Social Bookmarking. Emphasis on the social.

“The web is vast. Far too vast for anyone to have a hope of negotiating by themselves.” 
I have been in college for almost four years. I have spent hours and hours doing research for projects on everything from genetically modified food to heteronormativity in children’s literature. My research was mainly conducted in the school and public library, by searching through the online catalogue to locate books on the shelves. I also took advantage of the online databases to search articles I could save to my computer and print if needed. And of course I often sought information on the web, searching google results and looking up news articles on sites like the New York Times.

But what was I to do, when I had done all possible searching, and still couldn’t quite find exactly what I wanted? In some of my more specific research projects, like doing a rhetorical analysis on anti-war song lyrics, I felt things would be a lot easier if I had someone to talk to about the topic – someone else who was searching for the same information. Then, maybe we could share research and each of us would find things that may have been unattainable had we not been working together.

Well, the opportunity to connect with people who are searching for similar topics as you, interested in the same specialty areas as you, and the capability to share articles and research with these people is a reality. A reality that is actually quite easy to attain. The answer: social bookmarking.

“Social bookmarking brings to the equation something that search engines can’t compete with – the human touch. Just as the internet has millions of pages, so it also has millions of users, and even if a fraction of those users share the sites they’ve found interesting, useful or just plain bizarre with each other, there is suddenly a vast resource for anyone searching the web to tap into” - Social Bookmarking Services And Tools: The Wisdom Of Crowds That Organizes The Web

I think this is very true. User generated content allows us to share information in a helpful and timely way. The ability to collaborate online with others in your field, allows you to discover and explore websites, articles, and research you may not have found otherwise. It makes research and information seeking a social process.

I have chosen to explore del.icio.us. In just a matter of seconds I can now follow people who share my similar interests. I can see what articles they have come across, and discover new research they have found.

Aside from personal or academic use, social bookmarking has some pretty impressive implications in the Public Relations field.

Press releases have certainly evolved with the changing way we share information. Many PR and Social Media professionals suggest that social bookmarking sites are important in the new format of press releases, often referred to as Social Media Press Releases.

When sending a Social Media Press Release (SMPR), it is recommended that a del.icio.us account be set up for each new release. The del.icio.us account would include links to other company sites, executive bios, or fact sheets, etc... According to PR-Sqaured, the del.icios.us site must be "purpose-built" to be most effective. The site should not only contain links, but tags and comments as well.

What a change from the print release “for more information contact Jane Doe 212 222 3333”

I can’t imagine making a press release any more efficient. Sending a SMPR with a link to a del.icio.us page, has many benefits. I assume the company sending out the release would update the account regularly to reflect any changes occurring in the business or industry. So, if someone received a SMPR but didn’t have time to get to the story until two or three weeks later, they could access the most up-to-date information about what is going on by simply checking the del.icio.us account. If a reporter received a release that she did not quite consdier relevant to her focus that week, perhaps she could find other relevant company news by exploring the del.icio.us account - thus the company still gets coverage.

Inviting recipients of the SMPR to click on links from the del.icio.us account also benefits the company sending the release – this is a great way to drive traffic to their site(s).

After getting familiar with new tools and exploring the internet in a different way, I'm left with a familiar thought "what will they think of next?"

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