This really should be two separate stories, but we’ll consolidate because there are just to many similarities in the reasons why both Digg and StumbleUpon will take their already-mammoth popularity and truly become household names beyond just the tech households of the world.
Social media in general is growing, but there is still a thin but clear gap between the point that Digg and StumbleUpon currently enjoy and that next level that would yield exponential growth in visitors, pageviews, and popularity. Call it the tipping point, and there are several points in a website’s life that can be called that, but this particular one is the last that either will enjoy.
A brief explanation of what I mean, and then on to the reasons:
A website is born. It grows, then it hits that first tipping point where a few people start to notice. Every website is different — some will get dozens of visitors, some hundreds, some thousands — but no matter what kind of website it is, that first tipping point gets it bookmarked and visited on a regular basis by a small amount of people.
Some websites hit that second tipping point when it starts getting thousands of visitors a day. This usually happens because it gets linked-to from a major website or news service. It could happen because of social media itself when a story goes popular and yields thousands of links and subscribers. Mixx is a perfect example of a website that made it to this tipping points a few months ago, then to the next tipping point recently.
That next tipping point is where most major social media websites have recently hit. Reddit, Propeller, Newsvine — all relatively well known in the tech and news arenas, but not commonly known by your local bridge club members. Digg and StumbleUpon are at the top of this level, but still not quite over the hump.
In 2008, Digg and SU will hit that next, final tipping point. They will become well known to most and heard of by almost everyone, including members of the local bridge club. Ask anyone on the street if they heard of MySpace and most will admit to at least hearing about it. That’s where Digg and SU are going and here’s why:
With Digg rumored to be on the verge of a buyout and eBay’s purchase of SU earlier this year, it is clear that people smarter (or at least paid better) than the average web-surfer see something big on the horizon for social media. The Facebook Beacon debacle sent many to re-evaluate how to use all of the massive data collected through social media in a way for advertising. eBay has a plan without a doubt, and anyone who buys Digg will have a different plan. Either way, big names buying smaller names often make the smaller names bigger.
Facebook was built on a concept. It expanded because of demand. In the end, it became a true competitor to MySpace because of the tools. By opening up and allowing people to build applications for use, Facebook made “facebooking” possible. Digg has a similar mentality. StumbleUpon is heading in that direction. In the end, they will both have a rich set of tools available through their websites and through other’s websites that will allow for “digging” and “stumbling” to be fully integrated with life itself (virtual life, at least).
Digg and StumbleUpon are, in a way, the ultimate filters. Similar to search engines, they give us access to results that we are looking for, whether we know it or not. The difference is that the peer-interaction, the voting structure, helps bring the best of the best of what we are looking for to the top instead of through optimization.
Why go to YouTube and sift through trillions when you can get served videos that peers have recommended through StumbleVideos? Why scan through Flickr when you can check out the best pics through Digg Pics? The more that tools become available to the average-Joe, the more they’ll ask, “What is Digg and StumbleUpon?” Then they’ll find out, and they’ll like what they find.
It isn’t always about who bought who. Sometimes, just forming a relationship is enough to spark interest. Digg has relationships, some public, some less known, with dozens of major players in media. SU has relationships, almost all less known, with similar institutions, but more importantly, through the second-hand relationships they get through eBay.
Partnering will expand at an incredible pace in 2008. Both Digg and SU have become points of focus for the major players out there. With that much attention, we will start to see more mainstream media stories hitting them. They will start getting promoted virally, and not just within their own social media niche. Cover stories on major magazines, television news taking notice, mentions from celebrities — it’s all coming. Once it does, traffic will explode.
Even Google has started adding Stumble information to their listings. Soon, you will see Diggs on the listings as well. This is HUGE for these sites. Let me say that again. THIS IS HUGE for SU and will soon be huge for Digg.
It Just Makes Sense
The internet is too large for most to comprehend. The pages offered by the search engines are growing more and more reduntant, yet at the same time, they are losing relevance. The ability that Digg and SU offer to people to “filter out the noise and get to the point” will be their biggest strengths. People will learn to love using Digg, SU, or both, depending on their personality types. Some like to be served stuff, opting for the blind-corner fun that SU has to offer. Some people want to filter through results that have already been filtered by peers.