The rise in social networks and their power over the information on the Internet has sprung another phenomenon: “Folksonomies”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folksonomy. Folksonomy is a word coined by “Thomas Vander Wal”:http://www.vanderwal.net/about.php, an online pioneer studying information structure and combines the words ‘taxonomy’ with ‘folks’. A simple definition is that folksonomies are classifications defined by people. The implications of folksonomies are much more complex.
In the beginning of folksonomies, collaborative tagging efforts by people were simple. If you posted an entry on your blog about marketing, you would classify it marketing, if you were writing on knitting, you would classify it knitting. However, with the popularity of social software like “del.icio.us”:http://del.icio.us, “Flickr”:http://www.flickr.com and the blog search engine “Technorati”:http://www.technorati.com growing, tagging systems have become much more complex and layered. Now, if you post an entry on your blog about marketing, you might classify it as “marketing, online, emarketing, collaborative” in order to encompass a more defined description of your post.
How does this effect your business blog, then? Online marketing includes the ability to tie into these social networks. What is the sense of posting to a blog that nobody reads? In order to increase traffic, you have to interact effectively with the blogosphere. Tagging is one of the ways to do this.
Effective tagging will increase your chances of being found on Technorati, which records the posts of over 14 million blogs. If you sell shoes, for instance, and someone wants to hear what the blogosphere recommends for running shoes, your blog entries on running shoes, if properly tagged, will show up among the citizen journalists discussing the pros and cons of buying you and your competitors shoes. Without proper tagging, Technorati may not recognize your entries as being about running shoes at all.
Folksonomies are further complicated by the fact that everyone searching has a slightly different internal classification system. Person A is looking for running shoes, but she types in sneakers in her tag search. Person B types in athletic footwear. Person C may type in runningshoes. And the possibilities go on.
“Google”:http://www.google.ca told search marketers years ago that metatagging wasn’t important to their results page, but Google isn’t the only search engine and there are more ways to reach your customer than through SEO. In other words, tagging *does* matter. In fact, it may be more important than ever.
For excellent resources on the complex world of tagging, visit the following:
* “A Consuming Experience: Technorati tags an introduction”:http://consumingexperience.blogspot.com/2005/02/technorati-tags-introduction.html
* “Social Bookmarking Tools: A General Review”:http://www.dlib.org/dlib/april05/hammond/04hammond.html
* “Explaining and Showing Broad and Narrow Folksonomies”:http://www.vanderwal.net/random/entrysel.php?blog=1635
* “Podcast: Folksonomies – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mess”:http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail464.html
* “Folksonomies – Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata”:http://www.adammathes.com/academic/computer-mediated-communication/folksonomies.html
* “Folksonomies – Power to the People”:http://www.iskoi.org/doc/folksonomies.htm