There are a few services that have withstood the changes taking place on the web that deserve a little scrutiny on The Bella Buzz podcast. These services can almost be identified as early players in the Social Media space as they attempt to connect people with common interests and invite them to share interesting articles and web sites. As the newer, more noteworthy, services have evolved such as Twitter and Facebook, the question has to be asked whether or not there is value in spending the time and resources necessary to cultivate these aggregator sites.
During the course of our hiatus from the podcast there were two events that put this on the radar as something to discuss. The first was a post that was Stumbled by some users at StumbleUpon, that generated a welcome spike in traffic to one of our web sites. StumbleUpon lets content creators submit links to the site so that others who are interested in that category, or are following the links from a particular submitter, can see the content and pass it along to others.
The second event was the release of the new Digg version 4. Digg is the brainchild of founder Kevin Rose, who was looking for a site that would help uncover the most relevant blog posts that were being written on the web. Before the advent of social sharing, sites like Technorati and TechMeme were curated sites, leaving the decision about what was good in the hands of editors. Rose wanted to let the mass audience make that decision themselves.
What was good about Digg was also its downfall. More and more the site was controlled by a band of “power users” who were able to influence the appearance of blog posts on the home page of Digg by voting up some articles and burying others. Articles that were voted to the home page of Digg could expect such an influx of traffic that servers could get overloaded and crash. Unfortunately, many started to find that the volume of traffic was not necessarily converting traffic in regards to overall business objectives.
In time many users felt that the articles that they were being exposed to were not relevant. This fact, combined with the increased adoption of social networks like Twitter, which made it much easier to find good content as recommended by someone you have developed a trust relationship with made the situation for Digg’s long term potential tenuous.
Digg’s hierarchy decided it was time to take a chance on upsetting the powerful user base and completely re-vamped the format of how the service worked. The most important feature in the new version of Digg is the ability to follow someone, in fact it is very easy to transfer the social graph from one platform to another, making the Digg experience more relevant for each user. The other new functionality that is great from a marketers perspective, is that the system accepts RSS feeds from blogs. This eliminates the need for manual submissions from a content creator.
Are these sites important for a small business? Do marketers need to pay attention to them as part of their service responsibilities? Driving links and traffic, and generating buzz from any possible platform is important to growing a successful web site and cultivating a social network is the job of a good web marketer.
On a final note, the founders of Typepad announced that they are forming a new company called Say Media in conjunction with VideoEgg.
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