There’s a large group of Web sites out there that are using the power of social media to keeps their pages constantly updated and more importantly, engaging and entertaining. The technical term for it is “social bookmarking” and it all started with Delicious.com about six years ago, and has since led to other popular sites like Digg.com, Reddit.com, StumbleUpon.com and Propeller.com
The way it works is simple: Members of these sites post links to stories they find to be of interest, with links coming from traditional media sources, including newspapers and magazines, as well as nontraditional sources, too, like blogs and social networking sites. Once a story is posted, other members can then comment on it, share it with friends, or bookmark it to read later on. Providing information to an audience this way makes it not as much news that’s simply there to be read; rather, it becomes more of a conversation piece among like-minded individuals, regardless of age, race or geographical location.
The social bookmarking sites then measure everything from member participation and popularity votes to page views and comments that news stories receive after they’ve been posted. Ultimately, an index number is determined, whether it be the number of “Diggs” a story gets on Digg.com or the “Propeller Popularity Index” on Propeller.com, and the top-scoring stories make it on to the front page of the site. This means that these Web sites are constantly being updated based solely on social media criteria, and that only the most popular and interesting information is made most prominent. And while the big new stories of the moment will certainly make their way on to many of these sites, other stories that may otherwise go unreported show up here too, and have an equal shot at getting the same amount of coverage as any other big story out there thanks to this unique way of sharing information.
So how do you share information on a web site? Today, many of these social bookmarking sites have incorporated a shortcut tool that allows readers the ability to easily share information they find interesting elsewhere on the Web. A good example of this is the “Share” button on the A&W blog site you’re on right now. If you scan your mouse icon over the “Share” button (under the title of this blog), you’ll notice that a small window appears that has within it icons of other web sites you may belong to as well. By clicking on any one of these icons, you’re taken to that Web site where you can then share a link back to this blog—or any other piece of information you find interesting. This capability is available on a lot of news web sites today, and it allows for messages, stories, and ideas to “go viral” much faster than ever before.
Social Bookmarking also acts as a replacement to your Web browser’s bookmarks menu. If you bookmark something at work, you can also access it at home. All the bookmarks can be categorized by tags, making it easy to locate them. If you find that another user shares similar interests as you, you can then subscribe to their bookmarks and get updates every time he or she finds a new website or article. A site that promotes other bookmarking Web sites really well would be StumbleUpon.com
These sites are all certainly worth checking out; if only for the experience of going to a site that’s constantly updated via social media tools (see a previous A&W blog on utilizing social media here). The stories there are easy to navigate through and if you’re interested in joining, most social bookmarking sites are free.