I always thought that tagging was just another way for you to organize the mounds and mounds of data that we find on the web. You can tag blog posts, tag YouTube content, tag your links in Delicious, tag your links in Digg…basically any online content engine has some sort of tagging mechanism.
Quick note: tags allow people to associate words to information they find on the web. For instance, I found a yummy, yummy, yummy (salivating) baking site using StumbleUpon. I tagged it in my favorites as “baking” and “blog”.
But, I didn’t realize the opportunity that tagging offers those of us in the business world. Let’s say that you work for a cell phone manufacturer. You want people to use the words, “cool”, “technology”, and “wireless”, when talking about your product. But, how do you know?
Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff give an interesting take on this in their book, Groundswell. They talked to Ricardo Guimaraes, founder of Thymus Branding, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ricardo believes that your brand’s image belongs to the customers that define it.
So, with that logic, the way people tag your company content online should give you some insight into what people associate with your brand. Delicious offers a URL search that will bring up the tags people have used for that URL. I was excited to see some of the tags associated with our company website – “healthcare IT”, “government IT”, “jobs.”
This could go the other way, too. You may find some tags that people have associated because of a bad experience with your brand. But, remember how I said that we can’t control the message, just hope to influence it? This is another way for you to learn – listen to – what your customers are saying.
Gain the insight…tag, you’re it!