This is the first post from Digg power user Muhammad Saleem, who will be offering tips about creating content that appeals to users of social media news sites.
Back in January, Ethan Kaplan proposed a new term to describe certain sites:
Made for Digg (MFD), just like Made for Adsense sites, these are sites that are specifically formatted as Digg bait…
While people often argue that there is something inherently wrong with content that is specifically designed to be consumed by socially driven sites, I was probably one of the first people to go on the record arguing to the contrary, and the reasoning behind my stance is simple. For content to be successful on Digg, i.e. for it to be classified as “Digg bait,” it really has to appeal to the community and it has to incite a passionate response from the users, whether the response be good or bad.
But Digg tends to become like crack for many writers and after they get on Digg once, there is an intense desire to try to keep getting on Digg. It is here that writers often start disregarding their loyal readers, start pandering to Digg, and run into trouble. Therefore, when it comes to MFD content, we introduce a caveat: It is okay to try and write for Digg as long as you can appeal to the Digg community and get the users to be passionate about your content, without deviating too much from the kind of content you would otherwise produce.
Writing for Digg is actually less about substance and more about how you present the content—in other words, copywriting. This entails writing the same content that you would normally write, but altering it in a way that doesn’t take away from its essence while making it appealing to the broader Digg audience. This is the kind of content that both your regular readers and potential new readers will appreciate.
Pandering to Digg, on the other hand, entails going out of your way to write something you wouldn’t ordinarily write and that won’t necessarily appeal to your regular readers, but you still write it just because it appeals to the Digg readership and may get you those extra visitors. By doing this, you risk alienating your core readership for a chance at a big traffic rush that might not convert to regular readership.
I have always maintained that by creating content with a clear audience in mind, you can create more focused content that appeals to them directly. But you have to think of your site as having a ‘core-audience’ and a ‘peripheral-audience’. For some sites the core-audience is the social media audience, but for most sites the core-audience comprises of your RSS subscribers and other readers that visit and comment on your content daily. And for these kinds of sites, social media should be used to expand your audience, not to build your audience at the expense of your regular readers.
For the latter case, you can try and reach the peripheral audience (coming from Digg, Netscape, Reddit, and so on) by making certain small tweaks to your content. For the next few posts I will go into detail and explain how exactly you should make these tweaks to your post titles, the opening paragraphs, and content summaries.