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Tweetmeme's Meteoric Rise Reveals Twitter's Search Issue

Techmeme has become one my primary navigational sources for daily reading / news (others include email, Google RSS, Facebook, NYTimes, TechCrunch, etc). Twitter isn't yet there because it is simply too noisy to be efficient.

Techmeme solves a specific need: revealing quality, trending content across a variety of blogs and news sources. That same need exists on Twitter... and it can be argued it is both a harder AND more important task (after all, there is more noise and less context).

Perhaps that is why Tweetmeme is surging: it solves an important need for an immensely popular service. And as Twitter grows, Tweetmeme becomes even more important, sources more content and services a larger community. According to Compete, Tweetmeme now reaches 3.6m monthly uniques - a hefty number by any measurement. Equally impressive though is that Tweetmeme's reach represents nearly 20% of Twitter's monthly uniques (19.7m). Furthermore, as Twitter's growth flattened from April to May, Tweetmeme's more than doubled (1.6m to 3.6m):

tweetmeme traffic

Is this to say that Tweetmeme is the perfect service? No.

It is important however because it demonstrates: - a glaring need / opportunity within Twitter (either for third parties or Twitter itself) - the difficulty that finding poses (both algorithmic search and social search)... particularly in Twitter's dynamic world of 140 characters - a clear demand from users (after all, Tweetmeme's monthly uniques are 20% of Twitter's!) - a threat for sites like Digg and Stumbleupon... which Tweetmeme (or Twitter itself) can effectively compete with - an opportunity for - which is sitting on a goldmine of data surrounding referrals and links


Should Facebook Acquire FriendFeed, Twitter and/or Digg?

Over the last few years - in *numerous* settings - I have heard different variations of the following: “Why should we build it internally when we can let it be proven elsewhere… and either build or acquire then?” This logic makes sense if you: 1) have the resources and manpower to build and/or integrate the product 2) have enough users that you can either catch up to competitors or accelerate an acquired company

I’ve thought a lot about this as Twitter and FriendFeed continue to grow and as Facebook has begun to experience declining traffic. My personal feeling is that, as products and consumer services, Twitter nor FriendFeed should really exist on their own; rather, they are products (pun intended) of Facebook’s oversight. Think about it – Twitter and FriendFeed are more powerful, distributed versions of the social feed.

And as Facebook’s traffic begins to decline, it’s increasingly obvious that they are taking note of this new generation of social interaction. Just yesterday, Facebook expanded their Feed product (making an obvious push into FriendFeed’s territory) and they are including more and more native profile enhancements (seemingly) modeled after utilities and applications built by 3rd parties and proven successful by the community.

What will become interesting is whether Facebook is able to push either Twitter or FriendFeed aside (or the next upcomer) … and with their massive user-base, that is a real possibility. Or, will Facebook become a web 2.0 acquirer (like Yahoo, Google and eBay)? Acquired web 2.0 sites like Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Flickr - and potential targets like Digg, Twitter and FriendFeed – might make a lot of sense to Facebook (and help invigorate their site usage).

Relevant reading: Techmeme's top few headlines are all about FriendFeed today

The Front Page Effect – Why I’d Rather Be on Techmeme than Digg, Mixx, etc

On Friday, I had my first Techmeme ‘headline’ and it offered the chance to compare what I refer to as “The Front Page Effect” – what happens when your website / article appears on the homepage of social news sites. Based on my experiences and what data I have available on my websites, I am going to include the following sites: - Digg - Techmeme - Hacker News (YCombinator) - StumbleUpon - Daily Aggregators (for my purpose, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks) - Top Blog Mentions (in other words, having a major blog link to you in a prominent way. For my purpose, Deadspin) - Second Tier Social News like Reddit, Mixx, etc

My conclusion will likely surprise you… as it surprised me until yesterday. So here it is: I’d rather have my article hit the front page of Techmeme than any other social site. And here’s why:

Traffic (Absolute & Velocity) If you are after traffic – and for some websites and companies it’s the most important factor – there is no question that Digg is the most impactful. Hitting the front page of Digg can deliver up to 50,000 uniques within 24 hours… which is incredible. In fact, the traffic comes so quickly that it often causes a “Digg Effect” – either bringing a website to crawl or collapse. Digg delivers 25,000-50,000 uniques (depending on the article and category) – but it also delivers a 1:1 visit / pageview ratio… meaning that bounce rate is essentially 100%.

After Digg, the most powerful traffic driver is being linked from either a daily aggregator or a prominent blog. As examples, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Links drives 10-20,000 uniques and Deadspin can drive 5,000. Traffic comes steadily for 24 hours and then disappears into what the archives of content… in other words, don’t expect residual traffic.

Techmeme and HackNews deliver consistent streams of traffic. Techmeme drove 2,500 uniques to the featured post on Friday and having the top post on Hacker News will bring ~1,000 uniques. Visits coming from both sites seem to be longer than traffic arriving from Digg (1pv/visit) and blogs (1-2pv/visit).

It’s tough to know whether you are ‘featured’ on StumbleUpon. A very popular page on StumbleUpon will generate strong traffic – but it’s unpredictable and consequently arrives in spurts. It’s also very tough to measure.

No offense to Mixx and Reddit (and I quite like Mixx) – but the traffic really isn’t significant.

Comparison: Traffic Volume Delivered Over First 8 Hours

Reader Engagement

If you are after pageviews, Digg is the most powerful lever you can pull … but multiples. But, it is not great at driving user engagement on your site (comments, emails, backlinks, etc). Digg users are used to interacting on – often discussing the article with Digg’s community. This effect also exists with links from prominent blogs or inclusion in daily aggregators: users are finding your site through other locations and communities that they are already interacting on. Users will commonly return to those destinations for discussion.

The highest level of engagement comes from Techmeme and Hacker News – both of which deliver very high quality interaction… in high quantities. The resulting comments and emails are very intelligent and relevant. If you are writing for traffic, focus on Digg. If you are looking to build a community or drive conversation on your blog – try Hacker News and Techmeme. Revenue

In general, you won’t get rich from a front page mention unless you are selling CPM ads. Of course, you can value the traffic in other ways (brand, site growth, etc) – but if your ads are on a per-click or per-lead basis, your eCPMs will fall dramatically. As an example, Digg will deliver 25-50,000 incremental pageviews… but the overwhelming result is a pageview and, after reading the content, an exit. This is consistent with traffic from major blogs, aggregators, etc – and my hypothesis again is that the user mindset is to consume and return to their original destination. eCPMs will not fall dramatically though because the traffic is not as significant.

Meanwhile, I was very surprised that CPMs and advertising revenues went after the Techmeme link. eCPMs increased by 5x and I had my highest revenue day ever for this blog… Two hypotheses (and they are just that):

1) if Techmeme delivers more engaged users (per my earlier point), they are likely to be more valuable 2) Techmeme delivers higher ‘value’ users in that they are heavily tech

SEO Impact This blog has been around for just a few months and it’s already a pagerank 5. I attribute a good portion of that to Digg, Techmeme and Hacker News – which are all highly valued by Google and deliver additional blog links, etc… creating a virtuous SEO cycle. (I also attribute a good portion to my SEO background!)

I have no way of accurately ranking the SEO value of these sites – but Digg and Techmeme are powerful. Hacker News is as well. The others are less prominent and not as optimized for search.

Brand It’s also important to consider the ‘brand’ impact of making the frontpage. I would argue that appearing on the front door of any of these premier sites is good for establishing a brand / name… after all, the NYTimes and TechCrunch are regulars on both Digg and TechCrunch. If you are in technology, Techmeme brings credibility and suggests that your article is beyond just interesting – its important. Links from top blogs bring credibility in that respective vertical… also important in building a brand.

So here’s the one line summary (with enough punctuation to make it capably lengthy):

An appearance on Techmeme’s homepage (or other vertical-specific hubs) delivers 1/15th of the traffic that can; however, that traffic is more qualified and more engaged – and therefore more valuable.

*Update* After posting this article, it's gone to frontpage of Hacker News (which has a surprisingly high volume of traffic for Sunday morning). As you consider the impact of social media on your content and websites - it's important to remember that you need to be able to measure the results. Here is a screenshot of SlimStat (a plugin I use for Wordpress) - but you can analyze your logs, use Google Analytics, Mint, etc. Everyone's data will be different and the critical part is knowing what works for your site and your readers.

Also, I had a couple people ask me if this means that I no longer like Digg and let me be clear: I love Digg. I use it routinely as a reader and publisher (probably too much). It has become one of my core navigational start-points for the web.

*Update 2* Techcrunch has posted about the top 100 bloggers based on Techmeme

New SocialFeed Widget (...Your FriendFeed Widget-ized)

Yesterday Scoble unveiled his new blog theme and the resounding feedback among the 150+ comments was positive... and how'd he create that FriendFeed widget? For those web 2.0 users, Widgetbox has a new widget that aggregates your social content - we're calling it the SocialFeed Widget. The widget is completely configurable.

Configurations - set the widget's size - choose the theme (currently 6 available) - select your web 2.0 sites and input your username (Flickr,, Pownce, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, Digg and Delicious) - set your font size and feed size - input your widget's header and name

Of course you can create your own SocialFeed and embed it within your blog's sidebar as a promotional tool and traffic driver... or you can configure your SocialFeed to showcase content from popular power-users (like Jason Calacanis, Robert Scoble, etc). and Wists - I Can't Get Enough. Seriously.

In my move to San Francisco, I have relied heavily on blogs and shopping destinations like to furnish my place. I happened across and had two reactions:  1) I love this site. It's freaking awesome and I just wasted 15 minutes of my day viewing 200 different pages and products that:

a) I would have never found otherwise b) I definitely can't afford 

2) I want more.... CribCandy, part of, is web 2.0 while being stuck on web 0.5. There is no productive way to search. No browse paths other than a few tags and a previous / next button. There is no way to interact with other users and/or create my own Why can't I build my own home?  Why can't I showcase my own collection? And what if I want to showcase my unfinished room and gather input for what's needed?

I want to do all of those things - but can't. So instead, I am stuck viewing page after page of awesome product wondering why there isn't an awesome finding experience to match.  I guess I am looking for some combination of:CribCandy meets Polyvore meets Amazon meets StumbleUpon.