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Tagging content catching on : worth following

April 13, 2005

Cannot say I fully understand the concept and am not doing yet, but have seen the buzz around the net about categorizing content by ‘tagging’ or ‘folksonomies’ (short for folks and taxonomy). Steve Rubel has a nice post today explaining the concept of tagging and it’s potential impact on marketing.

Steve Rubel has described it as millions of individuals unknowingly working togther to create a new Dewey Decimal System for the internet. As he says “Tagging is powerful because consumers are creating an organizational structure for online content. Folksonomies not only enable people to file away content under tags, but more importantly also share it with others by filing it under a global taxonomy that they created.”

How does tagging work? Per Steve:

Using sites such as – a bookmark sharing site – and Flickr – a photo sharing site – consumers are collaboratively categorizing online content under certain keywords, or tags. For example, an individual can post photographs of their iPod on Flickr and file it under the tag ‘iPod.’ These images are now not only visible under the individual user’s iPod tag but also under the broader community iPod tag that displays all images consumers are generating and filing under the keyword. As of this writing, Flickr has more than 3,500 photos that are labeled ‘iPod.’

Tagging is catching on because it is a natural complement to search. Type the word ‘blogs’ into Google and it can’t tell if you are searching for information about how to launch a blog, how to read blogs, et cetera. But using you can bookmark this page or subscribe to its RSS feed. Then, everyday you will find the latest interesting links consumers are finding and sharing about blog marketing. Now imagine you run a blog marketing consultancy and you want to advertise to users who follow these tags. This is what’s we’ll see this year as tagvertising takes hold.

Steve mentions a few ways in which tagging will create new opportunities for marketers.

  • Although tags are far from perfect (they generate a lot of false/positives), marketers should nevertheless be using them to keep your finger on the pulse of the American public. Start subscribing to RSS feeds to monitor how consumers are tagging information related to your product, service, company or space. These are living focus groups that are available for free, 24/7.
  • Folksonomy sites can be also be carefully used to unleash viral marketing campaigns – with a caveat. Marketers should be transparent in who they are, why they are posting the link/photos and avoid spamming the services
  • As tagging grows and the search engines begin adding this feature to their sites, Google and Overture will allow advertisers to buy keywords across certain tags.

  • Last but not least, one or more entrepreneurs will launch a tagvertising network that facilitates a keyword buy across all sites that use folksonomies.

Scary, but not only is Rubel a more prolific blogger than I, but he looks to be a tad smarter.

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