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Sun Tzu and the art of the Zen Digg

Published on Friday, 13 April 2007

Digg is both reflective of publicity.. and.. value.. and identification.. and controversy. It is aimed at bloggers and technically minded people, in a similar vein to Slashdot. Yet what does it mean for an open source marketing strategy to hit the front page of Digg ? What exactly is being measured here ? What I hope to cover is the investigation of social behaviour across networks that reflect popularity.

News creation

Content is king. It always has been. It always will be on the web. To create meaningful valuable content for people who are randomly browsing your website is the key.

Sure, if you got yourself a pimped out new server and all, really.. why does the rest of the world want to know about it? This is the problem with most Joomla! related material I've seen dug. Most Joomla! stuff I've seen gets miminal digging, even at the best of times. It does not provide a reflection of meaningful value to an end user. It aims at solidifying the pre-existing notions that because Joomla! is well, Joomla!, the rest of the world wants to know about. Perhaps it might dent a few egos that the harsh truth may be not as many people want to know about it.

The world is like a ride at an amusement park. It goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question, is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, "hey - don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride..." And we... kill those people. Ha ha "Shut him up." "We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This just has to be real." Just a ride.
Bill Hicks, Revelations

Click partying like it's 1999

Secondly, by gaming the system through a Digg "click party", you may actually harm the overall credibility of the project or meme you're involved in. In discussions with Google staff at the Melbourne Google Web Publishers forum, I heard a similar anecdote regarding the way Adsense and Adwords works. In this way, the significant difference between the  Digg results for Wordpress, an open source blogging tool, and Digg results for Joomla! can be seen. The Digg results for Wordpress provide meaningful value to bloggers.. which is 90% of the Digg userbase - bloggers networking blogged news. Most of them don't use "monster" apps like Joomla! to manage their work, either.

Neo evangelion

This is where the current marketing / evangelism strategy of Joomla!, imho, falls into a crying, miserable heap. Like Brian Teeman said, if the entire point is to get J! on the frontpage, you're gaming the system (in order to increase relevance for J!). The people who run Digg don't like people gaming their system. Provide meaningful content that everyone will want and people will come to you. Telling the world you've got yourself a new server and stuff isn't valuable to people outside of Joomla!.

In this way, the marketing strategy is insular and segmented, not aimed at providing value for people outside Joomla!. And the only way you're going to provide value outside Joomla! is to help in delivering stuff that people need (which is where the Digg results on Wordpress regarding beautiful templates exemplifies the Digg phenomena).

Conclusions

Content has and always be king, and if the content isn't valuable and the only reason it's going up in Digg stakes is because of some zealous "click party", how does that help people? Every action done on a website should provide some help, some meaningful benefit, both to the person serving the content in the first place, and to the end user, whoever they are, browsing your website. Although, of course, you could always consider social media the way Matthew Inman does.

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