Social news is a type of social media website. Submitted links are the centerpiece of this type of social media.
Three core features of social news:
- Users submit links to articles, photos, videos, etc.
- Users vote on submitted content.
- Highest rated content is featured on the homepage.
Here are 6 reasons why social news matters for your business or website.
1. Massive Amounts of Traffic
The biggest attraction of social news sites is the massive amount of traffic they can bring in a short period of time. It can be upwards of 50,000+ page views in a single day. Getting on the homepage of Digg once often wakes up an addict-like craving in the webmaster to "go popular" again.
Unfortunately, most of those 50k readers from a social news site will immediately leave your site after reading the article. Without clicking on any ads, looking around the site, or buying any products (or subscribing to your feed). On top of that, having thousands of them visiting your site at the same time might kill your web server. Some people come right out and say Digg traffic sucks.
Yes, the vast majority of social news visitors won't "convert" (whatever that means to your particular website), but they're still worth it because of what comes after the massive wave of traffic.
Besides, who would rather not get those 50,000 page views? Not me.
2. Bump in Subscribers and Regular Readers
The biggest social news sites like Digg or Reddit can send upwards of 50,000 page views in a single day. It's a big win even if only 1% of the primary traffic spike finds your site interesting enough to bookmark, subscribe, share, or blog about. That's potentially 500 new subscribers or sales!
The good news is that we can expect the conversion rate to increase as more niche social news sites pop up. Instead of massive, non-sticky traffic, the social news sites of the (near) future will send smaller bursts of highly targeted traffic that will be much more likely to click around your site and/or subscribe to your feed or newsletter.
3. Inbound Links and Targeted Traffic
In addition to the bump in subscribers or bookmarks, you can expect a wave of new inbound links.
Those new inbound links (a vote of confidence for your site) will send a secondary wave of traffic. This wave will be smaller, but it will be highly targeted traffic.
The links themselves add significant long-term value because the number and relevancy of inbound links to your website directly determines how well you rank in search engine results.
4. High Return On Investment
When done properly, a social media campaign can provide a very high ROI.
You can spend a day or so writing one article. If that article goes popular on one or more social sites, you can expect thousands of visitors and links.
Going with our previous estimate of a 1% conversion rate, compare a successful social news campaign with the cost of acquiring 500 new subscribers or customers. How many comments would you have to leave on other blogs? How many clicks (and how much per click) would you have to pay to get that kind of sales bump?
5. Establish Your Online Brand / Reputation
If you are an insanely helpful and interesting contributor to the community, you can build quite a following in your niche. Having potential customers see you as an industry/niche leader is a very big competitive advantage.
A social news site is just another form of an online community. The same strategies and benefits of successful forum marketing apply to social media sites. Be helpful. Don't rock the boat. Don't over-promote yourself.
6. Social News Is The Future -- And We Need More Thought Leaders
Social media is still in its infancy. The field is currently dominated by tech and humor centric sites that appeal to an early adopter user base.
But it's expanding. Social news is getting more mainstream everyday. Within 5 years, we'll see a social news site for every conceivable topical or business niche.
Whether you sell Harry Potter books or write a blog about rare orchids, there's probably a social news site being built (or already built) for you. Social news is expanding into an ever larger number of niches. And we're going to need thought leaders in every niche.
Sites like Mixx let users create their own categories, and only see those categories on the Mixx homepage. This feature lets users basically "create their own" social news site. Digg is planning to roll out a similar feature within a few months, and Reddit has recently open sourced its source code for anyone to use. Other open source software like Pligg and Drigg are already powering niche social news sites.