by Steven Snell
Pligg is an open source content management system that powers thousands of websites. For those who are looking to start their own social media site, Pligg is a popular option. It’s free, fairly easy to use and customize, and it’s probably the fastest way for a new social media site to launch.
Social media sites that are built with Pligg are very similar to Digg in that users submit links and other users vote on what they like and what they don’t. Most Pligg sites look very similar with little customization, and they can usually be picked out as Pligg sites right away. On the other hand, there are some Pligg sites that are much more attractive and, more importantly, they have successfully built a community and an audience around the site.
My opinion of Pligg is neither positive nor negative. I think most of the sites built on Pligg are going nowhere because of a lack of customization and a lack of a community around the site. However, Pligg gives anyone the ability to create a site that would otherwise be pretty complex.
Although it is an easy way to start a social media site, trying to directly challenge the likes of Digg is not a wise decision. Every successful social media site built on Pligg has found something unique, whether it is a specific niche audience or something else, which allows it to thrive without just being a poor Digg rip-off.
Here is a look at 3 successful social media sites that are powered by Pligg. All of them have made some changes and customizations to the basic Pligg look, and each has found an audience that is allowing the site to grow.
Sphinn is a highly successful niche social media site that targets the areas of internet marketing and search engine optimization. Sphinn users are very educated on these particular topics, which has really helped Sphinn to be able to create a strong community around the site. Highly-focused and informative content does well on Sphinn, and some types of content that do well on major social media websites will not do well on Sphinn.
The design of Sphinn really does not resemble the typical Pligg style. In fact, it’s very possible to visit Sphinn and not even realize that it is built on Pligg.
The key to success for Sphinn has been its strong community and the focused content that gets submitted by users. It’s connection with Search Engine Land and Danny Sullivan has also been a huge factor as it was able to gain new users very quickly. Sphinn was also aided by a recommendation from Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.
Design Float is a Digg-clone especially for web designers and graphic designers. The content that can be found on Design Float is much more focused than that of a general news site, but it still has a good deal of variety that touches on all aspects of design and topics that are relevant to designers.
While Design Float looks a little bit more like the typical Pligg site than Sphinn does, it has had a great deal of customization and it was even featured in a number of CSS galleries, which provided a great deal of exposure to a targeted audience of designers.
The keys to Design Floats success include an ability to send a higher number of targeted visitors than most other niche sites, as well as the initial exposure that it received from CSS galleries.
Unlike Sphinn and Design Float, BloggingZoom is more of a general news site than a niche site. It was started by Courtney Tuttle and Vic, which gave it some initial buzz and helped it to get off the ground. As a general news site BloggingZoom has a different angle for competing against major social media sites. The site is built to rank well with search engines, which will of course ultimately drive more search traffic to the links that are submitted. Part of this is a rule requires users to enter at least a 350 character description, which helps to rank well in the SERPs. BloggingZoom originally banned users from copying and pasting the description in order to avoid duplicate content penalties, but that has recently been lifted.
The design of BloggingZoom was recently changed. Although it looks less like a typical Pligg site than it did initially, the new design has received mixed reviews.
The key to BloggingZooms early success has been its focus on SEO and driving organic traffic to submissions. Although it does not yet provide the burst traffic of a major social media site, it still has significant value in that it can produce ongoing search engine traffic.