Everything (basic) you’d like to know about social bookmarking, but were afraid to ask

I’ve used some of the major social bookmarking applications out in the world wide web over the past couple of years and each one is pretty different, but has its own use nevertheless. If you’d like to know about what social bookmarking is, here’s how Wikipedia defines it:

is a method for Internet users to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet with the help of metadata.

So think of it as a combination of taking your Internet browser bookmarks and throwing them online for public consumption and collaboration. That’s what social bookmarking is all about. It shows some value to both the individual and the public who peruse the various social sites.

You don’t have to use them all, but there are several large name that you should be aware of and some information to help you understand why they have become so popular and important in marketing. Who are some of these key players? Digg, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, and Ma.gnolia.

What’s the appeal of social bookmarking?
It’s the ability to crowdsource and to additionally promote your own information. Imagine that you’re trying to research the trends on a particular industry and can’t find it on any major market research site. I bet the next step would be to jump onto a search engine like Google or Yahoo and see if you can find it, right? Well why not have the public do the work for you? The beauty of “tagging” is not only limited to search engines. If you go on a bookmarking site like Digg or Delicious, type in a specific “tag” you think someone would have used for that topic, and all corresponding blog posts will appear. You could also use their search engines to find other content not through use of tags so there’s some scalability in finding data.

But the appeal should not be limited to finding content, but rather sharing as well. So if you have a press release, website, newsletter, or anything else that you think would benefit your brand/product, then bookmark it for people to see and then in turn, share with their friends and network. Rather than sending out a newsletter to the media or to your brand evangelists, add bookmarking to your repertoire and get the news out to a larger audience in addition to using your other means of communication. The more people that view it, the greater chance you’ll have of seeing that item marked as a favorite for them, which raises it’s visibility to the global community.

Is it hard to start bookmarking?
No. Just create an account and then start submitting whatever you think you find relevant. Don’t worry about whether or not someone else has submitted that same page or link. It’s not a race to see who bookmarks something first. The more people bookmark something, the higher its visibility and notoriety.

What’s a “Digg”?
If you “digg” something, it’s just another way of saying you like what that blog post or website said so you want to add your voice to the voting. “Digging” something is only exclusive to Digg (of course) and has been a pretty effective tool to help people find helpful and probably entertaining sites to pass the time.

Are there any differences between sites like Digg, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, and Ma.gnolia?
There’s some feature differences between all major share sites, but the fundamental properties seem to be the same. It’s bookmarking and sharing. Digg has the exclusive on “voting” and you can help obtain more visibility that way. Del.icio.us is like taking your Internet browser bookmarks and sharing it with everyone online. StumbleUpon is pretty much the same.

Digg seems to be the biggest bookmark site online today. In a recent Compete.com review, it shows that nearly 27.7 million people have visited the site versus the 1.5 million for Del.icio.us and 2.69 million for StumbleUpon.

What is the point of having high visibility on a social bookmarking site?
Where do you typically get your aggregate news? Do you go to CNN and then MSNBC and possibly to FOX for your information? That’s mainstream media! You want to hear from conservatives, liberals, religious right, pundits, tech geeks, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and Joe the Plumber? Then go onto social bookmarking sites and type in a trend or topic. Guaranteed you will come up with some sites you probably would never have come across.

I’m not seeing any marketability in bookmarking.
Imagine being able to simply share your information with a larger audience. That’s your ROI right there. Everything in marketing has to do with some sort of return on investment, but does it need to be the same result for all programs? Email and website marketing typically has some sort of conversion to sales or high traffic, but with bookmarking (and most social media applications), it’s all about beign viral. Sharing is definitely caring. The more you share, the more people will continue to bookmark.

Think about it this way at the very least…what’s it going to hurt you to bookmark any of your content, articles, or stories written about you online that you’ve come across? It’s just going to give you more exposure to people you would never have thought about reaching out to.

But again, bookmarking is not about simple input of information. You can extract much more in return. If you want to attract some bloggers or see which sites have been actively talking about a particular subject, then go search on sites like Del.icio.us or Digg or StumbleUpon and see what results come up. Then you can review their information, content, and fully vet them and maybe start your own blogger relation or brand ambassador program.

What’s Next?
The next thing for you to do is simply create an account on any of the sites and make your own mark and bookmark whatever you find interesting. This is only a basic review on social bookmarks and the best way to learn is to try it yourself.

I hope you find what you’re looking for. And if it’s not too much trouble, could you digg this post for me? Thanks.