Today we’re at BarCamp Vancouver, where I’m facilitating a session on “Tagging for World Domination.” The news that Wink is rolling out version 2.0 of their service is a nice reminder that there are more and more options for using tags as useful blogging fodder: Wink itself would offer a great variant on my tagging trick #1, below.
I’m hoping that lots of other folks will share their tips and tricks on how tagging can help to add value to online content, drive traffic to blogs, or generally build stronger online communities.
Here are some of my basic tips for tagging success:
- Choose a unique tag for your work and/or organization and use it consistently. This tag should be one word, or two words smooshed together, so you can use it on any tag-friendly site.
- Invite other people to tag content with “your” tag so that they’re contributing to your site, too — like we do with Flickr photos on Change Everything.
- Aggregate your tag back onto your site from as many sources as possible (del.icio.us, technorati, furl, flickr, 43things etc).
- If you subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds in your primary newsreader/aggregator, track your crucial tags (your own organization’s unique tag, your del.icio.us “for:” tag) on your personalized Google homepage, and make that your browser’s default home page so you see it often.
- Tags aren’t limited to explicitly taggy services and apps. You can use your tag as a search term in PubSub, for example, or “tag” your iPhoto pix by putting tags into your comments fields.
- Create a “secret” tag for people in your organization to use for stuff you just want to share internally. Tell everyone to track that in whatever aggregator they visit most often.
- Identify a set of tags that together encompass the topics you blog about, and track them in your primary aggregator as a source of blogging inspiration.
Trick 1: Boosting traffic with tags
One of the tricks I’ve been meaning to document is how tracking a tag can help you insinuate your way into a large-scale conversation. Let’s take the tag “tagging” as an example.
Imagine I want people to start visiting — and talking about — this web page. I figure the people who will be interested in this page are people who are interested in tagging.
I go to Technorati and search on the tag “tagging”, which brings me to a page of posts tagged “tagging”. Then I look for a recent post with a lot of inbound links, because I figure it’s getting a lot of traffic.
And the world of tagging freaks being small, the overwhelming winner here is a post by Marshall Kirkpatrick over at TechCrunch. Just inserting that URL into this post is enough to make this show up as a comment since TechCrunch uses TrackBack, but it would be really obnoxious to do that because this blog post isn’t really about Marshall’s story. So I wrote a paragraph that creates a conceptual bridge between his story and this blog post, which is why this blog post begins with a discussion of Wink.
Tada! Marshall’s thousands of readers are now going to come across an intriguing link to a blog post that should interest them, since they’re interested in tagging.
And for all those TechCrunch readers who slogged through this post and are now feeling annoyed, let me point out that this tip is a great way to use the new and improved Wink, too: search on a given tag (like “tagging”) within Wink and you’ll find blog posts that readers are tagging there. Comment on one of those blog posts and you’re linking into a conversation that you know people are reading.
Note that if I were writing about a narrower or less-blogged topic — like hacktivism — I could just search Technorati for blog posts containing the term “hacktivism”, and find a post there that I could use as a conversation hook. But one of the virtues of tags is that they let you accomplish the same thing even with a very commonly used term (like tagging) by letting you zoom in on the blog posts that are really about that thing.
Trick 2: Organizing content with tags
Another nice trick is using inbound automatic categorization of tagged content. Both of the platforms I use to blog have options for tagging inbound content according to its original tags. For WordPress, the FeedWordPress plugin offers the option of tagging inbound content with its original tags (and you can set the additional option of creating any new tags, or limiting tags just to those categories/tags that already exist on your site.) In Drupal, the combo of Aggregator2 and autotaxonomy let you parse incoming content for tags, and apply those tags to the content as it’s republished on your site.
What that means is that you can use your unique tag in conjunction with other tags to organize your content collection into subcategories. For example, we can aggregate content tagged SocialSignal onto our web site, and it will be tagged with whatever additional tags we used on the original site.