Some of us know what hitting the front page of Digg can do: send 20,000 - 200,000+ clicks through to a site. Some of us have even felt the blessing (or curse, depending on how you look at it) of the Digg Effect. But how much do you know about integrating social media, specifically Digg, into your site, and what the benefits of doing so can bring to publishers?

Bob Buch, VP of business development for Digg spoke at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco today and explained that if you want successful social media integration, you need to think chocolate chip cookies. "Much like social media, choc chip cookies are made up of five key ingredients," he explained, "and if you want to succeed, you need to know what those ingredients are."

5 Ingredients for Social Media Success

  1. Sharing: If you love something, set it free
  2. Integration: Don't try to do everything yourself
  3. People: People who know: ROFLCopter, LMAO, PWND, Noob
  4. Platform: One to one is now one to many
  5. Authenticity: Stay true to your core competency

Although Digg has 4.1 million registered users, there are in excess of 35 million people looking at and consuming what registered users are doing. "If you're lucky enough to have Digg users looking at your content, you'll hit front page," Buch said; a tip that should not be dismissed too quickly.

Give Visitors a Customized Experience

In a recent experiment with Conde Nast's Wired, Digg tracked changes on Wired's site to see what, if any effect they would make. Originally Buch explained, the site had a 'share this' button but upon close inspection of traffic logs, it was discovered that the majority of traffic came from Digg, Yahoo! Buzz and StumbleUpon. So they pulled those buttons out of the 'share' widget and displayed them prominently. In doing this, they effectively told their audience - at a glance - "these are the sites we want you to focus on."

Result? An increase from 500,000 clicks from Digg, to over a million.

Another option is to go the College Humor site route and "hit your users with a sledgehammer approach," Buch explained. Particularly noteworthy, is that the site doesn't use the sledgehammer approach with everyone. "They sniff what domain you're coming from, and if you're coming from Digg, they'll hit you with the Digg button - the sledgehammer," Buch explained.

"I haven't seen many publishers do this, but it could be a good way forward; knowing where those users are coming from and giving them a customized experience."

Hire Smart People

The Telegraph, a UK based news site employs social media experts. "In the middle of the newsroom, the Telegraph has two flatscreens. One shows Twitter, the other Digg," said Buch. "These people are focused on Digg. They implemented Smart Digg and have seen page views increase from 500,000 per month to 5.5 million per month."

Automatic Syndication

Buch points to the recent changes at Facebook and talks about Facebook Connect as a great example of integration possibility.

The beauty of Facebook Connect is that it gives you a one stop login when it is implemented on a site. "There is no e-mail; there is no verification process," explained Buch. The advantage of this is that Facebook has recently integrated Facebook Connect into its news feed. "So if you have a share capability on your site - even commenting, that can automatically be placed on a wall; automatic syndication," said Buch.

Results:

  • Registration up 30 - 100%
  • Engagement up 15-80% comments - other ugc
  • Traffic - stories published to newsfeed average 40 friends and 0.8 - 2 clicks

Note: Digg has not yet implemented Facebook Connect, but has Facebook Import (Facebook syndication on Digg) which allows you to automatically update your Facebook wall when you digg a story.

Make the Most Out of Widgets

Time, which wanted to show top stories on Digg had a proviso; it wanted to only show content that originated on Time. It was made possible using the Digg widget and according to Buch, extremely effective. "What we've found is that this tends to be more popular than even home spun 'most popular' widgets." While he explained that it's difficult to know why the Digg widget works better, he speculates it may be the sizing of the font used.

Make it Raw

Buch recommends using the various platforms for corporate communications. "We have a Digg blog, to which we post about once a month," he explained, "and Twitter is a great way to stay in touch with your users between blog posts." Follow @digg to get the latest news from Digg.

"Facebook has given publishers new opportunities," Buch explained. Pages, now public profiles are similar to the Twitter model in that they allow a one way friendship. When talking to Facebook, Buch learned that the most successful publishers were doing more than posting stories, they were using it as a way to share a little more 'intimately.' "Let your reporters upload photos from the field," Buch said. Although they may not make the actual publication, "it's a little more raw."

Find Your Sweet Spot

The real key to success according to Buch is to find out what your core competency is and being true to that. "The Internet is the ultimate bullshit meter. You can not pull anything over anyone on the Internet. They will call you out and make you feel like an idiot. Figure out what your chocolate chips are."

"Digg played with that," said Buch. "We posted RSS feeds for every single category and when we looked at traffic, one feed as much as 100 times exceeded traffic than other feeds. People were engaging; that was the digg2000 feed." "That was where we found our 'sweet spot.'"