What Is Social Bookmarking and Why Do It?

An Intro to the Organization Trend All Information Enthusiasts Should Know

Bookmark
Photo © Achim Sass / Getty Images

Have you ever emailed a friend or family member and sent them a link to a website you thought they might find interesting? If so, you have participated in social bookmarking.

But what is social bookmarking, anyway? After all, it's not like you can take a small piece of cardboard or a sticky note and physically put it on a web page the way you can do with the pages in a real book. And even if you know how to use the bookmarks tool that comes built in with every major web browser, this still isn't "social" bookmarking.

You can think of social bookmarking like this: simply tagging a web page with a web-based tool so you can easily access it later. Instead of saving them to your web browser, you are saving them to the web. And, because your bookmarks are online, you can easily access them anywhere you have an internet connection and share them with friends.

Why Start Social Bookmarking If You Can Just Use Your Browser?

Not only can you save your favorite websites and send them to your friends, but you can also look at what other people have found interesting enough to tag. Most social bookmarking sites allow you to browse through the items based on most popular, recently added, or belonging to a certain category like shopping, technology, politics, blogging, news, sports, etc.

You can even search through what people have bookmarked by typing in what you are looking for in the search tool. In fact, social bookmarking sites are being used as intelligent search engines.

Since social bookmarking tools are access on the web or via a web-based application, this means you can save a new bookmark using one device, access your account on another device and see everything you added or updated from your other device. As long as you're signed into your social bookmarking account, you'll have the most recently updated version of all your bookmarks and other customizable information.

A few popular social bookmarking tools include:

You can check out more popular social bookmarking tools here.

Is Social News the Same as Social Bookmarking?

Websites like Reddit and HackerNews focus on social bookmarking of news-related items such as politics, sports, technology, etc. These websites will often feature breaking headlines and bloggers discussing the current news items.

Social news sites are different from standard social bookmarking sites because they focus on specific articles and blog posts to share with the general public rather than web pages for things other than news (but may also include news) on a more personalized level. Social news sites can be a great source of news and they also offer the ability to participate in the discussion by leaving comments on popular news items, but social bookmarking sites are primarily used for building a personalized collection of web pages to come back to at a later time.

How Can I Benefit From Social Bookmarking?

Social bookmarking and social news allow you to specifically target what you want to see. Instead of going into a search engine, typing something into the search field and then searching for that needle in a haystack, you can quickly narrow down the items to what you are looking for.

Because many social bookmarking sites display recently added lists and popular links, you can both keep up with what's current and see relevant information. For example, let's say you are interested in learning more about social shopping. You might search for social shopping on one of these sites and come up with two articles: one with a hundred votes and one with two votes.

It's pretty easy to tell that the article with a hundred votes might be your best choice. And this is a lot easier than typing "social shopping" into a search engine and seeing page after page after page of links that may or may not be useful based on what you're looking for.

So, what started out as a way to send bookmarks to friends has really grown into social search engines. You no longer need to page through thousands of results to find something that real humans would recommend enough to save for themselves and share with others. Now, you can simply go to a social bookmarking site, choose the category or tag that matches your interest, and find the most popular websites.

Next recommended article: 10 Popular Social Media Posting Trends

Updated by: Elise Moreau

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