Social News sites like Digg and Reddit have built a reputation for being focused on 2 things: the offbeat and the tech-oriented. Mainstream media has shied away from using the social news aggregation sites because they didn’t believe their stories would do well.
Times have changed.
Social news is mainstream news. In a recent study, we discovered that Digg, the most prominent social news site with over 40 million visitors per month, has shifted to embrace mainstream media sites within their community. The top 50 sites once controlled 46% of the Digg front page, but this has dropped to 41% in recent months and is trending to continue to diversify.
Over 20% of the Digg front page is populated by the top 25 mainstream media sites like The Telegraph, NY Times, and Time, but it’s not just the giants that are finding success on Digg. Smaller mainstream media publications such as ChicagoNow and CityPages have also enjoyed the boost in both traffic and inbound links associated with a Digg front page.
It makes sense. Getting to the front page of sites like Digg on a regular basis increases exposure along many lines. Many feed links they find on Digg through other media sites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. The content that is found on the Digg front page is considered “vetted” by the community, as stories that don’t meet the communities standard are “buried”.
Still, there are challenges. With an estimated 20,000+ stories submitted to Digg every day, only 120 or so are promoted. How can websites, even mainstream media sites, get the exposure and benefits of a Digg front page? That answer to that question can only be found on Digg itself. There is a general feel that most stories share. It can’t be described or explained. Those who understand Digg well can look at a story and know within seconds whether it’s Digg-material or not.
Social news IS mainstream news. In the tumultuous world of print publications, taking advantage of the resources available will be the difference between those who survive and flourish and those who fall under the weight that the Internet has imposed on them.
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Read more about Social News on this blog.