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The final installment of TechSoup's Social Media Mondays tweetchat series, an interactive companion to its Nonprofit
Social Media 101 wiki, covered the topic of tagging. Tagging, a feature
found across many social media channels, is used to help surface content during
searches. While it is a feature of many social sharing sites, often times those
very sites do not provide beginner-friendly instructions on how to use
To understand why tagging is found on so many social sharing
sites it helps to understand why tags exist in the first place. The use of tags has become common
practice to manage the flow of information available on the Internet. Adding
tags to content, whether blog post; video; photo; and so on, helps content creators
organize content and, more importantly, helps your intended audience find it on
the Internet. Tags can also be used to find resources such as photos, slide
presentations, and articles to reference for use on your site.
Whether you or not you understand how to use tags, chances
are you have come across them if you have ever used blogs, YouTube, Flickr,
Twitter, or bookmarking sites such as Delicious. While each of these channels
has their own mechanisms and conventions for using tags the primary function of
those tags remains the same - organizing content. Twitter, however, is
distinctive in that it reserves its own name for its tagging system; "hashtags." (which you'll recognize on Twitter by the use of the hash or # symbol prior to the tag).
photos, video, and bookmarks can benefit from the use of many tags when they are
uploaded. Twitter, again, distinguishes itself, however, by favoring a "less is
more"and approach to tagging. It is an accepted convention on Twitter that too many
hashtags is unhelpful and, in fact, makes a tweet look too busy and difficult
to read. Use tags to not only find content but to identify individuals or
organizations who are creating or sharing useful information and, in the case of
Twitter, to engage in actual real time conversations or tweetchats.
Individuals who are new to tagging might find themselves
asking what tags are best to use for their content. For starters, it is worth
considering what types of words might be used to describe your content. A
helpful question to ask is, "who is this content intended for?" Understanding
who your intended audience is and what terms they might use to seek out your
content will help you narrow down on the most appropriate tags to use.
are just beginning to use tags, it is often helpful to explore and use tags on
broad topics such as "nonprofit," "art," and so on, to reach out to a broad audience
if you are not familiar with more specific tags for your content. As the article Thirteen
Tips for Effective Tagging suggests, "be a lemming" and follow what others
are doing which can also help you discover more specialized, niche tags. Consider
using a social media dashboard, like HootSuite, to follow Twitter hashtags to
understand how they are used and who is using them or have those tagged tweets
sent to you with Twilert.
One tagging tool that is overlooked as a nonprofit resource
is social bookmarks. Social bookmarks are used to listen, track news, follow a
topic, and receive updates. Social bookmarking sites include well-known sites
such as Delicious, Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, and Technorati. When using a
social bookmarking site like Delicious, tags not only function to help you
categorize online content you find interesting but to connect you to other
relevant content. In the case of Delicious, you can make your tagged content
public, so that it can serve as a resource to others, or private, perhaps to
remind yourself to come back to something later.
Another good use of social
bookmarking sites is to create group resource lists for collaborative
bookmarking. Check out TechSoup's
Nonprofits in Second Life Delicious group page for an example of how
multiple users can collaborate with social bookmarking. If the thought of what
ranks as worthy of bookmarking is daunting, a great way to get started using
social bookmarking sites is to tag content on your organization's website so
that others may find you.
Tagging is not only a tool for archiving and locating online
resources, it can also be used to collaborate with your volunteers and other
like-minded organizations and even for fundraising. Tagging can be a great
activity for volunteers, as it provides an opportunity to volunteer virtually
by adding tags to the digital content your organization has on photo or video
sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube.
The Boomer Esiason Foundation raised
thousands of dollars for cystic fibrosis research by working with corporate
sponsors who donated five dollars for every tweet or Foursquare check-in charity
supporters made that used the hashtag "#tackleCF." UNICEF used mobile tagging
technology to raise awareness of the childhood hunger and raise money. The campaign
used Microsoft tags placed
on supermarket staples such as milk and water and prompted shoppers to donate
the value of the items they were shopping for to UNICEF. Donations were
followed by an additional prompt to share on social networks to encourage
others to participate through donations.
While the preceding should serve to illustrate the value of
tagging for online content it is helpful to remember the words of one chat
participant who wisely noted, "Tags are a function of your content - not the
To further help readers learn about tagging visit TechSoup's
Nonprofit Social Media 101 wiki or any of the following:
Susan ChavezOnline Community & Social Media Team, TechSoup Global@Susan_Chavez
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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