PR-Squared's "Social Media Tactics" Series … Edgework With Social Bookmarking

IStock_000002419694XSmallExtending off the ideas presented in the last installment re: using for thought leadership … You can also use social bookmarking for “edgework,” which is a fancy name for direct interaction with end-users.

This is risky.  Proceed at your own risk.  Your mileage may vary.  A lot.

“Traditional” PR/marketing pros tend to deal with a narrow band of professional influencers (i.e., the mainstream media and the better-known bloggers) - with whom there are unstated but well-known “rules of enagement.” 

Operating in this world is like working at a zoo.  Follow the rules and you’ll be okay; but poke the bear and you could lose an arm. 

But, direct contact with “the people” carries all the risks you’d expect.  You’re in the jungle where the Wild Things Are.  In this realm you tread lightly and leave your big stick at home.  This is about subtletly.

Nervous, yet?  Good.  OK, here goes. 

An example of edgework via

Look here and you see that 120 people used to save the news release we originally issued re: the Social Media News Release template.  Look here and you see that you can add another 88 users who saved the template (pdf) itself.  Likely there’s some overlap, but for now, figure that there are 200–odd people who have expressed genuine interest in the SMNR debut.

Now, look here and you see that just 35 people used to save my blog post about SHIFT’s Social Media Newsroom template (pdf).  And only another 20 folks saved the actual PDF.  That gives us roughly 50 people who expressed an interest in the Newsroom.

The delta between the people interested in the templates for the Release vs. the Newsroom is at least 150.  What to do?

We can use the “for:username function of to add the relevant Newsroom links to the 150+ accounts that had already saved the News Release template.  The saved link will appear in these end-users’ “in-boxes” as a “Link for You.”

Before talking about what could happen next, a key issue is: how to approach writing the message to these strangers?  Some might appreciate your gesture; some might see it as an intrusion.  (Granted, is a SOCIAL – read: public – bookmarking service, yet some people could still take offense.) 

Remember, you only get 255 character spaces with, so, keep it short & sweet, like so:

“Noticed you’d saved SHIFT’s Social Media News Release template. Thought you might also be interested in this Social Media Newsroom template.  There’s a PPT available, which describes the whole approach, at I’m at”

That’s 247 character spaces, in which we’ve explained HOW we found the person (relevancy), WHY we are “intruding,” and WHERE they can get more info if interested, including how-to write back, for more info (or to kvetch). 

It’s important to note that many people who use for personal reasons draft quick notes (to themselves and/or to the community) about WHY they saved the link.  This allows for a more meticulous approach, i.e., if someone has noted that they dislike the Social Media News Release template, they shouldn’t get the generic note used above!  We could ignore them, or try a softer approach.

Now what?

Once the outreach has been made via the “for:username” function, some folks on the receiving end of our campaign will elect to “accept” this link by actively saving it within their account (a metric you can track).  Some folks will take further action: they might blog about it (measurable); they might download the template (measurable); they might comment at the original Newsroom’s debut blog post (measurable).  They might email you directly (measurable).  They might do nothing (also measurable). 

In any event we can feel pretty confident that we’ve ONLY reached out to people who would likely be genuinely interested, based on their prior, public social bookmarking behavior.  If we’ve kickstarted the conversation about Social Media Newsrooms a-fresh, it’s likely going to be a smooth and productive transition with this crowd.

Now, extend this approach with your own brand. 

What if you are pitching a digital camera?  How about checking out this link to see the most popular posts tagged with the phrase “digitalcamera.”  You see that the top link is to the well-regarded blog, Digital Photography Review, which has been saved by over 10,000 users

Maybe that’s too many?  Maybe you want to focus an “edgework”  campaign on the cutting-edge Flickr community?  Cool.  The #2 most-saved link using the “digitalcamera” tag is this one:  “Top 10 cameras on Flickr – Digital camera news –,” which has been saved by 115 people.  What can you do with this information…?

Example: Perhaps your client is a big camera company, which wants to create a focus group for an upcoming “dummy-proof” dSLR by recruiting people who have publicly saved at least ten “digital photography 101–style” links. 

First off, you could create a microsite containing a special offer to people who volunteer for this focus group, and then “save it for” this newbie group whom you’ve identified via the tag search strategy we’ve outlined here. 

Ninety people have saved this article about “Which lenses for my Digital SLR (Canon)?”  Given the “tutorial” tone of the article, it’s safe to assume that these 90 people are likely getting serious about photography but may still be fairly new to the burgeoning dSLR field.  You could cross-reference these 90 users against the 115 users who saved the “Top 10 cameras on Flickr” link mentioned above and voila:  you’ve identified exactly the types of people who may be happy to serve in a focus group about your client’s new dSLR camera – especially if you offer them a big coupon for your branded goods, or maybe consider gifting them with a Flickr Pro account.  In return you’d get terrific feedback from savvy online consumers about your product and brand… and possibly the beginnings of a buzz campaign about your upcoming product launch.

When you’re living on the edge, the possibilities are endless.

Posted on: September 26, 2007 at 8:59 am By Todd Defren
6 Responses to “PR-Squared's "Social Media Tactics" Series … Edgework With Social Bookmarking”


  • suzymiller says:

    This is a great resource. And you speak plain English. Thank you.

  • Interesting idea, but still too generic, especially given a user probably offers plenty more public data in the form of bookmarks and notes.

    Noticing a person’s web behavior (e.g. that they publicly bookmarked a link) is a simple observation and probably doesn’t merit contacting them. Even a machine could track this behavior, so there’s nothing special about pitching to that interest. But, if you spent a couple minutes observing not only one bookmarking action but all of them, and then personalized a message, the opportunity to break the ice with that person is much more likely.

  • Kami Huyse says:

    Interesting idea Todd. I just got a little tired thinking of writing personalized messages to 150 individual delicious users and checking each entry to see if they hated it or liked it.

    I do wonder how this idea scales and if it will be abused? Then again, what channel isn’t abused once it is revealed? I know you warned us up front, but you are preaching to the choir. The bad guys won’t care.

    As an aside, remember when Rubel asked to be pitched with the for: tag? I wonder if he still uses it?

  • Todd Defren says:

    Brian – I was hoping you’d stop by; using the term “edgework” is like issuing an open invitation to Mr. Oberkirch. ;)

    In response to your (and Susan’s) concerns:

    First, please be sure to refer back to the big-time warnings/caveats that preceded the tactical discussion in this post. I am deadly serious about the fact that this is a potentially dangerous approach.

    Next, more to the point, you’ve recognized that this idea is BASED on “sharing links connected to an attention stream,” i.e., it ONLY works if the marketer can make a strong case for the context of their outreach.

    Is it all that different from a contextual/behavioral advertising approach (which Google, Overture, et al., have turned into a “respectable” multi-billion-dollar business)? And I am not just talking about typical/anonymous Google searches – don’t forget that Google scours people’s oh-so-personal Gmail accounts to serve up contextual ads!

    If a person is using a social/public bookmarking system (and storing their faves in public: don’t forget that people *can* elect to save to “privately”), it’s only going to be a matter of time before marketers see this as a potential channel.

    For now, at least, this is a daunting proposition to most all marketers. The approach I am discussing here allows the marketer to narrow their outreach based on identifiable, contextual and (I dare say) legitimate

    “You publicly saved THIS; you even publicly said WHY you saved it … which makes me think you might like THIS.”

    That doesn’t sound so bad… it’s certainly no more nefarious than the targeting techniques that big advertisers, political campaigns, et al. currently use to try to influence people.

    “There is no market for messages” – so true. But it’s also true that “Marketing happens.” With a post like this one I am hoping to guide future marketing efforts toward the helpful vs. the harmful.

    As always, I could be wrong. That happens, too.

  • Todd: I think watching delicious, Magnolia and other social bookmarking services is a great way to see what people are interested in, how they assign metadata to stories, how they group stories, and so on. I wonder about the practice of spamming people’s delicious inboxes with links, though. Yes, you’re talking about sharing links connected to an attention stream, but I wouldn’t want companies spamming up my delicious account, however relevant they might think a link is.

    The idea behind edgework is much more than simply distributing messages directly. “There is no market for messages,” still rings true enough. Stuff like this is just old school media outreach by other means.

  • Now this is taking it to the people. While just about any way of explaining it to the client smacks of “slightly spammy” it really is one of the ways in which we can give the audience interested in our information more of the same.

    What keeps this idea on the better side of a fine line is that it is a response to an action taken by your audience, not a scattershot one. If well targeted, and if used with restraint and creativity it has the potential to garner high marks. Some grey (or flaming) hair along the way may be incidental.

Show some social media love would ya?

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