5 Ways to Improve the Digg App
The digg.com Facebook application has a little under 20,000 users. According to the digg blog they reached 1 million registered users in early March. Even if we reduce this number to the number of active digg users we can see that only a small percentage of the digg userbase is using the Facebook application. Why?
Demographics aren't the reason since, according to some reports about digg's demographics I'd be very surprised if most people on digg didn't also have a Facebook account. The reason is actually pretty simple. Digg's application doesn't exploit the core of Facebook's platform: the social graph.
digg.com is a social bookmarking site. More than just letting people submit and vote on links it lets people see what their friends submitted, voted, and commented on. The social component is import to digg's success, but Facebook's social graph is more interesting because it reflects the social connections we have in real life. Digg can use this to its advantage.
Put Digg on Facebook
Digg has more to gain than to lose from the Facebook, not least because Facebook has an order of magnitude more active users than digg. So why not start big and create a Facebook-ified version of digg? Users would submit, vote, and comment on items directly from Facebook.
This would pit digg against Facebook's own link-submission mechanism, but with the added benefit of the digg algorithm to surface the interesting content. Wouldn't it be awesome if the most common way people submitted links to Facebook was via the digg application? Monetization shouldn't be an issue since Facebook allows for ads.
More interesting profile box
People like to have interesting and customizable profile pages. The more personalized it is, the better. The digg application should give us the option of including all or some of the content we're interested in showing off.
Some people show their interest by digging stories and some by commenting on stories, so both of those should be options. For active submitters being able to include submitted stories is also important since this makes their Facebook profile act as a mini-advertisement for the stories they've submitted.
Use the newsfeed
The newsfeed is one of the keys to viral success on Facebook and the digg app doesn't use it at all. This is probably one reason why it only has 20k users. The newsfeed should update whenever I digg a story, comment on a story, or submit a story.
For video submissions (or image submissions once digg gets an image section) the newsfeed post could contain a thumbnail version. There should always be a "digg this" link directly in the newsfeed item. This keeps the interaction within the flow of Facebook and would increase my use of digg since I know at least 100-some people would always see what stories I submit.
Use the Graph, Luke!
I'm on Facebook. I have my friends. They may or may not be my friends on digg, although I know a lot of my friends use digg. The digg app should let me see the stories they've dugg, submitted, and commented on whether we're friends on digg or not.
The app could also break down the diggs by network. What's the most popular story in the San Francisco, CA network? How about the Google, Inc. network? At the very least I'd like to see what's popular in my networks, especially since digg doesn't store any of this kind of information on their end.
Sharing and Inviting
The digg app should make it easier to share digg links on Facebook. I can't count the number of times per day I send links to people via IM or Facebook because I think they're funny, interesting, or whatever else. More often than not I found them on digg.
The digg app should also include an "invite friends" page which allows me to invite en masse all my friends who haven't installed the digg app. This is perhaps the easiest way to get Facebook users actively using digg, either directly or via the digg app.
With these features let's imagine the flow of the Facebook app. I come to the Facebook. I see that my friend has submitted a story to digg, so I click the "digg this" link without ever leaving Facebook.
I submit a story to digg. My mini-feed is updated stating that 'Jesse submitted "The most hilarious video EVER!!!!!!" to digg.' My friends see this in their newsfeed and all click "digg this," because if I say it's the most hilarious video ever then they know I'm serious.
You get the idea. Basically Facebook provides an excellent way for digg to spread into a richer social setting.
Facebook has done something remarkable in modeling the social graph that exists in the real world. Opening up this data is as remarkable as it would be if Google released their internal graph of the web, in my opinion.
While the most popular apps right now are generally gimmicks just look at the numbers. The largest applications have maybe 3-4 million users, but Facebook has over 25 million registered users. Zuckerberg has stated that only 1/3 of the Facebook has interacted with a Facebook app. Although he was talking about his surprise with the speed at which the Facebook platform I see the potential for huge gains. Beyond gimmicks I believe the apps that will be the most successful and most valuable for Facebook will be those that effectively exploit the social graph.
If you view digg as an enhanced version of Facebook's own link-sharing mechanism the fit is almost perfect. Not only would Facebook benefit from digg's technology but digg would benefit by a more effective and viral distribution mechanism.
Any other ideas? Leave a comment!
P.S., give my Facebook app, Bookshelf, a try. It lets you post your personal collection of books, CDs, DVDs, and video games and share them with your friends and neighbors.