Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 5 years or so, you know what both Digg and Twitter are, and there’s a pretty darn good chance that you’ve used either, or both, even if not on a somewhat regular basis.
Just in case you like your rock and you don’t ever ever want to leave it, here’s a quick rundown:
Digg: Founded in 2004 by Kevin Rose after he came up with the idea and paid a freelance programmer $10 an hour to code the site for him. Since then Digg has become one of the top social media sites on the internet, now boasting 30 million unique visitors per month, as well as being ranked in the top 100 most trafficked sites, on the entire internet, according to Alexa. It’s real simple, people submit news articles (and other stories), and the user base on Digg either gives it the thumbs up or the thumbs down, thumbs up being known as “diggs”. I digg this story. Get it? Get enough diggs, and the story gets pushed to the front page of digg, where millions of visitors will see it, click on it, and in a lot of cases, render the website completely useless until the “digg effect” has passed.
Twitter: Twitter was founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, and Evan Williams. It’s model is really simple, you get 140 characters to post anything you want. An update about what you’re doing, where you’re at, who you’re going to the bar with tonight, etc. You can “follow” people, which allows you to see their updates, and people can “follow” you, which allows them to see your updates. All that sounds really, really stupid right? Who would use such a thing? What’s the point? Well, it’s quite useful in a lot of ways really, but that’s another story for another time. It’s been proven that people like the service and continue to use it.
So now that you know what’s what and who’s who, you can begin to understand the impact this could have, if twitter is in fact becoming more popular than Digg.
Reports are in from HitWise that say that the market share of visits to Twitter passed Digg this week, putting Twitter at #84 in their category, and Digg at #85 in the same category. One thing to keep in mind however, Twitter is very heavily used on cell phones, either by iPhone (or blackberry) Apps, or by simply sending a text message to the twitter service. Those numbers are not measured by any (to my knowledge) online service such as hitwise. It appears that Twitter could have passed Digg weeks or months ago, but all we have is the data that is in front of us, so we won’t speculate.
So what does all this mean? Well who knows really. Digg laid off some people this week facing tough economic times (and arguments across the internet stating that there’s no way in hell a company like Digg, who has 100% user submitted content, needs 75 employees anyway), but I do not think Digg will be going anywhere anytime soon. One reason is that Digg has somewhat of a business model, where as twitter has pretty much no business model at all, and currently, although they have $20 million dollars in funding, they don’t make any money. There are no advertisements, there is no premium service, nothing. In fact they pay money to cell phone providers in order to allow their millions of users (myself included) to send SMS messages to the service.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months between Twitter and Digg, both fundamentally different from each other, yet both share a good portion of each others user base.