Tagging and social bookmarking are topics that are frankly fairly new to me. I have heard a lot about this new phenomenon, but admittedly have spent relatively little time engaged in developing and executing strategies around these Web 2.0 technologies. Given my lack of knowledge I started experimenting. Here’s what I have found out so far.
Tagging is a simple as providing keywords for the web page content you’ve provided. If you look at this top of this blog post, I’ve provided a number of tags including “2.0”, “strategy” and others. This form of tagging helps people immediately understand the nature of your blog post or other type of web page. New content management systems (CMSs) can aggregate the tags and provide a visual representation to the taxonomy called a tag cloud. Those keywords that are used more are visually represented as larger than keywords that are less used. In this way, viewers can easily find their way to the most popular topics.
Social bookmarking allows users to hold their bookmarks of pages that you would have traditionally stored in your web browser and put them online for yourself and others. Social bookmarking sites can show you who else has bookmarked that web page and what tags they provided to the page. Popular pages and popular tags are visually represented on the social bookmarking home page allowing users to readily view popular content. The predominant social bookmarking site is del.icio.us (http://www.delicious.com).
Social news sites use the power of tagging and social bookmarking to provide a news site. Rather than relying on reporters and editors, anyone can post news. News articles are tagged and voted upon. The most popular articles are listed on the social news site homepage. Without the influence of editorial influence, the wisdom of the network promotes the most relevant news for members of the community. Is such a site better than mainstream news outlet with professional reporters and editors? Not necessarily, but such sites can give you a broader range of perspectives and potentially allow your organization a platform for its latest news. One of the most popular social news sites is digg. (http://www.digg.com)
As I continue this 2.0 journey with you, there are some early lesson I've learned in terms of building effective strategies for using these tools to further communications capabilities:
- Maximize the value of the time your organization uses to develop newsletter and other types of content. Rather than just posting to your website or sending a newsletter out via email or snail mail, have organization staff and volunteers set up social bookmarking and news accounts. They can then bookmark and submit newsletter articles.
- When thinking about web content, give serious thought as to how people will find their way to your content on your site. Creating consistent tags will help people find the information they need.
- Experiment. There's still a lot we don't know, especially to what degree social bookmarking can be useful in raising dollars, recruiting volunteers, and engaging clients. Experiment with different sites, different tags, and different types of content.