Search Engines, Social media, Viral Marketing

So, what is Social Bookmarking?

There were Google “bots” and then came the bookmarks. Probably, 3-4 years down the line we might have this introduction for Social Bookmarking websites Del.ici.ous, Readit.com etc etc. It will take some time to pick up and can be considered as the hottest trend right now. My question on linkedin on “how many of you use social bookmarks and are the results effective?” has only two respondents 😦

So, what do the social bookmarking tags/sites do? Very simply put, they help you save bookmarks as tags and share it with the community. Sites like del.ici.ous go a step further and show you interesting results. Sites like dig, show you the most popular stories. Consider this, everytime a person uses the bookmark to search information, he has taken one step further away from Google/Yahoo SERPs, indicating a huge traffic potential in times to come. The only difference being, these results of social bookmarks is the collective effort of readers (read humans) who have tagged/indexed the information. They might have researched on Yahoo/Google (and therefore sourced through a bot/algorithm), however the information is filtered and hence richer. Over a period of time, familiarity will pave way for more frequent usage.

Lets go little deep and explore the “semantics”. Social Bookmarking is a term for allowing people to publish, categorise and share their bookmarks. Del.ici.ous uses a non-hierarchical keyword categorisation system, know as folksonomy, where user tag their links with one or more freely chosen keyword. This is like naming method (Taxonomy) but authored by users. Once bookmarks are posted and tagged, the keyword that users give them can be combined and shared in powerful ways. Users can see all the bookmarks on a keyword to learn what others feel is important, and see how many people bookmark a particular item to gauge its popularity.

Stripped down to its core, social bookmarking is a means by which a group can categorise and locate information based on its own evolving taxonomy. In other words, it’s very collaborative and a little unstructured. Users “tag” content and the content is “Bookmarked” for all to see based on those tags. That kind of information categorisation is sometimes referred to as “folksonomy”, a hybrid word referring to regular “Folks” and “Taxonomy”, a method of organisation. The whole process is democratic. Whereas the search engines use top-down approach to sorting and filing data (the program algorithm shows people what it “thinks”), social bookmarking is bottom-up, grassroot system wherein users tell other users what they think and something of consensus usually forms. In true sense it is not the backlinks referral or SEO optimised content, but the popularity by fellow users that determines the ranking. Items favoured by more than one person percolates up in popularity, helping the user to find interesting things to read on subjects.

Social bookmarking sites fill as unique niche by helping organise truly useful information. It’s a bit different from news of the day content covered by sites like Digg, although there is some overlap. People tend to bookmark content they found useful enough to consider revisiting at another time. This could be content thats simple longer than they have time to absorb when first discovered. A person could also subscribe to his bookmark feed using a program like bloglines using RSS link near the bottom of the page.

One limitation of social bookmarks (like del.ici.ous) to date is the privacy control. All bookmarks are visible to everyone else in the system, so this may not be an ideal location to bookmark financial reports of acquisition candidates, the MySpace profiles of prospective employees or other things that may raise an eyebrow. Yahoo has a similar product called MyWeb that does offer the ability to mark bookmarks private, shared with friends, or public, but hasn’t taken off like del.ici.ous. Though Yahoo acquired del.ici.ous last year, but hasn’t done much to integrate.

Social bookmarking will soon evolve beyond its techie tool avatar. Sooner than later, and as more people use it, netizens will realise that it is not just a web based access to bookmark. It is driven more by a form of implied reciprocation where bookmarkers contribute what they found interesting with the understanding that others will the same, leading to a community which is source of good content; the classic “collaborate and grow” netiquette.

Do you use social bookmarking? If you don’t, it is always a good time to start and begin contributing and lend that ‘Human touch” to search results.

Cheers!!

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