Welcome to part eleven of the Starting a Great Blog tutorial. Today we address social bookmarking, and how it’s effects on blogging.
How does social bookmarking affect blogs? Have you noticed those little icons at the bottom of posts on most blogs? You know, those little buttons to submit the post to Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us, etc? Social bookmarking has changed blogging, most likely for the better. How?
When you, or someone else, submits one of your posts to Digg or Reddit, your post appears in a list of new blog posts. Digg/Reddit users will see it, and possibly click-through and read your posts. If the users like the post, they may vote it up the list more. If it gets enough votes, the post could make it to the main page. When a post reaches the main page of Digg or Reddit, a flood of users come to your site to check out your posts. There’s an up-side and a downside to that. The up-side is that you’ll get a lot of people reading your post. The people may even read more of your posts. Maybe some of them will become regular readers. The downside? Your site could be temporarily shut down (or you could be charged extra money) because of the massive bandwidth used by all the Digg/Reddit users. That, my friend, is known as “The Digg Effect” (or the “Slashdot Effect”).
Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll get onto the front page. It’s pretty hard, actually. Social bookmarking sites are a great way to draw in more people, even if you don’t make it to the front page.
Even if you don’t want to submit any of your posts to social bookmarking sites yourself, at least make it easy for others to do it. Provide buttons to help the users submit your content. There are WordPress plugins that help you do this, or you can do it yourself.
What if you want to submit the posts yourself as well? First of all, you should know that not all social bookmarking sites are the same. Here’s a rundown of a few popular ones.
Digg sure gets a lot of press. There’s always people talking about it. Well, you have to admit it is really popular. Digg buttons are all over the web (not to mention the famous Digg-count gadget). What do you need to know about Digg? Diggers (Digg’s users) have a bunch of unofficial “rules” that they force everyone to abide by, though a few of them need challenging. Here are a few tips:
- If you’re blogging about something like, oh…how about an announcement from Google, make sure you add something unique to the post. If you just summarize Google’s original post, you’ll get blasted in the comments. You must add something of your own (like witty comments).
- It helps if your Digg username is different than your blog username. Some, though not all, diggers like to bash people (unfairly) for submitting their own posts.
- If you know other people who use Digg, explore the friends list feature. To get onto Digg’s front page, it helps.
- Don’t use multiple accounts, unless you want the Digg Police to suspend your accounts (though they let you re-activate one of them normally).
- Digg other things besides your own posts.
- Submit posts to the most appropriate category, else Diggers will “Bury” your posts.
- Hang out on Digg a bit. Find out how the other Digg users act.
Digg is an odd place. It’s a good idea to explore a bit.
Reddit is Digg’s main competitor. It’s a lot like Digg, though it’s users seem a bit less childish. They have a set of rules, or Reddiquette, that all users must follow. There are some interesting innovations on their part as well. All in all, it’s users are a bit friendlier (though they vote on posts less). One of my favorite features is the lack of categories. You just submit things, and they go in with everything else. Unfortunately, it makes it harder for me to find the tech posts.
Del.icio.us is different from Digg and Reddit. Unlike the other two, where you vote on what’s new on the web, Del.icio.us is an actual bookmarking service. You want to access all your bookmarks on the road? Try Del.icio.us. The major social aspect of Del.icio.us is that any other user can view/search your bookmarks. It’s useful for finding new sites. The idea is: If others bookmarked it, it must be good. There’s even a “Popular” page, like Digg’s front page, where the most bookmarked posts/sites/etc show up. I recommend creating a Del.icio.us account just for your best blog posts. Call it you_blog_name, or something like that. Bookmark your best content.
Are you confused about all this social bookmarking nonsense yet? It takes time to get used to it all. Whether you like it or not, social bookmarking has changed blogging forever. Before we finish for today, here are a few random tips:
- Don’t submit all your posts. Only submit really good/unique ones.
- Add a row of social bookmarking icons to your post pages, to aid users in voting.
- Stay away from the Digg-counters. Some people may not take you seriously when they see “1 Digg” at the top of your post.
Well, that’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another installment in the series.