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One More Thing: Align Your Efforts

You probably have guessed that some of the personal incentives of the people who use tagging systems connect well with the potential business benefits of tagging. You’ll get the greatest value by creating your system with your users’ motivations in mind. Here are some suggestions:

  • Regardless of your goals for your tagging system, it will succeed only if people actually use it. Your first job is to make it easy for people to contribute.
  • If you seek descriptive metadata or are looking at ways to augment your existing classification efforts, make sure that your tagging system helps people to manage their information well.
  • If your tagging system is meant to help you understand how people are using your content, social influence can be a negative factor. The visibility of other users’ tags may cause some users to simply follow along, or even discourage others who have different points of view. You might want to design your system so that it minimizes the trails of other users.
  • You can help increase participation by encouraging collaboration, play, and self-expression through tags. These behaviors often emerge on their own—as long as the system itself doesn’t stifle them.

How you decide to balance return on experience and return on investment will depend on your goals and your users’ needs.

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