Marketing Insights From Digg And Reddit

If you are involved in media, communications or your job description involves spreading ideas and you are not participating on sites such as Digg and Reddit you are at a huge disadvantage compared to those who are.

There is so much you can learn from the open socialization of news, content and ideas that these communities are unmissable from a sociological perspective.  Success in social media is more than knowing how to market – it is understanding society.  At its core, the social web is merely all of us having a giant digital conversation anyway.

Especially interesting to me and why I want to focus on Digg and Reddit specifically and not others in this post is the community fostered.  The Digg and Reddit communities are far more vibrant in the discussions, opinions and vocalizations than others such as StumbleUpon and Delicious due to their layout.  I won’t say they are “better” or “worse” at sharing content, that is entirely subjective – just different.

To me they are very much message forums 2.0.  I spent time daily for about the last decade on message boards/forums and see huge cross over between many of the old online communities to Digg and Reddit.  The only difference is these sites are about content-sharing at a much larger scale as opposed to boards which are niche oriented.  Note that the meta-community content is ever-present across web communities.

The monolithic, open communities of Digg and Reddit represent a chance for you to spread ideas, socialize with intelligent people and participate in an undeniably cool social experiment.

They are hardly new, and you’ve heard about them before – but I want to express specifically why marketers, bloggers, artists and anyone looking to spread ideas and content can learn valuable lessons from these communities specifically:

Learn viral content archetypes

Digg and Reddit are incredibly fertile ground to learn successful viral content archetypes.  Obviously lists in social media are hot, but there is even more to learn by closely studying the layout of popular content, voice it is written in and the design elements supporting it.  There are lots of subtle elements that people use to package content that is just irresistible to web communities like Digg and Reddit.  A few websites have picked up on them and have seen huge spikes in traffic – as I have shown examples of previously.

Test what types of ideas spread

Everyone wants to have their ideas spread.  Without it, marketers and communications people fail to gain steam behind their initiatives.  Artists can’t build a fan-base.  Bloggers can’t build subscribers.  So, why wouldn’t you participate or at the very least study networks that are built on groups of people sharing ideas and participating in some of the most popular examples of content crowdsourcing on the planet.  Don’t ignore the 24/7  social science experiment.  Savvy people are learning by participation and emerging as the ones with a true understanding for why we share content.  Don’t test purely your own ideas/content either.

Deep analysis of ideas in comments, discussions debates

Perhaps even more interesting than what is being shared is what is being said about content.  Learning what makes something successful in a democratized news environment only scrapes the surface.  Now you have the ability to see immediately how an entire community interprets ideas and content in threaded discussions where even the comments are voted on.  Where things really get interesting – for me at least – is how people react.

Gain insights and inspiration to ideas / niches that are under-served

A few popular stories within a niche breaking through the clutter that are not receiving much of a share of voice in traditional or other areas of social media may be a sign you have come across an under-served niche that others are ignoring.  Now you have the opportunity to serve it before anyone else.

Analyze reactions to your brand and your competitors brands

Many people in Digg and Reddit, just like message boards and forums, use alter-egos to share content and contribute to discussions.  This is because everyone knows they’re being watched but still wants to contribute in a raw format.  Getting honest, authentic reactions about your brand is powerful as they will be more pure than you can gleam from any focus group.  Also you can learn what your competition is doing wrong, then focus on being a better choice.

Just a quick end note…

If you’re going to dive in to Digg and Reddit, spend your first month (or longer) doing nothing by voting up other people’s stories, commenting intelligently and genuinely contributing.  Don’t even think about submitting a story until you feel comfortable in the discussion and understand that it is not about you, it is about the community. This is not a place to promote yourself, your blog, your website or your clients.  This is a place to learn about how ideas spread and creating sharp, popular content.

Also one final note for those of you thinking of using any insights on social media to grow your traffic:  organic traffic building is the only way to build a sustainable web brand.  Social traffic is great but you need a multi-tiered approach for long-term growth.

Related posts from The Future Buzz

Geeks:  The New Influencers

How To Effectively Target Specific Networks Or Groups Of People

Influencing Social Media: What Drives Digg And Reddit Users

Related posts from around the web

Real Collaboration (Conversation Agent)

10 Irrational Human Behaviors and How to Leverage Them to Improve Web Marketing (SEOmoz)

How to Level the Playing-field With Digg (Skelliewag)