While doing that, I found some surprising similarities. People there all seem to have used 1 principle to help each: reciprocity.
In his book Influence: Science and Practice, Robert Cialdini defines reciprocity as, put in simple terms, responding to a favor with a favor. Reciprocity can be negative as well. If you do something bad to a person, that person will probably do something bad to you as well.
Digg, StumbleUpon and Propeller operate on the same principle. Let’s start with Digg.
How Does Digg Work?
On Digg, people “trade” submissions. Here’s how it works:
- First, you add a particular “power user” as a friend. A power user is someone who has a good ‘popular ratio’ over 20%, that is, stories he submitted that went on the front page. The most important of all, he’s active every day. To give you an idea, here are the stats of a typical Digg power user:
- After you add them as a friend, you dig their submissions (Friend’s Activity > Submissions). After 2-4 weeks, a certain percentage of them will add you back as a friend so you’ll both become ‘mutual friends’. Now that you are mutual friends, they will start digging your submissions as well.
You might have noticed that 99% of the people who submit stories that get on the front page on Digg have a big ‘mutual friends’ list:
It should take you around 2-3 months to build a power profile on Digg (I recommend waiting for 2 weeks and if people don’t add you back as a mutual friend, remove them and move on with adding new power users).
This same principle applies to Propeller. Just the process is a bit different. There you will need to have an established account (1-2 months old with a lot of ‘props’ and ‘comments’). Then you need to add a few other established users and wait for a percentage of them to add you back when they see you’re active. Then they’ll send you “shares” via PM (private messaging) so you ‘prop’ their submissions. You can do the same and send them PMs with your submissions.
Do you notice a pattern here? It’s all about you ‘digg’, ‘prop’ what I submit, I ‘digg’, ‘prop’ what you submit. It’s all reciprocity. There are no shiny new tricks or anything like that, it’s an old, proven principle humans used to survive over centuries.
Here is a simple way to find out how to become a power user on almost any social bookmarking site:
- Ask established members for help. If there’s a way to contact them, DO IT on a big scale. Contact 30+ active people asking them to explain to you how things work here and say you’re new. A certain percentage of them will help. Not all of them will respond but a decent percentage will take the time to explain to you how to get started.
- Look for the reciprocity principle. Figure out how people exchange value (in this case, submission votes) there. You now know how it’s being done on Digg and Propeller. I leave it to you to figure how it’s being done on Stumbleupon and Mixx
- Establish a good profile. When adding people on Mixx and Propeller, the key thing is to have a good profile with a decent amount of stories you’ve voted for and commented. This is important because on these sites, unlike Digg, it’s hard for people to track whether you regularly voted for their stories or not so they use the next best indicator which is how active you are (if this person is active, that means he votes regularly and he’ll probably vote for my stories as well).
Now go and take some massive ACTION!