Does Social Tagging Promote Governance?

In an article on the AIIM SharePoint Community site, Does Social Tagging Accelerate Acceptance of Business Tagging in SharePoint?, Russ Edelman asks whether the growing acceptance of social tagging across various consumer applications and websites is picking up steam within the enterprise and, specifically, with SharePoint.

socialtaggingI believe so, though I don’t have any empirical data or formal studies to fall back on other than my own experience and customer interactions. But why would that stop me from sharing my opinion? 

Respond to an online article or blog post, make an online purchase, or review recently uploaded project documents on the intranet – and you’re likely able to attach some sort of metadata, such as a rating, a comment, or a keyword. In my view, its not so much a question of whether social tagging is picking up steam, but what do you do with all of this additional data?

A follow on topic for any metadata conversation is, of course, governance. Within SharePoint, a metadata strategy without a sound governance model to manage it is a HUGE mistake. My observation is that as people become more comfortable with social tagging, and start seeing the benefits of using a folksonomy in SharePoint (attaching their own keywords to someone else’s document upload, for example), they begin to self-regulate their tagging. They become more reflective, and conscientious of the keywords they apply because they know they are going to want to find the content again. The whole point of social tagging is improving search.

My thought is that there is some degree of evolution that happens around individuals who actively tag content in that they begin to self-govern, create personal standards around common keywords, and hold fairly true to these standards – because they inherently understand the  connection to future content queries. I recognize that this scenario is more likely in the business world, and with SharePoint specifically, than with consumer-focused sites and tools.

Your thoughts?

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.