Facebook May Help Digg’s Traffic, But Overall Engagement Is Still Down

The pageviews for news aggregation website Digg.com is up 35% in January and they have seen their highest traffic numbers since October 2010. The main reason for the jump is because of the Digg Social Reader application, which pushes stories read by users to Facebook automatically. Essentially Facebook referral traffic was up 67% in January. This app is similar to the Washington Post Social Reader and the Yahoo! Social Bar.

“As compared to stories read on Digg (without Digg Social Reader turned on) — there are two main differences,” stated Digg software engineer Will Larson. “Entertainment stories were 14 percent of all stories read but less than 4 percent of those added to the Timeline. Likewise, political stories comprise less than two percent of those added to a user’s Timeline but close to 10 percent of what people read. The differences are significant enough to begin to predict a new type of reading behavior.”

“Can Facebook help Digg forge a full-fledged comeback?” wrote VentureBeat editor Jennifer Van Grove. I highly doubt it will. Digg hit its peak in 2008 when people were going crazy about the election. Digg 4.0 led to the company’s self-destruction in terms of keeping people engaged.

Throw in the sponsored stories and you will notice that the homepage is not controlled by the power of the community, but rather media companies with big budgets instead. I saw a sponsored story with 9 Diggs sitting on the homepage today. Nine!

What am I basing my engagement rate claims on? Just look at the average number of Digg votes per story on the homepage. Back in 2008, the average Digg story was hitting hundreds of Diggs. Today each average story has less than 100 Diggs.

Just to hit the Digg homepage if you weren’t “white-listed” would require 150+ Diggs and about 10 comments. If you look at the Digg homepage regularly, you will notice that the same 100 or so white-listed websites are home-paged over and over again. Digg’s homepage lacks diversity, which is why I still think that they are terrible.

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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