Social Media Backfires
A few years ago I started going to Digg to get my news - the user voting on links to news and other stories usually put interesting reading at the top of the list.
The website supposedly is worth $200 million if it ever went up for sale. In fact, Yahoo, Google and other sites have tried to integrate similar user voting systems for their own links.
Given this popularity and money making potential, the site has recently started accepting posts from advertisers, and this week the site underwent a redesign that apparently its core users do not like.
As a result there has been a revolt in which users vote on posts from competing website Reddit, even going so far as automatically posting Reddit links on Digg's home page. Some of the week's most popular links on Digg's home page are related to how much people do not like Digg. Not good for Digg, but Facebook had a similar identity crisis earlier this year with its security and privacy SNAFUs.
I post this story here because social networking is such a part of the business models of entertainment companies and many other businesses at the moment. This is a lesson that social networks, that is, PEOPLE, are in fact sensitive to how their participation in these networks is respected and/or abused.
As in real life, you must make sure you treat your customers and colleagues with respect - respect their time, their money and their interests. Things can backfire in a heartbeat.
Talk amongst yourselves.
PS - Creative COW is becoming perhaps the most useful social network of all. Our user profile pages now resemble news feeds of threads we participate in, threads our friends participate in, and threads and posts we may be interested in. That's smart.
Yes, Digg's current problems are a nice warning that even agile, modern "plugged in" types like Kevin Rose are susceptible to the lure of thinking that "what *I* want is exactly what the majority of my users must want."
I also think Kevin got caught up in thinking that his audience was like the people that show up to his live Diggnation events. I think that thinking is, in itself, suspect.
I've been a Digg participant for about 5 years now. I check it every day and like Mike, I always valued it as an alternate source of slightly offbeat news and interesting stories that filtered through the attention sieve of the community.
But as much as I enjoy it - I'm neither a fan nor much of a participant in social media. Far too much of social media is, to my tastes, a vast wasteland of drivel. There's hardly ANYONE about whom I wish to "follow" in 140 character bites. Why? Because the percentage of the people in the world who can actually communicate something useful in 140 characters is vanishingly small.
And even with my friends, when big changes happen in life - e.g. status change from "single" to "in a relationship?" somehow I always managed to get that info about anyone I truly cared about without a computer between us.
Yes, some form of social media will remain with us, likely forever. But if Kevin thinks hitching the DIGG wagon to some social media trend is going to enhance it by allowing us to assimilate into "like minded" communities of DIGGERS - all I've got to say is that the whole thing I LIKE about DIGG is that it was a place to stumble on things that were fresh to my perspective.
The whole exercise seems a waste of time to me.
But I'm old. So WTF.
FCP since NAB 1999
creator: muti-track movies
Reminds me of the backlash against Sony for their planted viral for the PS-2.