Social Media Sensationalism

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Ask anyone and the first thing they will tell you about socially driven sites like Digg is that the key to getting on the front page is to have good content. While that is true, others will argue that other elements such as interesting titles and descriptions can be just as important.

Most people think that the key to getting on the Digg homepage is great content. Although this is true, a good Digg title and description can make “non-Digg worthy” content reach the homepage.

It is true that you should choose an interesting title so as to get a reader’s attention, but how far should you go? There is a very thin line between making your title interesting and intriguing, and using a title that inaccurately sensationalizes your story to the point where the you are purely relying on (inaccurate) shock value to get the reader to click the link.
The reason why people do this is because it works. But of course this doesn’t make it right. Like Neil has mentioned before,

To increase your chances of getting on Digg’s homepage, try coming up with something unique and funny but don’t forget to make sure it’s still related to the article.

The worst offender I have seen in quite a while is the following submission: Women gives birth, wakes up without arms or legs. If you read the actual story, you will see that this title is a gross misrepresentation of what actually transpired.

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  • Hi guys, this is an off-topic comment.
    I just noticed that on single post pages you have 2 spots outlining the author and the time stamp of the post (below the title and on the footer of the post). In my opinion you could remove the upper one, and leave the post details only on the footer. Just a suggestion, love the blog anyway!

  • The key to getting on digg is the title, yes. But more importantly are two things… 1. submitted user, 2. web site
    The title is way less in importance than those two items.

  • I don’t think the story and the title in your example are too far off base … In any case I still believe that content matters most overall. If you use a misleading headline to get Dugg then you’ll get buried just as fast if the content blows.

  • Daniel, thanks for the input. We will be making some design changes within the next month and we’ll address it then. 🙂

  • I’ve seen examples of what you’re saying a few times over the past few weeks — Different titles, but basically the same story. However, I do agree with Matt; in the end, it’s all about the content.

  • It’s the logical choice for diggers. They see what works and they use that. The crowds, unfortunately, aren’t really that smart, and this is where the crowd wisdom fails. I’ve seen my own digging/submitting habits change after I’ve seen that some types of content simply don’t work, regardless of the quality.