Social news sites were some of the first social sites that were not a pure social network. The poster child of social news is Digg. As the king of social news, Digg sees almost 33.5 million unique visitors per month according to Compete. The bigger question is how other social news sites are doing, and has the rise of sites like FriendFeed or new features in other sites affected social news. With this in mind, I took a look at the four major social news sites, Digg, Mixx, Reddit and Propeller.
I have not included Digg in any of the graphs because they skew the view too much. At the end of February, I already stated that Digg had almost 33.5 million unique visitors. This would be a very solid number by itself. However, Digg saw a 51% increase in the past year. Obviously, Digg has not been negatively affected, and may even be seeing some growth due to the sharing on sites like FriendFeed.
On the other hand, Mixx, Reddit and Propeller fit nicely together on a graph:
I compared the general trends for these sites to Alexa and Quantcast to determine if there was anything completely wrong, but the trends are the same for all three sites. Mixx and Reddit are doing quite well, while Propeller is fairly flat or trending negatively.
According to Alexa and Quantcast, Mixx has significantly more traffic than what is shown by Compete. First, Compete only measures US traffic. Quantcast is global and is directly measured for Mixx. Based on the Quantcast data, Mixx has similar traffic to Reddit, 5 to 6 million unique visitors per month. I cannot do a direct comparison as Reddit’s global traffic data is not readily available.
So, what does this all mean? Given the growth of Mixx and Reddit, I think it is fair to say that other social sites are not affecting them negatively either. Both Mixx and Reddit are building communities with their own sub-Mixxes and sub-Reddits. This will keep them growing for quite some time. Will they ever challenge Digg? I am starting to doubt that they really need to. The power in the Mixx and Reddit sites are the smaller communities because the users are passionate about what they are reading and sharing. Digg is the king of the general social news site, and people go there just to read what is interesting in general news topics. So, there is a different target audience and purpose.
Lastly, what has happened to Propeller? I have never been active on Propeller, so I cannot comment on the passion of the user community. However, every traffic trend has them trending downward and badly. They are not in the news nearly as often as the others, and you rarely hear about new features. I am wondering if AOL has let Propeller try to sustain itself or just quietly die. It is a shame as it was once a passionate community before the AOL purchase.
Not surprisingly, Mixx and Reddit are using the niche community idea to their advantage. This allows them to avoid direct competition with Digg, while still being very similar. It will be interesting to see what these sites have in store for the rest of this year.