Facebook Squeezes Digg Into A New Business Model

While I personally love using Digg to find my news content, the majority of the internet is perfectly satisfied finding content through their friends. While Digg is in the process of rolling out a new version of their site, Facebook’s decision to release a “like button for the internet” could significantly impact Digg. Combine that with their previously released share analytics and share button, and you can see how Digg is getting squeezed into a new business model.

Digg Abandons Their Community

Digg is preparing to roll out a new version of their site and this time around they could end up abandoning their extremely active community. While I doubt that Digg would completely remove the importance of their user base, it’s hard for Digg to argue that they are an effective aggregator when their demographics skew heavily toward 18 to 25 year old males.

That’s why the company is preparing to unleash a new version of the site with a back-end that’s powered by Facebook’s open source database solution: Cassandra. The company’s new architecture is driven by the need to track data coming in from sources around the web. For example, rather than simply using the community as the basis of what’s popular, the company will now take into consideration the number of shares on Facebook as well as tweets on Twitter.

Facebook can’t take all the credit for Digg’s new found strategy. Twitter was the first company to completely open the stream, giving rise to a mini-industry of aggregators. Right now however, Twitter is still a fraction of the size of Facebook and when Facebook first opened up share analytics, it became clear that the company was dead set on having it’s own industry of aggregators built around the service.

400 Million Users Can’t Be Wrong

While Digg has been regularly criticized for reflecting a small segment of the population, it has become increasingly difficult for the company to publicly state otherwise. With Twitter initially giving rise to a global network of public content distributors (the people sharing) it’s become clear that sharing is the new basis for relevance. After seeing Twitter’s success and an entire ecosystem of aggregators and search services, Facebook realized the need to give developers access to more data.

We sat back and watched Facebook’s Twitterfication take place last year, culminating with the launch of new privacy settings. Now Facebook plans to continue expanding their opening of the platform and the aggregation of information through their global like button. While it wasn’t Facebook’s intention to lessen Digg’s relevance, Twitter and Facebook have made it clear that Digg’s community cannot control the future of timely information.

Digg Adapts And Reinvents Itself

Dealing with the realities of the real-time web Digg is adapting and in the near future will unleash a new version of the site which is truly powered by the real-time web. While the community will have their say in the new algorithm, sites like Facebook and Twitter will become much more important. It’s critical timing for Digg. Over the weekend I was reading the article, “5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying To Get You Addicted” when I noticed the share count on Digg and Facebook (pictured below).

The article had over 18,000 shares on Facebook and only 24 on Digg, preventing it from reaching the coveted homepage. While this isn’t exactly a rare occurrence (AddThis.com has told us that Facebook continues to rise while Digg is down 3 percent), what made this so significant was that Cracked.com (the site where this article was published) is a Digg.com community favorite. It’s so popular within Digg that the site has entire box within the sidebar dedicated to content that’s currently trending on Digg.

If Cracked.com recognizes that more of their traffic begins coming from Facebook and not from Digg, it’s only natural that they’ll reduce their emphasis on “Diggable content”. Fortunately for Digg, all is not lost as they are adapting rapidly. However as domestic traffic continues to drop according to Compete.com, the importance of the Digg redesign could not be any more clear.

Only time will tell what happens to Digg but shifting business models has been necessitated by a more open Facebook.

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