How social media gets users to do cataloging for them

Hi Everyone,

With social media websites like Facebook, YouTube & Flickr gaining ever more popularity online, taking a look at how they organize and keep track of all their data is of special interest to us as Web Developers.  One of the key methods these social media sites use to keep track of their content is with tagging.  Tags represent the key terms that users search for when they search for a video or an image or any piece of content online.  However, with social media sites it is not tagging in traditional sense, because the content is generated by the users themselves, they are also the ones asked the assign their own tags.  So why do social media websites use these kinds of tagging mechanisms?  Why is it important to allow self-generated tags on user content?

Well the answers to websites run into two basic issues one of practicality and that user participation or control over the content they add to a website.  From a practical standpoint the simple fact is that a user creating and uploading their own content will have a much better idea of the kinds of tags that will be relevant to their content.  Once users create the first several tags it then becomes possible for the service to begin suggesting additional tags that it has identified as being somewhat related to those the user initially entered, which helps their content appear under a broader range of searches than it would have otherwise appeared under.

However for all it’s cost effectiveness and opportunities for user engage a folksonomy does poses several weaknesses, as highlighted in this New York Times piece, “grass-roots categorization, by its very nature, is idiosyncratic rather than systematic. [It] sacrifices taxonomic perfection but lowers the barrier to entry. Nobody needs a degree in library science to participate.”*  It’s because of these low entry barriers that the average user will be willing to add their own tags to content.  It makes sense for a social media sites such as YouTube to be willing to accept less accurately user-generated tags on uploaded content because forcing great accuracy would likely mean a more cumbersome user experience when uploading a video; which would probably dissuade large numbers of people from tagging their uploads at all.

So one of the chief weaknesses of using this type of tagging that users generally are pretty lazy when it comes to organizing their information.  This has the possibility of leaving user generate content not adequately tagged so that people will be able to easily find it.  Worse still it also opens up the possibility of completely false and misleading tags being added to content.  This was especially true for a phenomenon that became popularly known as a ‘Rick Roll.’  Where users would be directed to a video on YouTube after being told either by the tags or thumbnail image that the video was about one topic only to be treated in reality to a video of Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give you Up instead.

* Link to Times Article quoted:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/magazine/11ideas1-21.html?_r=0

Social Media and the creation of a good first impression online

Hi everyone,

Happy Monday morning, this week I want to talk a little bit about the still struggling global economy; with unemployment in the US still sitting above 7.5% finding and keep a job is major concern. For job seekers looking to land that next big opportunity effective promotion on social media gives you the perfect chance to create a great first impression as the first place most hiring managers will turn to when evaluating candidates is online.

LinkedIn

One of the first places recruiters look when screening is on LinkedIn.com, which for those of you that haven’t heard of it before is, one of the largest professional networking sites online. So it’s vitally important that your profile be as complete and up to date as possible because this is an opportunity to showcase your personal & professional strengths in a much more meaningful way than a simple resume and cover letter ever could. Now don’t misunderstand me, the resume and cover letter are still important, but in today’s extremely competitive job market you need to be taking advantage of every possible way to make you and your skills stand out from the rest of the hundreds of applicants recruiters will be looking at on a daily basis.

Facebook

Just as important to securing a job in today’s job market is preventing any potentially negative information or photos of yourself from appearing when an employer conducts a search on your name. There have been numerous cases over the last five years of employers dismissing staff over inappropriate or offensive comments or photos that appeared on their personal Facebook profiles. The key to avoiding problems with inappropriate photos and comments is certainly a delicate matter; and as the lines between people’s personal and professional lives tend to get increasingly blurred online, it’s important to remember that once it’s online it tends to stay online forever. So with that in mind you’ll need to cull any truly embarrassing photos of yourself and for the rest, alter your privacy settings so that only direct friends can see them. An even more secure method is to create an entirely new profile with all your personal comments and photos using an alias, which will separate your professional persona from your private life to a certain degree.

Google +

Now Google+ is Google’s response to the massive uptake seen Facebook usage in the last few years. It has yet to see the kind of public uptake seen on Facebook however, I mention it here because Google+ integrates with all of Google’s other online services, meaning that if you have one, your Google+ profile will be the very first search result employers see from a google search. As with everything that shows up about yourself online the thing to remember when conducting a job search that all the content that’s out there reflect all the things are best about you.

Managed effectively a great social media presence can open up all sorts of opportunities for you that probably didn’t even exist just a few years ago.