Most people have heard of Digg , the largest social news website in the world, but a lot of webmasters are not sure how it works and how they can become part of the Digg community.
Digg buttons are appearing on almost every major news website from the BBC to newspapers such as the Daily Mail, the Times and the Telegraph. If these sites are using Digg for traffic then you should be doing the same.
The way Digg works is quite simple - users submit interesting links to stories around the web and other users vote on these stories.
If a certain story becomes popular enough within the first 24 hours of submission, it will be promoted to the Digg homepage. Stories usually need between 30 to 150 Diggs before they reach the homepage and can get anywhere up to 10,000 Diggs once they become popular. It is almost impossible for a story to become popular after 24 hours.
Sites that experience the Digg effect - a huge influx of up to 100,000 visitors in the few hours that a story remains popular, normally struggle to cope with the server load. Blogs and forums are especially vulnerable as they load a web server more heavily than static html pages.
As well as the obvious benefit of having thousands of people reading your website, the Digg audience is composed of a large number of bloggers and tech savvy web users. If your website or application appeals to this demographic, you can expect hundreds or even thousands of new links and a vast improvement in your search engine rankings.
When a new story is submitted to Digg, it can be found in the upcoming queue in whichever category it has been added to. Users can also find stories by looking at the profiles of other Digg users to see what they liked.
Digg has a complex algorithm to decide which stories reach the homepage and to prevent spam.
One of the most controversial features is an auto bury algorithm which prevents stories from certain blacklisted sites ever becoming popular no matter how good the story is. Other aspects of the algorithm work out how hot a story is based on who Diggs it, where the Diggs came from and how quickly the votes built up. It is interesting that not all Diggers are equal - some are power users and their votes are worth much more than others.
In the past, Digg has gained a reputation of being full of anti-capitalist geeks who love open source software, the iPhone and all things Apple. But Digg has been keen to embrace the rest of us as well. Changes to integrate images and videos into the site as well as a way to customise which stories you see have made the site very popular with the average web surfer as well.
The social aspect of Digg is provided by the friends system. Any user can make friends with another Digg user and it is a great way to discover new content. If you see that a certain user has an eye for submitting interesting stories you can make friends with them and track their submissions in the future.
Before you start submitting your own stories to Digg, it is worth spending a few weeks learning the system and finding out what stories are likely to become popular. Find the top users and watch the type of stories they submit. It is a good idea to make your first 50 or so submissions from sites that Diggers love such as these as this will give you more chance of hitting the homepage.
Once you understand the way Digg works it's time for you to submit your own stories. Make sure you pick an interesting article that is something Diggers will enjoy and choose an interesting title.
After you submit the story it can help to send emails to a few of your friends, asking them to Digg the story if they like it and also include a Digg button so that your readers can Digg the story too. Make sure you don't openly beg for votes in public, in the past Digg has been known to ban users who appear to be trying to manipulate the system.
If you have any questions please ask in the comments.
Related research: Online PR Roundtable Briefing