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When It Comes to Tagging, You’re It

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BusinessWeek takes a good look at tagging (sometimes called folksonomies) from an interesting perspective – the threat they pose to search engines…

The trend represents a new approach to organizing and finding information online, and industry watchers expect it to draw people away from the traditional Net search offered by Yahoo and Google Inc. Tagging won’t replace Google et al. But people may turn to tags more frequently over time, reducing their use of established search engines.

The risk? It could cut into the search-advertising revenues that are all-important to Google and Yahoo. No one has estimated the potential toll, but losing even a few minutes of people’s time each day could be costly. “Search is no longer the only way to find things,” says Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution.

As I told Wired News earlier this year, I believe that Yahoo and Google will eventually enable their users categorize and share searches under specific tags. This way, someone looking for REM will be pointed to other similar tagged “saved” searches that are filed under “rapid eye movement” or the name of the musical group and/or other tags. My bet is that Google Labs or Yahoo Next will debut something along these lines later this year.

The BW article also underscores the rising importance of tags for marketers. Often I am asked why I think tags are a big deal. The reason is simple – it makes consumer-generated content a lot more discoverable.

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.

When It Comes to Tagging, You’re It
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