Since starting up my own blog, I’ve developed an obsession with checking my webstats. I average about 30 unique visits a day, which I think is quite healthy. My audience could be broadly defined as people who are interested in technology capacity building for grassroots advocacy with marginalised communities. I blog a lot about training experiences and had decided to give a blog post about a recent training experience the provocative title of ‘What I learned from Drug Users.‘
The title did what I wanted it to do, and I could see both through Twitter retweets and my stats that my intended audience – my peers – were reading it. Then something fantastic happened on my webstats – they skyrocketed. I had 200 unique visitors on my site and it wasn’t even 9am (I’m in the UK, GMT time zone FYI). At first I thought it was a mistake or that there was a glitch on a server, but checking my referrers list, I found a majority of the traffic was coming from Digg.com. Flipping over to their web page, I found my post ‘What I Learned from Drug Users’ on their site, second from the bottom. I was ecstatic! I felt like I’d hit the big time!
After I had a moment to take a breath and sip some coffee, I realised I had no idea what to do to take full advantage of what was happening. So I decided to send an email off to the eCampaigning forums list and post to colleagues on Facebook. From those posts I got some surprising advice. Basically, Digg wasn’t my crowd and my blog piece was not geared for a ‘general’ reading audience. So if I was to quickly rewrite the piece for a completely different audience, I might be able to take advantage of the attention.
But then I thought – why? What was it I would get from getting the attention of Digg readers? I was already satisfied by the attention the piece had gotten from the community it was intended for so what else did I want? It has also subsequently been translated into German by the organisers of the training. On Facebook, Beth Kanter recalled how Global Giving had a post that went to the top of Reddit but didn’t result in higher donation rates (her blog post on that plus video can be found here). So I decided to let it go, and sure enough, by mid-day I was un-digged, clearly not dugg by readers and had fallen off the page.
However, the more useful advice I got by asking about Digg was getting feedback on the blog post itself. On the ECF list, Rachel Collinson from Engaging Networks offered this: ‘aim for sentences that have 15-17 words. If you tighten up the writing a bit (shorten sentences, avoid passive voice, limit word length, avoid jargon) that will help.’ Considering how much I love to do a brain dump as a writing exercise with commas flying like crazy, this was well taken. Ryan Barolet-Fogerty from Castyour.net affirmed that it was a helpful post for campaigners but it had probably garnered the attention of Digg for the title and the curated list of resources.
Also moving my resources section off to a separate and more easy to find post was great advice from Rachel – also something I noticed that Beth Kanter does effectively. Charlotte Cooper of Women’s eNews concurred with this, but also pointed out the importance of using social networks to engage and sustain dialogue and to be clear about your goals. Which thankfully, aside from the Digg posting, I had already felt I’d achieved.