Top Digg User Answers Your Social Media Questions

written by BlogEx on September 20, 2007 in Blog Marketing and Reader Questions and Social Media with 10 comments

On Monday when I postponed the regular feature Reader Question Session, I promised it was for a good reason and that I’d make up for it. Well today is the day that I’m hoping to deliver on that promise.

Digg Littleman LogoAfter having one of my posts hit the front page of Digg, several of you began asking questions about social media and how a blogger could leverage sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon. While I’ve participated in social media quite a bit, and even had some success, I figured I’d better serve you, my readers by going directly to the source. I contacted Muhammad Saleem who is currently ranked #6 among Digg members, and has written about the subject of social media on high profile sites such as Pronet Advertising, 901am, and CopyBlogger. Basically, I found one of the top social media experts to answer the questions you had (as well as a few of my own).

Muhammad, thanks a ton for taking the time to answer these questions for us. I know you’re busy so I’ll just jump right in. What do you think of the recent changes to Digg? Do you think the change to the profile stystem will have any effect on how or which stories are made popular?

Over all I really like the changes. We now have the much needed social networking functionality which allows us to better connect with our fellow Diggers and paves the way for a friend recommendation and story recommendation engine. This will certainly have a huge impact on both the way and the speed with which stories are made popular because Digg has removed direct access to stories from certain areas (i.e. direct Digging from friends’ profiles) and has increased the number of steps required to Digg a story (i.e. you can’t Digg the story directly from certain pages; you have to click on the story to go to single story mode and then Digg it from there).

Ultimately I think this will improve the quality of content on the front-page and add diversity to it too. While I love 90% of the content from the top Digg contributors, not all of it deserves to be promoted (including from myself). By making it harder for content to be promoted and by limiting the blind-Digging of friends’ stories, the new system ensures that only the creme of the crop rises to the top.

You’re very active on all sorts of social media sites, which are your favorites?

My favorite social media site as of this moment is without a doubt StumbleUpon. The community is one of the friendliest and most appreciative ones that I have had the chance to engage with. Furthermore, I enjoy the environment on SU because it truly is more about sharing content than trying to promote content to the front-page.

A lot of advice to bloggers and writers hoping for social media success centers around how to create content that will succeed on the various sites. Once you have something that you feel is worthy, how should you go about getting it the attention needed to succeed?

There are several ways, and unfortunately submitting it yourself is not one of them (social media sites have an unnatural hatred for own-submissions). What you can do is reach out to the community leaders (without spamming of course) and see what they think about your content.

That’s interesting you mention reaching out to community leaders… do top users mind being contacted like that with submission suggestions? Does this sort of thing happen often?

Muhammad SaleemTop users that I have talked to generally don’t mind being contacted. However, too often I (and some of my fellow top social contributers ) get contacted by spammers and people whose content is either not suited to a particular site or is not of great quality. It’s people like these that are most frustrating to deal with because they don’t understand social media and aren’t willing to listen.

Zane from KungFuCabbage asked, “Are they really worth it in terms of turning visitors into long term recurring income generating readers? They often come see what they want to see and leave.”

The short answer is that unless you have created a service, it’s hard to monetize direct social media traffic (i.e. from advertisements). Where it does help is in the following:

1. Getting exposure for your site so that it is on people’s radars and will get submitting repeatedly.

2. Over time you will build both link popularity as well as a substantial RSS readership.

Social media can help you fast-track those two things, which are what will bring in the money. Of course being popular once on a social media site will not have long-term effects and that’s why you need to have a social media strategy that goes hand-in-hand with excellent content.

Zane went on to ask another great question and one that I feel a lot of people overlook when they think of social media and their site. He asks “What makes a site sticky for the various social sites?”

1. Good content.

2. Relevant content.

3. Good design.

4. Minimal advertising.

Stumbleupon LogoJason Peck, our blog contest winner, asked a similar question a while back that I think fits in well with this conversation. He asked “How do you actually get Digg/Reddit/Stumbleupon love? I have the buttons. I have done a couple of submissions. I have yet to cross that magical threshold of tons of traffic love. What’s the secret?”

There are a couple of ways. First of all, write consistently good content (this way you’re not just a one shot wonder) and content that is relevant to your site and the community you are targeting. Second, participate in the sites. Yes, content is king, but in social media, community is just as royal.

I couldn’t agree more. While I haven’t had quite the success you’ve had, I’ve found the best way to sort of “figure it out” is just to jump in and become a part of the community. If you approach it as a learning experience rather than trying to exploit the community, I think you’ll be surprised at the success you’ll have.

Shifting gears a bit, I’d like to finish up by asking a question about blogging. You seem to have had a LOT of success guest blogging, appearing on lot of high profile sites as I mentioned earlier. What advice would you give to someone hoping to follow the same path? How did you land such high profile spots?

Honestly, there are no ‘tricks’. If you blog about your passion, and keep at it, the opportunities begin presenting themselves. I was contacted by both Neil (for Pronet) as well as Brian (for CopyBlogger) because of the content on my own blog. The most important thing is to blog your passion, regardless of whether it is the latest trend or not, and do it because you enjoy it not because you feel forced to.

Thanks again, Muhammad for taking the time to answer those for us. If you have any more social media questions, there are two things you can do. First of all, leave them in a comment below. Not only am I going to try and talk Muhammad into commenting, but I’m also going to interview another top Digg member! Also, if you’ve not subscribed to Muhammad’s blog, go do it. He really is a wealth of information about all things social media.

I hope that was informative and worth the slight delay for the Reader Question Session. Be sure to either check back in tomorrow for that second interview or subscribe to the blog either by RSS feed or by email so you don’t have to worry about ever missing another Blogging Experiment update.