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Individual and group sharing of bookmarks or cool sites is not a new thing, and has been around as long as the Web has....


Back then, I remember my excitement when more than a couple new Web sites launched. Ahhh, back in the day....
But with all the talk of Web 2.0 and "user generated content," one of the more remarkable aspects of the Web that continues to inspire me is the need for people to "share" with each other. Early Web browsers all offered the ability to bookmark, and they still do. But a new wave of tools are emerging that enable and encourage sharing everything from photos to music to the most essential and simpleist thing of all, a link.
Share a link. The very essence of the Web. Who needs Google's algorithm when there are almost 100 social bookmarking services that will help me find all the cool sites I'll ever need based on what other people like and think I might like, etc.?
You could have seen it coming. Amazon's recommendation engine was an early example ("if you like this then you might also like this...), and Alexa has their "people who visited this site also visited..." feature. But these tools are math driven, not people driven. They fail in funny ways. Amazon thinks I should want a pair of Crocs just because I bought the movie Chocolat. I have no idea why.
So today's version of the recommendation engine is the user himself. Using free tools like digg, del.icio.us, shout, furl and spurl, people from kids to grandma share lists of great sites with hundreds of thousands of other people.
And the engines aren't blind. They want in on it as well. Googlebase and MyYahoo are two obvious examples.
Sadly, the link spammers also want in. How long before that cool site recommendation comes from a brand manager? It's already happening.
What's the take-away for Web marketers?
Social bookmarking and tagging are part of the power to the people movement that the Web makes possible. You have the opportunity to identify and interact with key influencers in more places and in more ways than ever. The techniques you use to interact properly in the social sharing environments will vary, but the time spent will be well worth it.
Eric Ward
http://www.ericward.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Eric Ward

Eric founded the Web's very first online publicity and linking services, NetPOST and URLwire, in 1994. Eric's expertise is in helping companies generate links, publicity and buzz for their Web content. A hands-on practitioner, Eric also offers training and seminars that teach companies how to do it in-house. His client list is a who's who of online brands, from Amazon.com to PBS.org.

Eric has written for for ClickZ and Ad Age, and he won the 1995 Tenagra Award For Internet Marketing Excellence. In 1997, he was named one of the Web's 100 most influential people by Websight magazine. A well-known speaker at the major industry trade shows, Eric will soon publish The Ward Report, a monthly "how-to" newsletter on the art of link building and publicity for Web content, with commentary on the newest trends and practices.

A native of northern New Jersey, Eric has lived in Knoxville, Tennessee since graduating from the University of TN. Eric's wife Melissa and toddler Noah say "bye daddy geek" every day when he leaves for work.

Eric can be reached at eric@ericward.com