Do you Digg it?

It can be a bit confusing to know what social networking sites to target to improve your blog readership. One of the most popular sites to use to generate hits on your own site is Digg. Digg has been going since around 2005, and has grown steadily in popularity so that its website traffic was ranked 100th by Alexa.com in April 2010.

What’s it all about?

Digg is a site that allows people to find and share content from anywhere on the web. It operates without editing, as a truly social site. All the content is placed on there by normal people who simply read something they like, and then ‘Digg’ it to let other people know about it.

Basically, it’s a big online popularity contest for good content. Material is ranked in order of popularity and value, and any site, however small or mighty, can be included in the lists. At a time when we are flooded with web pages from all over the world, it can be incredibly useful to have an index of content which is rated by normal readers with no ulterior motive than to share good stuff with other people.

The ‘America’s Got Talent’ of web content

Just like a reality TV show where people are voted on or off according to the entertainment value of what they do, so Digg allows pages to move up or down the scale depending on how good they are. ‘Good’ content could be funny, informative, useful or just plain silly, but it must have something catchy and relevant about it to hit the top spots.

Once a submission to Digg gets enough ratings from people, it hits the front page of the site where millions of visitors can see it. This is like winning America’s Got Talent and hitting the jackpot of popularity – a great goal for anyone who makes a living through online writing or video.

Digg includes images, music, news, video and articles, so it covers the whole spectrum of available web content in its rankings.

Supported by an online community

Digg also offers a community service, where people can discuss items and share them, passing on other pages of interest. Digg’s philosophy is to promote content in an unbiased way, which means that anyone can get on the front page if their material is interesting. It doesn’t make any difference how big or small your site is – it’s the content, and how people respond to it that counts.

In reality, these days it can be incredibly difficult to get onto the front page due to the power users who dominate the site. I’ve been on the front page twice (not with this site as I deliberately only have Twitter on here for reasons I can talk about another time) and can vouch for the massive increase in traffic, but just getting a small amount of traffic from many articles is often worthwhile.

Adding Digg to your blog

It’s pretty easy to use the Digg plug-in to get it on your WordPress site, and start to benefit from sharing your content with other people. There is now an updated application that builds on the previous Digg buttons and widgets, making it straightforward for you to engage Digg on your blog. You can also use a plugin like Share This, Sociable or Sexy Bookmarks.

If you have visitors to your site who like what you do, they can ‘Digg’ your content and start you off on the great global popularity contest of social computing – it’s well worth getting this on to your blog, if only to encourage people to share what you do with the rest of the world!

Improving Your Blog Stickiness

It’s relatively easy to get your blog set up and start updating it with great articles. It’s also straightforward to market it, let people know it is out there, and do what you can to encourage people to come and visit your site. With the right tools and support, you can get a great blog up and running in a small space of time.

What can prove to be a little more difficult is getting people to stick around. We’ve all visited new blogs and checked them out, and then clicked away from them, never to return again.

So. What is the ‘stickiness’ factor, and how do you make sure you have it on your blog? Here are a few ideas…

The soap opera technique

Do you ever watch soap operas? Some people live by them. They have an ongoing story to tell, and they retain maximum ‘stickiness’ in a number of ways. These include:

  • Running plot lines that don’t ever truly conclude (ever watched Lost?!).
  • Leaving you hanging with unanswered questions.
  • Dealing with relevant topics that people can identify with.
  • Letting you get to know the characters, so you care about how they’re getting on.

All these factors can apply equally well to blogging, and you can take inspiration from soap techniques for your own writing. By using open writing styles, you can make sure that people come back to your blog regularly to see how you’re getting on, and develop relationships with people that mean they are eager to get your next installment!

Keep abreast of leading-edge developments in your field

If you can tap in to news as it breaks in your industry, you stand a good chance of retaining your readership for good. Make your blog the first port of call for updates and information, and people will come back again and again, using you as a primary resource for finding things out. The best way to do this is to look online for relevant RSS feeds and subscribe to them, then comment on useful or interesting things which apply to your field of expertise.

Try providing useful widgets

If you make your blog useful, the likelihood is people will come back to the site as a matter of course, as part of their daily routine. Widgets such as weather updates, news items on a particular subject, or essential information such as share prices, promotions or offers (depending upon your area of industry) can be a great – and easy – way of making your blog site indispensable to your readers. Make it easy for people to bookmark you, and then make them want to visit you time and again.

Remind people through other means to visit your blog

Sometimes, we forget about even the best things in life. Have you ever discovered a great new recipe for a meal, only to kind of forget about it again? Blogs can be like that. Even the best ones can slip the net if people aren’t given a reminder to go back and check in with them. Keep your blog at the forefront of your readers’ minds, by linking to it from your other resources. Make it a prominent part of your company web site, and try sending out monthly e-mail newsletters that link people straight back to your blog. Make it even easier for people to return, by offering a prompt to add your blog to their ‘Favorites’ list.

Harness the power of storytelling

Storytelling is a skill which every single person responds to. Structure your blog posts with a clear beginning, a great middle and a decisive ending. These techniques tap in to our inherent response to stories which has been developed in us since we were children. By making your posts clear, well-structured and readable, you’ll give people a sense of ease when they read your posts, and encourage them to return to your site for another dose of storytelling, every day. As busy adults, we don’t often get the chance to take time out and lose ourselves in a great story. Your blog can be one of the places where people pop in to tune out for a while!

Build up long-term online relationships

This is the most simple, and most effective, way of building your readership and making your blog stickier than a fly caught in treacle (mmmm…). If people who visit feel that they are getting to know you, and you are reliable when it comes to providing help and support, they’ll come to view you as a valued colleague and friend. This is achieved by:

  • Making regular (and I mean REGULAR) updates on your blog.
  • Answering all comments and queries quickly and efficiently.
  • Being helpful, supportive and proactive when it comes to dealing with comments.
  • Visiting other blogs, and offering them the readership that you yourself are seeking to gain.

…Simple!

If you have a ‘sticky’ blog, get in touch in the comments and share your expertise with me!