The Daily Mail and Digg – an unlikely success story?

I’ve always found Digg an interesting place to kill a few minutes. There’s usually a story or two on the homepage worth a read, usually for amusement value.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a trend: articles from the Daily Mail seem to make it to the front page quite often. At first glance, the decidedly right-wing tabloid isn’t a natural fit with the social news site, where there aren’t any editors and the combined votes of users determines which stories get most prominence.

But in defiance of that assumption, here are some of the Daily Mail stories that have appeared on the Digg homepage over the past couple of weeks:

There are more – you can search the site to see them.

A skim through the titles does reveal some common elements. The popular stories are frequently about sex, psuedo-science or some sort of miracle cure.

What does this tell us about the Daily Mail? To be honest, not much. I think there’s some truth in the idea that barely a week goes by without the Mail reporting on some miracle cure or hidden danger in something we eat, drink or do. It’s a similar story with sex; the paper’s love of family values and its focus on moral standards ensure that one of its staples is stories involving a person of responsibility being discovered in some sort of compromising or scandalous position. The articles about the teacher and stewardess above are good examples of these.

But has the Mail discovered a new audience in an unexpected place? I think maybe it has. I don’t know whether there’s been any attempt to ‘game’ Digg (rather like last week’s shenanigans involving stories from Times Online), but I doubt it. I reckon it’s just more likely that the type of story which is the Mail’s bread and butter is also the sort that appeals to people on Digg.

The lesson for the rest of us? Well, let’s be honest: it’s hardly rocket science. If you want your story to go hot on Digg, try and write about sex, sciency-sounding stuff and easy cures for common problems or diseases. Quick fixes are good – how to get better at something without having to make too much of an effort. And it won’t hurt if you can find a technology angle and drop in a photo of a young lady in skimpy clothing too.

Accordingly, the next post on this blog will be titled ‘How having sex with computer programmers protects against cancer and makes you a better person’. That should press most of the Digg crowd’s buttons.

3 responses to “The Daily Mail and Digg – an unlikely success story?”

  1. theredrocket says:

    A really interesting find John. Unfortunately – and I say unfortunately, coz I’m really not a DM fan – is that they’ve got their finger on the pulse of how so many people thing in this country. A friend of mine who works for the BBC said that when working out what are the main topics of the day for BBC News, they pick up a copy of the Daily Mail in their news meetings. Which is more than a little bit worrying.

    Great blog btw ;-)

  2. […] Mc Garveys post is a little me more of a fair and balanced posting, and the comment from a user called theredrocket is even more enlightening. theredrocket April 2, 2008 at 11:15 am […]

  3. […] following the link trail you can see that John McGarvey noticed the sudden influx of Mail stories back in February, while in January Andy Baio discovered The Times was “involved in an extensive campaign to […]

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