Tuesday, January 22, 2008

9 Reasons Why The Digg Story Sells

Most of us know the Digg story. All it took was a scrappy-looking kid with an idea, and lo and behold, online news discovery and aggregation were changed forever. Digg wasn’t the first social bookmarking (now social news) site, nor was it the first to popularize the concept. It was, however, the first site with a story that touched people, and helped the site outgrow all its competition and become an industry (and even mainstream media) darling.

So why does the Digg story sell so well? Here’s a look at 9 elements that make a good story - one that people embrace and propagate through their networks - and how Digg has taken those principles to heart:

A great story rings true.

Digg tells you a story about a world where the media is controlled by a select few. Whether it be mainstream media, or fringe media online, the story outlines a hierarchical system where a few people decide what is important and subsequently feed that to the audience. True here doesn’t mean that it has to be factually true (though the story of Digg is). David and Goliath is a great story but some would say it isn’t necessarily true. True here means that it is authentic and it is consistent. That the story is believed by those who create it and by those who propagate it.

A great story makes a promise.

After outlining the limitations of the existing model of news aggregation, Digg makes you a promise. The promise is that the site will put power in your hands. You get to decide what content is submitted to the site, and you collectively decide which submissions are important enough to be promoted to the site’s front page. With everyone getting an equal say, the content that is promoted is the one that appeals to a majority of the people on the site (or at least the most active users on the site). The site promises to reject any hierarchical system or spoon-feed any content to the community.

The promise is a bold one. It goes against conventional wisdom and as the underdog, the site promises to fight all odds.