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« When the web comes apart | Main | Lowering standards »

What should Digg do?

I've been thinking a lot about Digg and the other social news services.

Start here:
they have far more readers than writers.

I don't have access to the data, but I'm betting ten or twenty times as many people read the Digg list as post to it.

Which is just fine.

Second: there's no way they will ever make a profit from their readers. That's because
a. more and more will find the hotlists in places other than their site
b. people reading the hotlist are unlikely to be swayed by an ad.

Think about reading the Billboard charts or the Amazon bestseller list. That's a very goal-directed activity, and the goal isn't necessarily to find something that's NOT a bestseller. People skip the ads on the bestseller page, but read the ads in the classified section.

But that's just fine too.

The reason?

Third: the Diggers, the posters, the surfers... these are very highly-leveraged people. Call them the Legion of Super Surfers. Okay, bad acronym, maybe not. Call them the league of the leading edge.

The leading edge has always been important. Now, though, since they have a megaphone, since Digg and the others are amplifying their movements, they are far, far more important than ever before.

And that's Digg's asset. They have aggregated the league.

So what now?

Get permission.

Get permission to fead the League tidbits about the future. The reason they are Diggers is that they like being first, they like discovering cool stuff and then sharing it. So organize that process and monetize it.

Here's what I would do (two alternatives)

1. Say to every Digger: here's our FirstLook RSS feed (or sign up by email). Every two days, we send you a link to an article, a new product, a political idea--whatever topic you tell us you love.

Then, go to the teeming masses of marketers out there and invite them to nominate their new ideas, their new posts, their new sites to your editor. The editor picks the ones that are good enough, that make the cut. Figure three or ten or a hundred a day, depending on the demand. Once demand goes up, charge $20 just to submit one, so the editor can hire a squadron of assistants.

Alert the marketers that have something worth of distribution. Let the others down easy. Now, let the ones that qualify bid against each other. High bidder gets first billing, top five bidders make the list.

Alert the 500 or the 5,000 or the 50,000 Diggers that signed up. They see a list of things that might be tomorrow's big news. They digg the ones they love. Marketers save millions and months. Digg makes a fair profit and becomes a key powerbroker in the launch of the new. Diggers who choose to get to see a commercial glimpse of tomorrow (the same way reporters choose to look at press releases from the right media outlets).

2. The other alternative could happen tomorrow. Build a Squidoo lens or a blog for Legion members. Figure out how to assemble a thousand or even 200 like-minded diggers. Have them sign up and give you their email address. Use the RSS feed of the lens to keep your members up to date. Now, instead of finding readers for your "ads", you find ads for your readers. Every day or two, your post goes out to your members. Every day or two, you make a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand dollars from someone who had a story worthy of being distributed.

Obviously, neither approach works if you sell out. Neither approach works the minute you stop representing the interests of the League. Take a lot from Zenith or Quasar to push some lame device and you fail.

It's pretty clear to me that this is the moment to build an asset like this one, one that could last for a long, long time (maybe even five years!).


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What should Digg do?:

» What should Digg do? - Seek Permission and Monetize Digg from WebMetricsGuru
Digg has sent tidal waves of traffic to some of the blogs in Know More Media's network, including mine, and had not really focused on Digg till recently - Seth Godin has been posting a lot about Digg lately. Question... [Read More]

» What is Digg all about? from Zeus web works
Seth Godin wrote a nice little article today about Digg, and what is should and should not do. Very interesting article, with some nice ideas. I mean there must be some bigger plan with Digg than just let users digg their way around endless amo... [Read More]

» What should Digg do? - Seek Permission and Monetize Digg from WebMetricsGuru
Digg has sent tidal waves of traffic to some of the blogs in Know More Media's network, including mine, and had not really focused on Digg till recently - Seth Godin has been posting a lot about Digg lately. Question... [Read More]

» Seth Violates the Rules of People Power from nick davis
Seth Godin has a post brainstorming ideas about how Digg can monetize its user base. While the idea of letting marketers submit their new campaigns to Digg is interesting, it violates the basic people-powered premise of Digg. Instead of this: Then, go to [Read More]

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» Digg the Show from Horse Power
I have been listening to Diggnation, a popular vodcast and podcast hosted by Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, for quite a while now. That is why Seth Godin's post, "What should Digg do?"caught my attention. Seth's post offers some suggestions on how Digg ... [Read More]

» How Does A Web Company Know When Theyve Made It? from Conversion Rater
If youre a young web company, how do you know when youve really made it? Is it getting Techcrunchd?  No. Is it receiving a VC investment? No. Is it actually earning revenue? No. Is it generating a real profit? No. Digg knows what ... [Read More]

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» The 1% rule from
Ive been trying to incentivize people to use the company Wiki. A new post puts it into perspective. It would appear that less than 1% of people actually contribute in an democratized community. Out of the millions of visitors to the Wikipedia in... [Read More]

« When the web comes apart | Main | Lowering standards »