At work we recently instituted social bookmarking and networking at the bottom of our items. Apparently our users – while smart, resourceful, motivated and on a web 2.0 site regularly – were in many cases unaware of the phenomenon. While the values of Reddit and Digg are well known – though in the case of Digg not very useful in my opinion based upon recent stories of gaming, mass exodus (over the HD-DVD key issue) and the simple fact that similar stories always seem to populate the front page – social bookmarking seems to be less widely known, used and understood.
It has many uses and benefits that are worth looking into. I will focus on my personal choice del.icio.us – however other sites such as blinklist and ma.gnolia do almost exactly the same thing (and in some cases better from what I understand).
First, and most important to me, they serve as a central hub for all your bookmarks. Once you become a regular web user and get past the 20 or so range for bookmarks it becomes cumbersome to sync your home, work, laptop, etc. bookmarks. With del.icio.us you can post them in one place and access them from any computer anywhere. And using their tag feature you can sort your bookmarks easily so that you, your friends and even complete strangers can find them. You can add notes – which I need to do more of – to remind yourself why you bookmarked the site. For anyone that is into tech news, web design or blogging having this resource is a must.
Second, they’ve become a social search engine. I saw an interesting article about the new search engine that’s better that Google. Basically, it’s about using tags on del.icio.us to find interesting and relevant sites. There are some issues – recently I’ve noticed spam trickling in – but overall it’s a great way to find cool new sites and articles. Add the fact that you can get feeds from it – giving you SEO or CSS content daily right to your RSS reader/site of choice – and it’s almost a no-brainer. Will it ever replace Google? Probably not. But it’s an awesome substitute especially for cutting edge and web related topics.
Third, they allow you to increase your audience if you’re a blogger or webmaster. Basically, by bookmarking your own pages you are indexing your site the way you want it to be. The loss is so is everyone else, however, for a new or smaller audience blog/site it’s a great way to expand your audience and pick up potential regular visitors. It’s something I’ve always meant to do with my site but never gotten around to. If you use WordPress, your tags naturally flow with the tags on del.icio.us – so someone should (or likely already has) invent a plug-in to do this automatically.
Finally, they allow you to share your bookmarks. You can build friends on del.icio.us (they call it your network) and when you tag something one of the tags will be “for:<username>.” So if find that awesome new CSS site and want to share it with your designer friend – you can. You can even give links to people not in your network (as a reader of my blog did in the past).
You can also share your bookmarks through tag and link rolls. They also have released an API I believe to be used in mash-ups.
Random Tidbit: I found an article awhile back about 37 Steps to Perfect Markup. Pretty interesting.