Digg, Reddit and all the other so-called "social media" sites can be a great way to get your message out to millions of people, but with so many voices out there screaming for attention it's hard to be heard sometimes--even if that 400,000-word poem about your dead cat is totally mind-blowingly awesome. But don't worry--in my time writing for Cracked.com I've picked up a few useful tricks that might help you on your quest for Digg greatness. With a little luck you might just find yourself on the front page, where people will then proceed to argue about whether you're gay, retarded or a gay retard. Here's how it's done.
Option #1: Buy Some DiggsLet's say you wrote an epic poem about your recently-deceased cat, Twinkie. That's not exactly the kind of thing that's going to shoot to the top of Digg's front page on its own, but you'd be surprised how far a little cash can go toward helping your Digg conquest succeed. (Just use the money you were going to spend on cat food--your dead cat isn't hungry anymore.)
Let's frame the question another way: would you think a blog featuring nothing but pictures of crowds could end up on the front page of Digg? How many people would Digg something like that? As Wired contributor Annalee Newitz found out last year, the answer turned out to be 342. How, you ask? By paying $1 per Digg to a website called usersubmitter.com for an early push toward the front page. True, the story was eventually buried (because it was UNBELIEVABLY BORING), but if you want to enjoy a brief stint in the limelight, buying some votes might not be a bad way to go.
Option #2: Be Famous ... Then DieIf you're Heath Ledger, Steve Irwin or Saddam Hussein, then congratulations--your death made the front page of Digg! That's all well and good for dead celebrities, but what if you're not a famous actor, crocodile hunter or dictator? What about YOU, the alive-and-well administrative assistant with an incredible epic poem about your recently-deceased cat, Twinkie?
Unfortunately, this particular strategy probably won't do much for you in the short-term. Consider quitting your job and moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting, or, if that doesn't work out, try becoming a famous crocodile handler or the leader of an oppressive Middle Eastern regime. Once you accomplish one of these goals, die. It might not be what you had in mind careerwise, but hey--at least you'll be on the front page of Digg, right?
Option #3: Kidnap Kevin Rose (Or Any Other Top 100 Digger)Top 100 Diggers wield enormous power over what gets to the homepage, so much so that Digg removed the page that used to list them to stop people from trying to game the system. (Don't worry--the list is still available at the third-party site DiggAnalytics.com.) Given their huge status on the site and the influence they have over what becomes popular (97 percent of the things that Kevin Rose has Dugg in the past have ended up becoming popular), it would be wise to try to use these top Diggers to your advantage.
In other words, you should kidnap Kevin Rose and force him to Digg your articles.
If you're not the criminal type, consider trying to befriend him. Send him an email complimenting his hair and entrepreneurial spirit. Quickly follow up with another one asking if he'd like to go out for dinner, then another asking why he isn't returning your emails. (The last one should be peppered with profanity, like "fuck" and "doodie.") You might want to prepare all the emails in advance and fire them off in rapid succession, as this will increase the likelihood that he will become your friend and make you famous on Digg.
If that doesn't work, and you're absolutely positive that you don't want to kidnap anyone, just put his name in the title of your post. Why not? It worked for these guys.
Option #4: Write Something About Digg Itself
With highfalutin terms like "social media" and "news aggregation" floating around, it's easy to lose sight of what Digg actually is. It might seem complicated, but at the end of the day, Digg is all about the people who use it. And like most people, the average Digg user LOVES to read about himself ... or herself, I guess, but c'mon--Digg's audience is 94 percent male. I think this banner ad for an upcoming Digg meetup pretty much says it all:
But I digress. The point is this: If you're trying to claw your way to the top of the Digg pile, there's no better tried-and-true approach than writing something ABOUT DIGG ITSELF. (For example, you could write an article about how to get articles on the front page of Digg.) Even if you're not writing something about Digg, you might as well throw the word "Digg" in the title somewhere. Let's take a look at two different ways of presenting an article:
BAD HEADLINE:GOOD HEADLINE:
See the difference? Come to think of it, that headline gives me an idea ...
Option #5: Specifically Tell People To Digg Your ArticleI remembering coming across a mysterious article a while back about a strange series of letters and numbers: 09-f9-11-02-9d-something-something. I don't remember exactly what it was, nor do I remember being all that impressed by that specific combination of letters and numbers, but that's not important. The important part is that the article specifically instructed me to Digg it, and so I did. Apparently this strategy works--that random string of letters and numbers received over 49,000 Diggs.
As a biological rule of thumb, human beings hate ambiguity. If a person is running at us with a bloody axe, we want to know if that person is an axe murderer, a lumberjack who has been involved in a terrible accident of some sort, or if it's just Halloween and we're freaking out for no reason. If the ice cream man asks us if we want to come for a ride in his truck, we want to know if we're going to be raped and murdered and stuffed in a freezer, or raped and murdered and stuffed in a freezer after eating tons of free ice cream. And if we see an article on Digg, we want to know whether we should click "Digg It" or not, ideally without actually having to read the article.
Digg users are busy people--do you really expect them to sit there and read all that stuff? If your article is worth Digging, cut the bullshit and say so in the headline. Trust me: the community will thank you for it.
Option #6: Play To The CrowdIf you've tried all of the above and you're still not getting anywhere, wow--you're really terrible at this. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and let's face it: you're desperate. You know that can of Lightning Bolt you've been saving for an emergency? This is it. Crack that sucker open--looks like you're pulling an all-nighter.
When all else fails, you can always fall back on statistics. Here's a doozy for you: Every time you mention Civil Liberties being trampled in some way, the number of Diggs you will receive increases tenfold. Try incorporating that theme into your article if possible, even if it has little or nothing to do with it. Your cat died and you wrote a 400,000-word poem about him? Who's to say that GEORGE W. BUSH didn't kill him? You posted a blog entry about how to bake delicious blueberry muffins? Well if the muffins are so delicious, then why is THE GOVERNMENT TRYING TO SILENCE YOU? Your dad blocked your BitTorrent? Don't you mean COMCAST did it?
Whatever you're writing, just keep telling yourself that the government doesn't want people to know about it. Sink into your paranoia like it's a hot bath, and be ready to accuse anyone and anything of attempting to "censor" you. Claim to have been tased, say you're a Scientologist and take down your own post, then write passionate diatribes on two different blogs arguing back and forth over the latest Apple product. It might seem silly while you're doing it, but trust me: Hot button issues like these pay serious dividends on Digg. Why not cash in?
Option #7: Be Cracked.comWhat can I say? They're just kind of good at it, I guess. Is it the subject matter, or the wit of the writers, perhaps? Maybe it's how they turn everything into lists, or the way they lay out their articles across multiple pages? From what I can tell, everyone really seems to really love that. I don't know what it is exactly, but one thing is for sure: Being Cracked.com certainly seems to increase the likelihood you'll get to the front page of Digg.
Unless ... you know ... they bury you.