Close your eyes for a moment and go back with me to 2006.
Twitter was a newborn. Facebook wasn’t nearly the behemoth that it is today. Google+? Yeah, right. Social media was a fairly new term at the time, and back then it boiled down primarily to two websites: MySpace and Digg.
For publishers, it was really all about Digg. If your content hit the Digg home page, you’d see incredible traffic spikes (like the one a brand new Search Engine Land saw in December 2006). We called it the “Digg effect,” and many websites were knocked offline by the tidal wave of traffic the site would send.
The “Digg effect” eventually died as users abandoned the site, which was sold last year for a meager $500,000, then re-imagined and rebuilt by its new owners, Betaworks, in about six weeks.
Now open your eyes again. Because that’s what I had to do this week when I saw the “Digg effect” come back in full force, sending more traffic to a popular article I wrote than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined. Here’s the story….
A Google Glass Driving Ticket Story Goes Viral
I write regularly about Google Glass here on Marketing Land (and Search Engine Land), but I also have a site called Glass Almanac where I write about the non-marketing, non-search aspects of Glass.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, I published an article about a traffic stop in the San Diego area involving a fellow Glass Explorer: California Woman Gets the First Ticket for Driving with Google Glass.
When I woke up 6-7 hours later, the article had gone viral. I think Techmeme picked it up first, and it spread from there:
- It was listed on (and linked to by) CNN Trends.
- It was listed and linked from the New York Times Technology page.
- It was “hot” on LinkedIn Today.
- It had inbound links from Buzzfeed, CBC.ca, Sky.com and numerous other news sites.
And despite all of that, it was another site that sent the most referral traffic: Digg.
The article appeared on the Digg home page (shown above), and also on the Technology tag page (where you can still see it by scrolling down a bit).
As you can see, Digg sent more than 2x as many visits as Techmeme, and more than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined. The article didn’t hit the Reddit home page, however. I’m sure the analytics above would look a lot different if it had.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Digg was the top referral source for a viral article — the first time I’ve seen that happen in … I don’t know how long. Not months, years.
It’s not just this one instance, either. Our own analytics show that Digg is the No. 7 social referral source for Marketing Land so far in 2013, ahead of sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon. BuzzFeed noticed Digg’s resurrection last November. GigaOm wrote about it just a couple months ago, in a story where we learn that Digg was getting about three million unique visitors per month at the time.
So, don’t be surprised if you notice it, too, at some point.
The “Digg effect” is back.