Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Geting a Social Bookmarking Service Started

This years side project has been getting a social bookmarking service going. I've really been pushing this as I see this type of service as an easy entry point to the world of web2.0. Why an entry point, apart from this was how I got started, well the user gets an immediate return on effort invested even before they start to see the 'network' effect i.e. mining other users bookmarks. Just escaping from the bookmark hell of IE or Firefox favourites and being able to find what your bookmarks via tags is so liberating. I know I had given up bookmarking site as my IE favourites folder had become unnavigable.
Our first step in this project was to see what open source options we had available, after all we had no budget so whatever we did had to be cheap plus as is the case for most Web2.0 tools there are great open source clones out there that you can use to experiment with. If it doesn't work throw it away, if it does we you either have a great code base to develop from or at least understand the requirements for a purchased option. Anyway we opted for a del.icio.us clone called Scuttle and got this up and running first on WOS, then on a spare desktop. Turns out that Scuttle has all the basic features you would want and is very stable.
Next step was to seek some funding from the IT innovation fund and this netted some money but more importantly gave us enough of an official status to allow us to get a domain name from the corporate stack. We wanted something that everyone would be able to remember and you don't get simpler than 'tags.xxxxxx.com'. Now in possession of a decent domain name and enough funding to get us server space we got the new instance up. In true web2.0 style we started a 'private beta/invite only' recruitment campaign. Amongst those targeted were people who had good social networks. We did this for two reasons one in the hope they would get the social side and two because when we moved to the next stage we could get them to recommend the service to there network. No amount of advertising can counts as highly as a recommendation from someone you trust.
The service has been up and running for 3 months now and has been spread via word of mouth so far. We have ~60 users and something like 800 bookmarks with an associated 2400 tags. Interestingly almost half, ~30, users have only bookmarked one item so that shows just how active the other 30 have been. We need to follow up with these single bookmarkers and learn why they only bookmarked once. In the mean time we are about to run an advertising campaign and open this service right up to ~1000 people. It will be interesting to see at what point people start to see the social benefit from other peoples tags. Though actually capturing this is somewhat of a challenge and something I'm going to have to work on over the next month.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Most social bookmark services encourage users to organize their bookmarks with informal tags instead of the traditional browser based system of folders,they also enable viewing bookmarks associated with a chosen tag, and include information about the number of users who have bookmarked them. Some social bookmarking services also draw inferences from the relationship of tags to create clusters of tags or bookmarks.
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Jeastha

Social Bookmarking