Social Bookmarking sites – how I use them

Social Bookmarking

This week I signed up for Pinterest, the latest in an ever increasing line of Social Bookmarking Services (SBS). I wouldn’t necessary describe it as a dilemma, but using these services has required evaluation and a strategy of use.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Social bookmarking here’s a quick summary from CommonCraft.

Primarily the two reason I use these services is referencing and sharing information. When I first started using these services it was the storing of information for later reference which was my priority. However, in more recent times, having become ever more active in social media, using these platforms to re-share information is a necessity. Here is a quick summary of the services I use and how.


Delicious was the first SBS I signed up for in 2007 and provided me with a brilliant service for several years. I stored and tagged all my bookmarks on here. With great Firefox plugin which includes a bookmarklet and iPhone app it provided me with everything I needed. Another strength of this service is the RSS feed for all your bookmarks and tags. This presented the ability to reshare and embed them into other websites, something which is yet to be surpassed.

When Yahoo decided to sell the service in 2010, this was a scare and with the future of Delicious being unsure decided to export my data and migrate to Diigo. Yahoo did sell Delicious and the service remains open, but in my humble opinion has lost a bit of it’s former glory. I do still use Delicous, but merely as a back-up, which I’ll touch upon in the Diigo section.


As stated above I migrated to Diigo in December 2010 and I have to say I’ve never looked back. It has become my primary bookmarking service for information that I regularly refer back to or feel will be useful in the future. It has key features that I feel are more useful than that originally offered by Delicious, including:

  • Highlighter: This enables you to highlight key passage of text on webpages, so when you return to them you can quickly refer back to key information. This is particularly useful for academic writing, if there are key quotes you want to pick out.
  • Sticky notes: This enables you to leave post it notes on a webpage with notes. This is also a great social feature, as when you visit a website which has been Sticky noted by fellow Diigo user, you can read there reviews.
  • Capture: Take snapshots of webpages and add annotations, here is an example

    Diigo iPad Web Highlighter
  • Lists: Manually organise your bookmarks into lists that can be ordered and annotated. These are great for making sharable reading lists. Here is the list I use when giving a presentation on Social Media and Employabilty.
  • Bookmark to Delicious, diigo allows every item that you bookmark to be sent/synced with Delicous. This is great as I know I have a backup.

To bookmark to the service there is a Diigo toolbar plugin for Firefox and a great iPad Safari add-on called the Web highlighter. My only criticism of the service is I’d wish they would integrate Diigo with other web services, for example Google Reader and Zite. I pick up alot of news from Zite, which has bookmarking to Delicous available, but not diigo. This is typical.


CiteULike is useful for bookmarking academic papers from journals etc. It stores any saved bookmarks as full references, including; Author, Abstract, ISSN, DOI and volume, issues etc. I don’t use this service that regularly, but when I find papers that I may want to read/reference in the future, it provides a useful storage.


I started using this service as it is one that integrates with alot of other tools I use including Google Reader, Zite and Echofon. Echofon is the client I use to tweet from within Firefox and iPhone/iPad.

I describe Instapaper as my ‘virtual holding station‘. Throughout the day I’ll read several tweets and pick-up thing on Google Reader that seem interesting, but don’t always have time to read and fully review. I will post these to Instapaper, where I store them until I get a chance to read them and decide whether they are worth keeping for future reference/sharing. If they are I’ll then post them to one of the other services, if the link is not worth keeping I’ll dispose of it. is a great service for sharing links, as well as bookmarking. On you create ‘Topics‘ which you ‘Curate‘ with links. I have five topics:

Unfortunately on a free account you can only have 5 Topics.

One of the best features of this service is the way it presents the links, in the style bookmarkletof a newspaper, using images from within the posts as thumbnails, as seen in the picture on the right. This makes it engaging when sharing links.

The service has bookmarklets for most Browsers and Mobile devices, and appears as seen here (left). When posting you choose which of you Topics you want to post to, the Title, thumbnail and  description auto fill, and you can choose where you want to share. Tags can also be added to the bookmark.

So far I have been posting anything I wish to share on, however way Pinterest shares links, which we’ll discuss shortly, I think I’ll now use primarily to share blog posts and news items. As the way the service presents the information as a newspaper, with most recent posts at the top of the page, I would describe it as a ‘now‘ service, hence suited sharing current content like news.


Pinterest is a very visual service,  like a Pin board. This make it suited to sharing and bookmarking pictures, however every picture is links back to it’s original source. You organise your links on Boards and you can Pin to links to a board via a Bookmarklet. A good place to start with this service is to create your Boards/Themes and when you find something relating to that theme Pin-it. So far my boards include:

  • iPad essentials: This is where I pin links to Apps and right short reviews
  • Infographics: This may supersede my Topic
  • Funnies: Ideal for sharing the sort of content that used to get sent in large circular emails that fill up your inbox. For a short time I used Tumblr for this, but I think this is going to be easier.

The service is very social, as each item Pinned is group to a list of predefined categories it is shared widely. I posted this image of some bananas and within minutes it was ‘re-pinned’ 34 times and received 20 likes. Therefore this service is a blend between a Social Network and a bookmarking site.

My only critique of the service so far is it’s not very mobile friendly. There is an iPhone App, but there is a desperate need for an iPad App and bookmarket. There is a bookmarklet code on the Pinterest blog, but I can’t seem to get it to work, so something more official is required.


So they are the social bookmarking services I use, it may seem like I use too many, however there is a process to this as shown in this flowchart.

Social Bookmarking Flowchart

This is by no means definitive and I’m sure it will change in the future.



  1. A social bookmarking service is a centralized online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of web documents.[1] Many online bookmark management services have launched since 1996; Delicious, founded in 2003, popularized the terms “social bookmarking” and “tagging”. Tagging is a significant feature of social bookmarking systems, enabling users to organize their bookmarks in flexible ways and develop shared vocabularies known as folksonomies.”

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