The P’s and Q’s of Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking, social networking, social submission: these terms are on the lips of anyone looking to build a community—and as a result, their business—online. The number of sites is growing every day as various niche sites arise, and their various uses are worth looking into. Whether you want to bookmark your favorite sites; see what others marketing-minded folk are viewing; add your own site to the mix; or any combination of the three, these sites are extremely cost-effective ways to showcase your prowess of your company. The following are some of the sites we feel are the most promising:

Del.icio.us: This bookmarking site allows its users to save all their bookmarks online. It also allows them to share them with others in the community as well as see what others are bookmarking. Del.icio.us will recommend new sites users might like, as well as the most popular. Users apply tags to the sites, which help when trying to find, share or categorize. It’s great for work-related info because you can access the sites from anywhere using your login info, and there is an ability to set some as private (i.e. client-related sites).

StumbleUpon: Users choose their interests (cooking, business, advertising, etc.) from a list, install the StumbleUpon toolbar and then a click of the “stumble” button takes them to a site they might like. Users also click a button to say whether or not they like the site, and StumbleUpon keeps track of the sites you think are worth seeing again.
Don’t use this site for bookmarking reasons, as organizing info can be better served elsewhere. Take advantage of the networking aspect—it comes into play because others can access your favorite sites by viewing your profile. Add sites you come across, tag them appropriately and others will see those as well—so make your presence known on the site and others will be more inclined to check out your faves.

Digg: One hundred percent of the news articles, videos, images, etc. on Digg are submitted by the community. Once something is submitted, other people see it and digg what they like best. If your submission receives enough diggs, it is promoted to the home page of its category—or even the front page.

Users can customize their home page and see only stories they would be interested in. However, there is no bookmarking capability to organize info, and no way to keep information private. You do not add tags; the site keeps track of your history and recent history, which is public record. This is another site that’s great for shameless self promotion.

Reddit: Much like Digg, this site aims to place what’s up and coming in front if its subscribers. Basically, users customize what they’re interested in. According to the site, those votes “train a filter,” so users only see things they might like. (You determine what shows on your front page by saying if things are “hot” or “cold.”) Also, Reddit has no advertising, which some people prefer.

Yahoo Buzz: The site, much like its name suggests, gets popular topics from searches Yahoo searches. Then it displays the most popular stories within those topics based on activities like voting (either “buzz up” or “buzz down”) and the number of stories e-mailed to friends. People can then comment on those stories, and the most “buzzed up” stories might end up on Yahoo’s home page.

According to the Yahoo Buzz FAQs, it’s different from StumbleUpon, reddit, etc. because the rankings “also take into account things like trends in search queries on Yahoo Search, the number of comments left on Buzz, and the number of times that content is shared with friends over e-mail from Buzz.”

Yes, the options can be overwhelming, but the good news is, there is no harm in choosing too many. The majority of these sites have the same purpose: to expose you to new material, which you then get to deem worthy (or not) of your attention. And you get to add to that new info, which means increasing your viewing audience exponentially. Add new content on a weekly basis (at least), and make sure it is nowhere near run of the mill—posted information that is seen as “cold” or not “dug” fades quickly. In a perfect world everyone would love your company info, but patience is key—as is participation. Making a name for yourself and establishing a good (i.e. not pushy or ego driven) reputation are two of the first steps. From there, it’s important to stay involved.

Network by checking out other’s favorites, and offer relevant comments whenever applicable. And be sure to check out submission tools such as Social Poster and Post Toaster, which allow you to upload your material to many sites at once. The odds of your material reigning supreme on any given site might be low, but just like mom always said, you never know unless you try—so get out there and explore.

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