Today’s guest post is by Brian Link, CEO of Toobla, a social bookmarking startup based in Columbus, Ohio.
Many people are using Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit to share funny videos, obscure technology or their favorite geeky sites.
But social bookmarking also has a more practical side — you can use them every day for productive business value. Here are some of my favorite ways to use social bookmarking for business.
Whether you’re researching a scientific topic, collaborating on a project or evaluating the competition, you’re undoubtedly trolling search engines when you could be leveraging your social network and cutting through the clutter.
Digg has an astronomically large number of users submitting the best content on the Web, which creates a great human-driven filter. If you follow people that Digg content you like, you will discover great content you’d never have seen otherwise. Monitoring your friends’ activity is a great place to start.
My username on Digg is blink21. Substitute your name into this URL: http://digg.com/users/blink21/friends/diggs to see your friends’ activity. For more interesting results, be diligent about Digging things you’re into, then visit the recommendation engine frequently. It will give you great results from inferring all kinds of things about your Digging behavior and matching you up with content bookmarked by similar users.
You can also use Delicious for business by tagging and discovering new content. If you’re interested in social media statistics, searching and filtering by tags will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
My company, Toobla, is a new player in the bookmarking space. Its service is less about discovery and more about organization, collaboration and sharing.
We purport that people aren’t using bookmarking to its fullest extent because they are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of content they run across. They have bookmarked information in different browsers and trapped it inside various Web 2.0 sites. Toobla collects all your favorites and bookmarks automatically into one central library and make it visually easy to browse and share.
What’s so powerful about sharing collections of content in a business setting? Here are examples we expect will become commonplace in business bookmarking in the near future, based on what our users are doing:
- Interactive portfolios. Users are now creating live streams of their work products and building interactive portfolios as press kits. Think of it as a living, demonstrable resume. For example, a popular blogger can provide browsable copies of his or her eBooks, public speaking videos, links to books on Amazon, links to the blogs’ best content and professional headshots all in one folder.He or she can then share the folder with prospective clients with one link. Programmers, technologists and designers create folders on Toobla to highlight their accomplishments: Web sites, widgets or iPhone applications they’ve built, T-shirts they’ve designed, videos they’ve produced, articles they’ve written, etc.
- Living documents repository. Toobla users are creating folders of key content that they’d like to become required reading for new employees; a training video, an industry trade journal article, or a popular slideshare presentation. That collection of documents may change over time, but the link they share with new employees remains the same. Collecting key documents or pages from a company’s intranet may also help for reasons beyond new employee orientation.
- Product promotion. Small-business owners are creating visual collections of content for the ease of promoting their products. Small jewelry artisans such as Manda Panda Creations (aka my wife) who compete on hand-crafted goods e-Commerce sites are looking for ways to stand out and make it easier for people to discover their products. By creating a Toobla folder with links to their products they have one portable container they can embed on their blog as an interactive widget that allows a customer to visually browse their “catalog” without writing any code or using too much space on their site. It’s also easier to create a container of links to current “specials” and tweet out messages with a link to today’s deal to their fan base on Twitter.
- Crowdsourcing. For a team trying to build a complete collection of something, whether it is a list of competitors’ Web sites or sources for content on a particular topic, a Toobla folder can be shared across any network or social site encouraging other users to contribute and add items to the folder. Sites like Drop.io already make this possible over private networks. Toobla enables this publicly and creates the ability to harness the collective intelligence of peers across an industry for a common purpose.
- Interactive mash-ups. Toobla provides one other interesting feature that has great implications for business. Each folder’s content can be viewed in a custom mash-up “channel view” where the user defines how content is arranged, layered and resized. A user might take a webcam widget, a PowerPoint document, a Meebo chat widget and a company image and arrange them into four quadrants on the same Toobla channel. In doing so, they’re effectively creating their own drag and drop WebEx application they can deploy to their blog or other social networking sites to produce their own live interactive podcast.
Social bookmarking is evolving, but one theme is constant: The human element leveraged across large crowds enables new ways for businesses to discover and collaborate.
How are you using social bookmarking for business? Please share them in the comments below!
Image credit, kertlis, via iStock