Marketing From A Woman's Point of View

Social Bookmarking 101 – What Is It and How Does It Work?

With all the talk about micro-blogging on Twitter or Facebook, there is another side to the coin that you must consider to fully engage in social media marketing.  It’s called Social Bookmarking.

This is Part 1 of a 4 part series covering all the basics, including how social bookmarking works, how to create the best profile, creating effective bookmarking habits for marketing, and where to find friends.

A recent case study was done by Mike Stelzner of White Paper Source, entitled “Social Media Marketing Industry Report: How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses”.  Marketers were asked which social media tools they most wanted to learn more about. Social bookmarking sites slightly edged out Twitter for the number-one slot with small businesses owners being much more interested in understanding social bookmarking sites than other groups.

What is Social Bookmarking?

Try to look at it just the way you see it…Bookmarking is what you do when you’re on your computer browsing around and you find a website that you want to save or file away for later use, right?  The Social part is that you can now use web based bookmarking to share those saved sites with friends, colleagues, and the world.

To make it a little clearer, think of the difference between using Hotmail or Gmail instead of your Outlook or work-based  email platform.  Generally, Outlook or work-based emails may only be accessible while on your own computer, but web based emails like Gmail or Hotmail can be checked from any computer anytime you can get onlne.  In the same way, with social bookmarking, your bookmarks can be accessed and shared anytime, even when you are not there, because they are stored with an online community like Delicious who then will store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet.

I’ve listed four of my favorite social bookmarking sites below.  We will go over how to create profiles in the next article, but this is just for you to get an idea of what is out there.

  • Delicious
  • Stumble Upon
  • Digg
  • Reddit

How Does It Work

These stored bookmarks can be public, private or shared with only a specific group of users. You can view those bookmarks in different ways: chronologically, by specific criteria, or you can do a search by keyword. You will also usually find that it includes the number of users who have bookmarked it. You can import or export your bookmarks, comment them, rate, leave notes, and email them.

Many social bookmarking services have web feeds you can subscribe to and be notified whenever any new bookmarks are saved, shared, or tagged by other users.

Tagging

Most of us are used to the traditional way of organizing our bookmarks & files using folders and subfolders.  Tagging has become very popular system to categorize online bookmarks by using “tags”, which are just keywords or  terms associated with this bookmark.  You may still find a few social bookmarking sites using a system of folders and tags, but not many, so tagging is something you will have to get used to and learn to implement.

Bookmarking sites will rate the tags based on how often they are being used and build a hierarchy based on their popularity or relationship to other tags.  You’ll often see a “tag cloud” or a cluster of words grouped together that will show the more popular tags in a larger font.

Beth Kanter of was able to attend a presentation entitled “Future of Tagging” with Joshua Schachter creator of Delicious.  On her blog, Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, she recants a bit of Joshua’s thinking behind tagging:

“You get more out of the system when the motivation is selfish. For example, you as an individual find a page you want to remember. You might tag it with “read_later,” so those tags work well for you, but not necessarily the social system. It doesn’t describe the content. The tags you use to describe something should be intuitive so you can recall the bookmark. You can assume, however, that someone will tag the item for how the group does it…think of tags as votes. You’re doing it for yourself, but the good of the group. Delicious is about memory first, discovery second.”

As a blog or site owner, you will be very interested in the voting mechanism of social bookmarking because that is where the traffic comes from. If a lot of people like the same piece of content and vote it up, then more people see it. If people vote it down and they don’t like it, then fewer people get to see it. The higher the votes, the more click throughs and more people there will be at your site or the site that was listed.

Summary

The very basic understanding behind social bookmarking is about people submitting a link, a small description, a few tags, and then other people getting to see those things.  The benefit, as a social media user and blog or site owner that wants to share information is that it drives lots and lots of traffic to your site if done correctly.

The way you handle yourself is a big deal in social bookmarking just as it is on social networking sites like Twitter.  Your profile, your habits and your friends all make up just how effective you will be in social bookmarking.  This is what we will go over later this week. For now, just take a look around some of the bookmarking sites and soak in what you just learned.  Check back this week for Part 2 in this series on Social Bookmarking…or better yet, sign up for email updates below and get notified when the new post goes up!

How much experience do you have with social bookmarking?  How have you used sites like Digg, Delicious, or Stumble Upon in your marketing?  Please leave a comment with your answers and feel free to add me to any of the bookmarking sites I am subscribed to using the widget in the right sidebar.  :)

July 7, 2009   17 Comments