What is social bookmarking?
Social bookmarking is favourites for the 21st century. It’s a useful way of saving information you find on the web in a place you can access from anywhere and in a format that encourages sharing.
Favourites were a really handy tool when we first started to use the internet. Every time you came across a web nugget you could add it to your favourites for easy access the next time you wanted it.
The problem with favourites though is that it assumes a very static use of the web; one person on the same computer every day.
Now we’re more familiar with using the web on the move; on our phone, on a tablet, on a laptop, in a café, hot-desking in someone’s office… but probably not the computer you were using yesterday.
This makes the idea of favourites redundant. What we really want it to be able to access our favourite sites or useful resources from any device and at any time. That’s social bookmarking.
How can social bookmarking be of use to me and my charity?
- Information you need at the touch of a button – As long as you are connected to the internet then you can access your links. From any device at any time.
- Find what you need quickly and easily – By using tags to describe the links you save, even if you can’t remember exactly what the list was called, you can retrieve it quickly.
- Share useful information easily with others – Because you’re saving your links online it makes it a lot easier to share them with others. There are even ways to automate this process, so if you save links that would be particularly useful for your trustees to see it can be sent straight to them. I look at this at the end of the post.
- Create a library of online information for your organisation or cause – You could use social bookmarking as a way to signpost your service users to relevant information online, use tags to categorise the links.
If you’re going to do your job well then you need to be able to access the right information quickly, and that’s exactly what social bookmarking is perfect for.
How do I get started?
- You’ll need an account with a social networking site. I use Delicious, just because it was one of very few when I first started but there are others out there.
- (I’m going to focus on Delicious as that’s what I use) To make it really easy to use, add an Add to Delicious button to your internet browser. This will make it easy to save links with one click.
- Add link – You don’t have to use the button, you can just go to the Delicious site, log in and then add a link from there.
- Once you’ve added the link you’ll be able to put in more detail.
- Link title: This will fill in automatically based on how the web page is set up but you can edit it to make it easier to refer to next time.
- Your comment: This is your place for making any notes about the link that will help you in the future; where you heard about it, why you think it will be useful etc.
- Tags: These are keywords that you can use to describe your link. Once you’ve used a tag once it will be suggested when saving other links. You’ll be able to see a list of all your links to find others tagged with the same keywords. Make sure that your tags are descriptive so they’ll mean something in a month or years time. If you were saving a link to the match report of Liverpool v Manchester Utd you might use the tags; Liverpool, ManU, result, 2012/2013, home. It’s worth checking if the site you’re using allows spaces in tags, Delicious does.
- Public/ private: It’s up to you whether your links are public or private. To get the most from the social side of a tool like this you should aim for having most of them as public but if you are saving information about a surprise birthday present or researching a medical condition, for example, it’s easy to make them private.
- Tag bundles – As well as using tags you can create a bundle to group together sets of links. You might want to do this for the key areas of your work, or one of for each issue you deal with.
- Share – The great thing about social bookmarking is the social side. If other people you know are using Delicous (for example) then you can include a tag for:louisebrown to send it to them.
- Discover – The Discover Delicious page shows what popular links people are saving right now, you can even search to see if other people are using the same tags as you. This can bring up information you didn’t even know existed.
Ways to link your social bookmarking site to other online tools:
- Twitter – If you use Twitter then you can use a tool like Packrati.us to save your tweets automatically to social bookmarking sites. It’s up to you how you set this up, it could be all links you tweet, all that you favourite or when you use a specific hashtag.
- IFTTT – You can set up IFTTT alerts that will carry out actions such as sending a text, an email, adding to a Google doc, sending a tweet… whatever you want when you save a bookmark with a particular tag. I wrote about how I though this could help to take the pain out of reporting to trustees.
- Pinterest – You could use Pinterest as your main tool for bookmarking, in a very visual way. The only constraint is that your online resources will need to contain an image for you to save it to Pinterest.
- Website – If you are using WordPress for your website then there are Delicious plugins that allow you to easily show your bookmarks. There are also more techie things you can do with the Delicious API.
Do you use social bookmarking in your work? Are there any other tips you can add?
Other things I’ve written about social bookmarking:
- Social media taking the pain out of reporting to trustees (2012)
- Creating link resources using Delicious stacks (2012) – unfortunately you can’t create stacks any more, you can still have tag bundles.
- Sifting the online wheat from the chaff (2012)
- Beginners guide to social bookmarking (2007)
- del.icio.us (2007) – this was the old name before Delicious removed all the dots