Social Media Success Beyond Digg

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Written by Ben Yoskovitz. Ben is co-Founder of Standout Jobs, a startup tackling the online job market. He also blogs regularly at Instigator Blog about startups, business, marketing and social media.
Digg is the behemoth of the social media and bookmarking world. Hit the front page of Digg and you should get several thousand visitors at least. You could get many, many more. My best result on Digg was Top 10 Reasons Why Proposals Fail, which resulted in 50,000+ unique visitors over the course of a few days. But Digg is a fickle beast.
There have been plenty of reports that Digg auto-buries stories from specific domains. Neil Patel at Pronet Advertising wrote about Digg censorship as did Francesco Mapelli. And generally, getting to the front page of Digg is difficult, and quite often a complete crapshoot, whether your content is a great fit or not.
So where can you go in the social media world if Digg isn’t doing it for you?
Netscape is certainly an option, as is, but there are other lesser known and newer social media and social bookmarking sites to look at.

1. ShoutWire

ShoutWire is similar to Digg. You submit stories. People vote on them. If they get to the front page, you’re going to see a surge in traffic.

  • Two of my posts made it to the front page in the last couple weeks. The result was 2,238 unique visitors. Part of this is because stories from ShoutWire are picked up on TorrentSpy, which drives further traffic. Apparently TorrentSpy is now closed to US-based traffic due to legal issues, but I have no idea if that will last.
    ShoutWire shows you how many times a story has been viewed, and you can see that some of them receive many thousands of visitors, so there’s an opportunity to get more traffic than I’ve had to-date.
  • ShoutWire has a variety of categories – Technology, Business, Sports, Entertainment, etc. – but generally you’ll find a lot of entertainment, technology and political stories. From this perspective it’s not that different from Digg.
  • It’s much easier to get something popular on ShoutWire. It requires less votes than Digg and can happen in a longer period of time. So it might take well over a day for a post to hit ShoutWire’s front page, but that’s OK. As well, posts will stay much longer on the front page. You can see posts that have been there for 3+ days.
  • You can submit your own stories. This is typically frowned upon in most places, but it seems to be OK on ShoutWire. As the site gains in popularity, this might change, so keep an eye on what others are doing.

ShoutWire is a good place to get comfortable with social media and bookmarking. The audience is smaller, but it’s friendlier than Digg. And although you won’t be overwhelmed with visitors, it’s worth taking the time to test out.

2. Sphinn

Spinn is also similar to Digg. You submit stories. People vote on them. But unlike Digg, Sphinn is very focused on a specific niche: Search Engine Optimization.
Digg generally frowns on SEO-related content. I suspect Sphinn was a response to that.

  • Sphinn does not drive a lot of traffic. I’ve had 1 story hit the front page and that resulted in 174 unique visitors. But if you’re into SEO or social media it’s a great place to build a profile. In this case it’s not the volume of traffic but the people that you’re connecting with that’s important.
  • Sphinn is very focused on search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media and Internet marketing. As well, Sphinn is more accepting of opinion pieces or anecdote/story-style posts (as opposed to strictly “hard news”.)
  • You can submit your own stories, and in fact Sphinn encourages you to do so as per their submission guidelines.
  • Getting to the front page is reasonably easy, and there’s very little in terms of time constraints. This is similar to ShoutWire – posts don’t need 50+ votes to hit the front page, and you’ll find posts that make it well after one day. And, posts last longer on the front page as well (often 2+ days.)

Sphinn appeals to me in a number of ways. The traffic numbers aren’t significant, but the community that has developed is very interesting. If you write about the topics they focus on, you should be participating there. And, as a resource for those topics (even if you don’t write about them) it’s quite valuable. You can peruse the front page of Sphinn and very easily get all the SEO, search and Internet marketing information you need.

3. DailyHub

I was only recently introduced to DailyHub but it’s niche works perfectly with this blog. As they write in their manifesto, “DailyHub is a social content site designed for business geeks.”

  • You’ll get almost no traffic from DailyHub. I’ve submitted 2 stories and received a total of 10 unique visitors. Having said that, those visitors have stayed longer and visited more content than visitors from the other social media sites. If your blog is business-related, practical and designed to target professionals (or as DailyHub describes it, “the LinkedIn crowd”), DailyHub is a perfect fit.
  • You can submit your own stories. I haven’t found a policy to say otherwise, and since there’s not a lot of content or traffic to the site, it seems reasonable that they’d allow you to do so for some time.
  • Stories will stay on the front page for a few days, since there aren’t many submissions. In fact, new submissions go automatically onto the front page.

I really like the principle and purpose behind DailyHub. If they can build up more traffic to the site, so that popular stories generate more results, we should see a bit of a snowball effect.

4. Y Combinator Hacker News

Y Combinator Hacker News is provided by the folks at Y Combinator. There is a voting system in place, but it looks less like Digg than the other sites I’ve listed. For many, Hacker News will be too technical, although there’s still a good deal of non-technical stories of interest – targeted to those in startups, and technical entrepreneurs.

  • Hacker News can drive decent traffic. I received over 1,000 unique visitors from a couple of stories in July. But the focus of the site has changed of late, geared towards the more technical, and so I’m uncertain if more general stories on startup ecosystems and venture capital will still work. Certainly stories about home-based businesses, or general Internet marketing will not fair well.
  • There is a strong karma system at play, which I haven’t paid too much attention to, but Y Combinator is trying to combat spamming and gaming of the system.

I’m disappointed that Y Combinator Hacker News has moved to something more technical, because I feel there’s still a lot of need for aggregating startup/business-related content. DailyHub might help provide that answer. Still, if you are writing content (even the occasional story) that would interest technical startups, this is a great place to submit that content and build up a profile.
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