Saturday, December 30, 2006

What Social News Sites Drive the Most Traffic?

This is a question I'm trying to answer for myself, but am now looking for empirical research to back it up.

There are all sorts of social news sites around now. Digg, Reddit, Netscape, Newsvine, Slashdot, etc. Which one of them is most beneficial for the content producer, or for the interested individual, to be posting on? Which delivers the most bang for the buck?

I had my own initial results with many different social news services, and the resultant traffic they can drive to one's site. Everyone knows that Digg has the best Alexa ratings out of all these, but is it the best for actually directing interested people to on-topic news?

My initial response to it all would fall under the concept of "publics". In an essay called "Wrong Publics", an essay written for people in business, PR and Marketing, L. Ron Hubbard discusses the need to only promote to correct publics, and not go after wrong distinct publics. The "people" aren't just "the people". They're cynical college kids or high-school girls or they're housewives or whatever. You can't put the same stories up on Digg and expect them to be gobbled up if they're for the 60-yr-old housewife public.

I've noticed this on posts that I've done, and that a friend of mine did on Scientology Volunteer Ministers. Now, firemen nearly escaping death, and excellent stories showing such is definitely a newsworthy item. It's a story of hope, and bravery and camaraderie. Now, you'd think this sort of thing would rise up in social news services. Of course, it doesn't. What does instead? Well, let's take some of the top stories in Reddit right now:

Inkless Metal Pen Never Runs Dry
Duke Nukem Forever approaches *10 years* of active development

It's terrible. Why do dorky articles outpace meaningful ones?

It does come down to who is reading them, and what audience they're destined for. The selfsame article that went nowhere on Digg, erupted on Reddit. Similarly, articles that went nowhere on reddit erupted on Netscape.

It is indeed a matter of looking at what you're writing, and then write for the people that will be reading it. I.e., if you're writing for the 22-yr-old Linux hacker, definitely post on Digg.

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