Thursday, October 28, 2010

Social Bookmarking for Research

Last year, I read an article about social bookmarking in PRSA's Tactics. At the time, I was unfamiliar with sites such as Delicious, which allow users to store web pages and electronic files of interest. Once you register for a free Delicious account, you're given the option of downloading a toolbar, which thus allows you to bookmark a web page with a single button click.

As you can probably tell by my last sentence, I've since gone ahead and started using Delicious, and it's been a great benefit. You can not only bookmark sites with one click, but you can also organize them using a Tags field. Delicious will save your tag entries, so once you've entered a tag once--such as blogging, or social media, or November elections--bookmarking future sites with the same tags becomes much easier. Just type the first few letters of your tag in the relevant field and Delicious will automatically "guess" using your personal history of tags and populate the field with the full name.

On your personal Delicious page, your column of tags appears on the right side of the screen, allowing you to review all categories under which you've saved pages (as well as the number of pages linked to each tag).

This is, first of all, an easier and more user-friendly way of storing websites than Internet Explorer's Favorites service. Fewer button clicks are involved, the storage system is much more organized, and the layout of stored websites and tags is much more readable. Finally, the social aspect of bookmarking means research with colleagues within an organization or an industry can benefit from multiple users; you can share your tags and stored sites with other Delicious users.

Most mornings, when I go to work, the first thing I do is open Google Reader to scan marketing and PR blogs for posts of interest in various categories. I don't read most of them right then, unless they are particularly relevant to what I am doing that day, that week or maybe that month. But some may be relevant to projects I know are coming but which I haven't thought about yet. Opening posts with such content and clicking Delicious' tag button at the top of the screen allows me to do an instant save under clearly defined tags--"website design", "market research", etc.--so I can save the posts as informational resources when planning those projects.

Working as marketing director at Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman, CPAs in Bethesda, MD, I am happy to share my links with other marketing team colleagues at the firm, or with non-competing marketing colleagues in industry groups such as the Association of Accounting Marketing or CPAmerica International.

I did issue one public request to share bookmarks to colleagues in an industry group, and got no takers. I don't believe sites such as Delicious have the same notoriety as social media tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. But I believe social bookmarking presents an excellent opportunity to not only store resources for research projects but also to share your results with others who can benefit (and who can provide you with similar resources as well.)

By the way, I am not affiliated nor have I ever been affiliated with anyone with a stake in the success of Delicious.

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