How to be a Part-Timer and Still Hit the Front Page
Most people who submit content to social media websites like Digg, Reddit, Mixx, or Propeller do so because they believe what they are submitting is worthy of making it to the front page where it can be viewed by a gazillion people. It could be something that interests them from the news. Perhaps it’s a story they worked exceptionally hard on from their blog. Maybe it’s a hilarious video they found.
So, new to the world of social media, they submit it and wait for their name to appear in the popular section. It’s a great story, afterall. However, in most cases, it does not make the front page. Undaunted, they try again. And again. Eventually they start to look at what hits the front page and they see a discouraging trend — the same names keep popping up, and it isn’t theirs.
What do they do? They click on a profile. At Digg, they might click on Suxmonkey, a front page regular. They scan down to the stats and their eyes pop out of their head. 34,000 Diggs! Oh ____! Perhaps they check out Reddit next and click on QGYH2 to see a karma score over 100K. Moving right along to Propeller, they check the Top Contributors section to find that they’ve all submitted hundreds, even thousands of stories and comments.
If you are one of these people, don’t give up! You don’t have to spend hours a day, every day, to become a regular to the front page of social media websites. You simply need a strategy that fits your schedule.
Each social media website is different. They have different techniques that work (which is probably why very few make it to the top ranks on multiple social media sites). Here is a breakdown of ways to make it to the front page on a tight schedule.
We’ll start with Reddit because it’s the easiest for a part-timer to hit the front page. On Reddit, you don’t need a huge friend list. You don’t need to upmod (vote for) dozens or hundreds of stories a day to get noticed. You need four things: quality content (even though low quality content can sneak in sometimes), excellent headline writing skills, an understanding of what the hot topics are on Reddit, and luck. That’s it.
Read the first few front pages. You’ll start to notice trends (which often fluctuate) of topics that are hitting. Some easy topics to push through are Bush-bashing stories, RIAA-bashing stories, and cop-bashing stories. Not into bashing? No worries. Get there with the headline.
Because Reddit does not have a way to leave a description, the title itself must be the description. You have more space than most social media sites, but you must choose your words carefully. Be creative, tell the story quickly, don’t mislead, and you’ll be fine. Here are some that are on the front page at the time of this story:
- Dolphins Finally Invent Wheel
- Russia will preemptively use nuclear weapons if their allies’ (including Iran) sovereignty is threatened
- This is how Al Jazeera International reported the results of the Nevada caucus (image)
Notice that even if you don’t read the stories, you still probably learned something from the headine itself. Note of warning about headlines: do not get sucked into the “Vote this up if…” style headlines. For every one that makes the front page, another 50 were downmodded to oblivion.
The luck comes in when you least expect it. You might submit 3 stories, with the 2 most promising going nowhere and the one you regretted submitting making it to the top. Reddit is quirky, but remember, you don’t have to be a power user to make it to the front page.
On Digg, it’s almost impossible to make it to the front page simply on merits of the story. An exclusive interview with Jimmy Hoffa coming out of hiding may not make it to 10 Diggs if submitted by the wrong user. Luckily, the Digg algorithm does its best to keep the part-timers in mind.
Most Diggers who make the front page on a regular basis Digg dozens, even hundreds of stories a day. Many people establish a large list of friends and Digg most of their submissions. The hope is that they will reciprocate, thus driving their stories up as well. While this is the best strategy for those who can be active, a part-timer is not left behind.
For those who are part-timers because they can only Digg on certain days, there is hope. Look at Tomboy501. She normally only submits on weekends. She takes a little time during the week to Digg some stories, but saves the story hunting and mass digging for weekend bursts.
If you can Digg regularly but only in short spells, you can still make your submissions go popular. Keep a tight list of friends, small enough to be able to digg most or all of their submissions in the time that you have. Submit regularly, but not necessarily a lot — 1 every day or two is fine. The Digg algorithm takes into account how many Diggs you get on your average submission, so if you are submitting regularly but not getting more than a few Diggs, it will be easy for one of your submissions to make it to the Hot in (category) section with an above-average number of Diggs. Once it’s there, the quality of the story takes over.
If your story is front-page-worthy, it SHOULD make it up through the levels and eventually to the front page. Once it moves from Hot in (subcategory) to Hot in (category), if your submission is good and you haven’t hit the front page lately, it has a good chance of making it to the Hot in (news, videos, images) section and on to the Hot in All part. Now, it’s ready to fly.
Be sure to prune and replenish your friends’ list regularly. If you only have a few friends and a few submissions, it doesn’t take long. Check to see if any of your friends haven’t been digging you recently and see if any of your non-friends have been. Digg likes variety, so having the same people voting on your story will eventually lead to their Digg being “devalued” somewhat as a vote for your submissions. Then, it will take more Diggs to make it to the Hot sections.
Either way, it isn’t hard to hit the front page as a part-timer. Some top diggers will tell you it’s easier that way. Considering you can get to the Hot sections with 10-15 Diggs and they have trouble showing up at 50-100, you can understand where they are coming from.
Like Digg, Propeller and Mixx each favor new people. This time, it isn’t the algorithm as much as it is the members themselves.
On both Mixx and Propeller, you can make a large friends’ list, even if you don’t have much time. These sites make it extremely easy to vote for your friends’ recent submission. For Propeller, just click on “Friends Online” and then on “Friends’ Submitted Stories”. For Mixx, click on “Your MixxFriends”.
You will be able to see the headlines, vote for the ones you want, and move on. A fast reader and faster clicker can go through a dozen pages of stories in minutes.
Again, submit regularly, but not too much. Keep adding friends who have common interests as you and who are active. If you have the time, check your messages often and vote for the stories sent to you that you like. Don’t “share” stories unless you’ve got one that you really want to hit the Front Page.
When you’ve got a winner, Share. On Propeller, this can be time consuming, depending on the number of friends you have, but you can share your story and a message to 5 friends at a time until you make it through your list. On Mixx, it’s as simple as sharing and checking off all of the people that you want to send the story to.
Don’t share every story you submit. In fact, only share the ones you really think are front page material. The more you message people your stories, the more likely they are to block you or remove you from their friends’ list.
Check your messages. Sometimes, people will send you something to the effect of “Stop messaging me your stories. I check through all of my friends’ submissions, so if I like it, I’ll vote for it.” Be courteous and you should be able to keep your friends voting for your stories.
Even though both get less traffic than Digg or Reddit, they are still fun and worthy social media websites to check out. Both have features unique to them, so stop on by if you haven’t already.
I don’t know yet. That’s the short answer. Both need more than just a few minutes a day to really make an impact. Since neither have a traditional Front Page structure, we’ll skip them for now and come back with better data next time it comes up.
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