Sometime ago I installed small links that appear under each post that give an easier access to post the article to various social networking sites.
I didn't do it to get more traffic on the site, as we have a nice community of pros and students already, but I thought to go with the flow and do as other blogs do. I just looked it up the effectiveness of the buttons on digg and an interesting thing happened.
Before at least a dozen times AotW articles were posted on digg. Since the buttons were installed not even one article was put up on digg. Because we are talking about big numbers of readers and hundreds of articles, I would not say that this is caused by the quality of the articles or number of readers. I think the quality is stable and we have more readers than ever before at 10K unique visitors a day. Digg is also doing very well with more users every month.
So, the only conclusion I can make is that the buttons have a negative effect on articles being posted. Pitching social networking so obviously as putting link on bottom of each article seems to be too blunt for readers.
Now, of course all this is of very limited interest to most ad people. I guess only ones who care are the guys and girls running blogs of their own.
However there is a bigger lesson in this story. When somebody is trying to go viral, do not make it too easy. Do not put up a video on your site and say: link this video on digg — make it go viral! If people like the stuff, people will link it without you begging for it. However, if you push too hard, readers will not be willing to make an effort to make your viral succeed. On the other hand, if the material isn't liked, you're doomed anyway.
Yes, you have to give the option to embed and download your wanna be viral. But, don't put the bloody digg links next to it. Pitch with modesty and with respect to your readers.
So, what do you say? Shall I remove the links?