Narcissism and the Pursuit of Freebies

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Every community based site is a little narcissistic; some are more so than others. And pandering to the narcissistic tendencies of these sites can is increasingly becoming a common way for marketers to connect with the members that constitute these communities.
For example, just performing a simple search on Digg reveals a litany of submissions that reached the home page, often with an excess of 1000 Diggs, just because they talk about Digg.

Oftentimes these posts talk about either how Digg has evolved over time (with links to images of previous iterations) or discuss how and why Digg is a much better medium for information aggregation, moderation, and dissemination, when compared to other similar sites (such as Slashdot), and sometimes even discuss the power of Digg.
Contrarily, a method often successfully used by marketers is modifying the product to make a Digg-relevant or Digg-specific variant, and then using it to drive traffic to the original product/service. For a recent example, just look at the service mentioned by Cameron yesterday, Tailored Music’s – Love Song for Digg. By making a song tailored for Digg and hoping that the song manages to hook in enough people, the service could have potentially reeled in hundreds of users to try out the service (had they not subsequently engaged in spammy tactics).
An even more interesting example in marketing through social media is Virgin America’s sponsorship of the previous episode of the Diggnation Podcast. To sum it up,

The sponsor gave them booze and free run of a plane to do their show. They are going to let them do a live show on a plane. A plane that runs Linux and has real in-flight entertainment etc. If an airline said “If we pay you and give you beer, would you be willing to do your show in a sick plane that caters to techcentric types and maybe have a live show in flight later on??” would your answer be anything other than “***** yes”?

By allowing Kevin and Alex to shoot a video in their plane, Virgin America gets to market their name, along with tutorial videos of some in-flight entertainment features to hundreds of thousands of people and just for the cost of free beer and some sandwiches. Similarly, for episode 14 of Diggnation, Dolby labs invited Kevin and Alex to their studios to a one-time exclusive preview of their Dolby?Ǭ

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  • Cameron Olthuis

    So how is Virgin America’s deal for Digg any better than the free laptops Microsoft gave away to bloggers? Everyone threw a tissy fit when that happened, will it be the same for this?
    BTW Mu – That wasn’t directed at you, just a general question.

  • Allen Stern

    Cameron – I think it is different. And I can see more and more of this with Digg/Revision 3. Since showing VA = major digg = immediate buzz (and I am betting tons of signatures), it makes sense. I just posted on CN that GoDaddy is now a sponsor of all of the shows on Rev3. It is important to remember that their comments about the plane (which is fab btw) are paid comments to some extent. I wonder as I type this comment if it’s a bit odd that Digg can be used to promote Digg entities. I think that might be bigger of a question than the MS laptop deal.
    Let me try a step further…when Arrington promotes one of his companies on TC, everyone bitches that full disclosure, etc. Yet, Digg uses Digg to promote their own stuff all day/every day with no recourse. No idea if this makes any sense as I have a horrible cold and my brain is not functioning correctly.
    There is no doubt that the kiddie effect on Digg is huge. Promote “Digg”, get Dugg. Bash Digg, get buried.

  • Muhammad Saleem

    Cameron, I was writing a response to your question, but then it became so long that I am going to write a post on it instead.

  • Daniel R

    I think its been discussed for awhile that one of the top link baits for the Digg users, is “Top 10 Reasons why Digg is the Future/Sucks”. But its great that you guys are showing some actual data.