The Social Web Part 2: Social Bookmarking Services

In the beginning there was the web. People stored their bookmarks locally. Then the netgods said: “Let there be tags!”, and social bookmarking emerged. Or something like that.

Social bookmarking is a simple thing. You store your bookmarks (or favorites, if you prefer that term) online and give them a couple of tags, which help you to remember why you stored them in the first place. You can then search your bookmarks for these tags. You can also search through other user’s public bookmarks and look which sites are widely favored - hence the word “social”.

My Top 5

he dinosaur. It’s been there for quite some time and has a huge following. If your looking for a big community, this one is for you. It’s not the most powerful, but it does what it’s supposed to do, without a fuss.


Also one of the older services, and it shows. Bookmarks are easy to handle and edit. When you bookmark a site, Furl stores a copy of it. Nothing spectacular, but reliable.


Pretty much standard in it’s features and doesn’t even have a browser add-on. The only real reasons why I listed it here: Groups are well implemented, and I like the clean and extremely well structured design.


Seriously lacking in the social department, but has one thing that make it shine: A link checker. Shouldn’t that be a standard for an online bookmarking service? If you’re just looking for a way to store your bookmarks online for yourself, Netvouz is worth checking out.


What Netvouz lacks, is Blinklist’s big plus – the community. Other than that, I don’t see anything special about it.

If you want to submit your posts to several of these services at once, you should take look at OnlyWire.

I know there are a lot of other social bookmarking services, but these are the ones I have tried and found handy.

The Social Web Series
Part 1 - Social News Sites
Part 2 - Social Bookmarking
Part 3 - Blog Communities
Part 4 - StumbleUpon

Update: If you find that my Top 5 are not enough for you, head over to Arsenal Marketing for a list of 139 Social Media Sites including pagerank. If that’s not enough, you should really seek professional help.

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The Social Web Part 1: Social News Sites

You have written great posts, but your visitor count doesn’t explode. You want people to know about your blog. Isn’t there a possible source of large amounts of traffic? After all, you believe that your content is really worth some attention.

Social News Sites CAN bring you a lot of traffic. In fact, they can bring you so much traffic, that your server goes down (if it’s not a well administered, sufficiently dimensioned server).

The three Majors:


The biggest of all voting news sites. The aforementioned server crash is commonly known as the “digg effect” for a reason – Digg delivers. Of course there are a couple of things you should know, before you waste your time. If you want the massive traffic fix, you need to get on the frontpage. To achieve that, you should have a circle of friends who deliver the first diggs. So, register there, digg stories you like, leave comments and get some friends. Then you might have a shot. But you better have some articles that are interesting to a geek audience. Oh, and good luck finding a category for your post (you’ll see what I mean).


Of the three big voting news sites, this is the only one that has actually given me massive traffic. Lots of traffic for a new blog. Other than it’s competitors, Reddit only wants the URI and the title of the story you submit. You don’t have to summarize or comment on it. If you think your Title sounds interesting and makes people want to know more – give it a try. You don’t have to choose a category for the post.


The categories here could be taken from a newspaper with a really broad topic selection. It’s kinda like digg, only without the concentration on the nerd faction. So, if you’re blogging about politics, Netscape might be a nice addition. Stories are removed from the listing pages after 24 hours. That has to do.

Some things the three have in common:

  • Having friends is a great benefit (if not a prerequisite).
  • Don’t submit a post during the night. People have to be awake to vote.
  • While it might not be forbidden, submitting your own stories is often frowned upon.
  • The title makes or breaks a frontpage story.

The Social Web Series
Part 1 - Social News Sites
Part 2 - Social Bookmarking
Part 3 - Blog Communities
Part 4 - StumbleUpon

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Alexa vs. reality

What is Alexa?

Alexa offers a Toolbar for the IE. If you install it, Alexa will monitor your surfing habits, thus counting the visitors a site gets from their toolbar users. After gathering the numbers, Alexa adds them, creates a ranking of all websites and pretends to know which websites get the most visitors.

But I use Firefox. Will Alexa count my visits?

Although Alexa only offers it’s toolbar for the IE, there is a way for you to get your visits counted. Install the SearchStatus add on.

What do people need these data for?

They don’t need it. But marketing people who don’t seem to know jack about the internet like numbers, even if they are inaccurate.

I’ll show you what I mean, when I say “inaccurate”. I’ll take Tobsy says as an example.

The last 3 months according to Alexa:

Alexa Users Graph

The Google Graph for the last 3 months:

Google Users Graph

Alexa tells me that most of my visitors are from Germany (39.0%), the US (33.0%), the UK (10.0%) and Australia (4.0%).

Google says that the same visitors are from the US (57.8%), Germany (10.6%), Canada (6.9%), the UK (6.1%).

These numbers might not seem important, but if you want to advertise with a company that requires a US majority, they can be critical. Alexa’s number for Germany has been way over 50%, by the way.

So, while I clearly don’t like the stats Alexa provides, I still think it is important, that you install the SearchStatus add on to raise them. At least if you want to monetize your blog. Even if you don’t believe the numbers - some advertisers do.

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Firefox - A blogger’s best friend

If you are used to the Internet Explorer, you should give Firefox a try. Not only is it a lot more compliant to the standards of the W3C than the IE, it’s got a lot of other advantages that make it the only real choice for you as a blogger.

What makes Firefox stand out?

  • Tabbed browsing - Once you’ve used it for some time, you will never want to work without it again.
  • Integrated search - Without installing any toolbars you have a search field. For which engine? That’s your choice.
  • Session Restore - Ever had you computer crash and you had several pages open, most of which you hadn’t bookmarked yet? Simply open your Firefox and it’ll ask you, whether you want to continue where you left of or start a new session with an empty browser.
  • Highly customizable - Through chrome.css, about:config and theme support, you can customize appearance and behavior of your Firefox to a great extent.
  • png alpha bending - If your using IE < 7.0, I apologize for the screwed up transparency your browser is showing you.

The Add-Ons:

There are a lot of Add-Ons for Firefox, that will be a great support on your blogger’s journey. These are just my favorites. I’m sure you will discover others while you browse around.

  • SearchStatus - Shows Google PR, Alexa Rank and Compete Rank of the site your looking at. It has some other features as well, but is especially useful because with it installed, visitors to your site get counted by Alexa, without the need to use the Alexa toolbar (which is only available for the IE).
  • Screen Grab! - A great, really easy to use tool to take screenshots.
  • Firebug - A great help for web development.
  • ColorZilla - A nice colorpicker (amongst other things).
  • Adsense Notifier - Do you use Adsense? This Add-On gives you a constantly updated status report in your browser’s status bar. No need to check the site.
  • Better GReader - If you use the Google Reader, this provides some very useful tweaks.
  • Snap Links - Got a list with links you want to open? Draw a rectangle around it, and Snap Links opens every link in a new tab. (Alternatively you can use Mouse Gestures. Thanks to TheMightyBlad for the tip)
  • The StumbleUpon Toolbar - The toolbar for my favorite social media site.

These are just a few reasons to switch to Firefox. I’m sure I could have come up with a lot more, but since I’ve been using it for a long time now, I don’t know the newest IE. But if it peaked your interest, browse around, and I’m sure you’ll find even more reasons. I like my Firefox, and so does a vast majority of the bloggers I know.

Now, i you haven’t already - Go and get Firefox. If you want to use the Google Toolbar, you can use the Link in my sidebar (affl).

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Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst

I just had an involuntary break from blogging. Only two days, but when you just started a new blog, two days without a new post can really set you back. So, while I hope not to experience a problem like that again (Yeah, right), I will prepare myself for occasions like this. If you haven’t already, I suggest you do the same. Write something in advance. When the trouble comes, you just have to publish it.

What can I do?

  • Write some timeless content. Prepare some articles that will be as good in two months as they are now.
  • Answer some frequently asked questions.
  • Be personal and write an off-topic post about something you really like. Your favorite book, movie - maybe you can even link it to your blog’s topic.
  • Write a list. Hey, maybe it even draws a couple of these number-fetishists from digg to your site.
  • If you do paid posts - they would be a nice emergency post.

What I wouldn’t do:

  • Ask questions in your article. If your problem stops you from writing, it’ll more than likely stop you from answering comments as promptly as your readers deserve it.
  • Write reviews of other sites. The thing you like most about it might change in the meantime. Or worse, the mistakes you so cleverly point out are corrected.
  • Write a how-to. Your detailed instructions on how to install Mega-Plugin 1.2 might look less helpful when version 1.3 just got released.
  • Write something highly controversial. Again, you really should be able to comment for this.
  • Post an interview. This would just be rude. Interviews are not posts to be put back.

Okay people. I will try to always keep a couple of posts saved. When my computer challenges me to a fight again, I will be prepared. How about you?

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