Over the last year since the launch of version 4, Digg has faced challenges in regaining its relevance in social media. Traffic is down. Users are less active. It has seemed at times as if Digg may go the way of MySpace, Propeller, and Yahoo Buzz – social sites that were once big news but failed to adapt to a changing social sphere.
Today, they launched Digg Newsrooms in limited beta. If it’s as successful as they hope, it could mark the shift that the site has needed to get back to the top of the social news game.
“There are so many social signals on the web and no easy way to separate the news that is most meaningful about a topic from the news that is most popular,” said Matt Williams, CEO of Digg. “With Digg Newsrooms now you can stay on top of the news that matters most to you, and interact with others who share your passion for a given topic.”
Here’s a sneak peek; click to enlarge.
By presenting the “best news” on any topic, Newsrooms adds interesting layers that Digg has never had in the past. The most profound change is in discover of content. Newsrooms analyzes “social signals” from Facebook and Twitter to help surface content. In the past, stories were either submitted by users or fed directly into Digg from RSS feeds for a short period of time after Digg v4 launched.
Now content can be discovered by Newsrooms through Facebook likes, Tweets, or simply because a site has a tendency to give quality content surrounding the topic. Unlike the disastrous auto-submission function of Digg v4, Newsrooms will only surface the content; users must still Digg the story for it to be submitted. In the case below, you will see a story that has surfaced in Mobile but that has not yet been submitted.
It surfaced because it came from Intomobile or because of the 12 tweets that have already been sent about the story. Once I click the Submit button, it’s now in the queue and I become the submitter of the story.
According to alpha tester John Boitnott, “Overall, I think the “newsrooms” project is a gutsy attempt by Digg to bring in new users as well as some of the old ones.
His praise comes with a caveat. “However, they had better be ready to stick to their guns and make this new beta work over the long term.”
In addition to content surfacing and creating communities through which users can interact with like-minded people, Digg is adding a layer of “fun” to the site. Awards are given to users for certain activities such as Ace reporter for having their first story promoted to that Newsroom Front Page. Sites like Reddit and Buzzfeed have had relatively strong success with badge features.
What will all of this do for Digg? It’s very likely that they will get a nice burst of buzz, as it’s the most profound change they’ve made in a year. The key will be old user adoption and new user acquisition. If this gets enough attention to start bringing new users in and if it’s able to work well enough that current users find it useful, it may be enough to make Digg one of those rare success stories of a company that crumbled and then rose from the ashes to reinvent itself as a relevant social media site again.