We all come across useful information on the web, but the way we save and share links varies. Casual web users save links in their web browser for personal use. People who use multiple systems sync bookmarks among systems, using tools such as Chrome Sync. Power users share links at dedicated social bookmarking sites, like Delicious, Diigo, Kippt, or Pinboard. These sites support user-assigned #tags, which makes finding links easier.
But many more people share links to social networking sites than to bookmarking sites. Facebook claims more than 1.1 billion monthly users as of March 2013, and reports estimate that both Google+ and Twitter have more than 500 million users. In contrast, Delicious, one of the oldest dedicated bookmarking sites, reported fewer than 6 million users in 2008. Bookmarking sites work well for saving links, but the sheer number of users makes social sites a better way to share links with more people.
Yet dedicated bookmarking sites do more than just save and share links. Some offer ways to create customized lists of bookmarks (Delicious, Diigo, and Kippt), which is useful for "here are the sites you need to know about" resource lists. Other services can auto-save links shared elsewhere (Delicious auto-saves links from Facebook and Twitter, while Pinboard auto-saves links from Delicious and Twitter, along with "read it later" services Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability). The paid versions of Diigo, Kippt and Pinboard save not only the link, but also the content of bookmarked pages. And with Diigo, you can save text comments along with a link.
Google+ provides a "middle way" solution: it's a dynamic social networking platform that can also handle basic bookmarking tasks. If you don't need the features of a dedicated bookmarking site, I suggest you save and share your links with Google+. Here's how.
Before you begin
You'll need a Google+ account, of course, for this to work.
You also should install a plug-in to share links to Google+. As of June 12, 2013, Google's own Google+ Chrome browser extension lets you both +1s and share a site. The +1 implies that you recommend a site. If you will be bookmarking pages you might not want to publicly recommend, you should not use Google's plug-in. As an alternative, I suggest the AddThis browser extension, which can be configured to share links without also endorsing the site with a +1. Install either one of these plugins for your browser.
Share links to a Google+ Community
1. Create a Google+ Community
The simplest way to do this is to create a new Google+ Community. You'll need to make a few decisions in the process. First, you need to decide whether your Community should be public or private. Then, for public communities, you also choose whether or not people need permission to join. For a private community, you also choose whether or not people can find the community with a search.
Google provides a nice table that displays the implications of these choices, along with examples of types of groups. For example, I set my Community bookmarks to be publicly visible, so others can see them, but not contribute. A project team might choose to have all members of the team able to save and share bookmarks to the Community.
Use a Google+ Community for social or private bookmarking
Once you've made your decision, create your new Google+ Community with the step-by-step instructions from my earlier post, "Quick Tip: Set up a Google+ Community". (If you have an existing Google+ Community, you might add "Bookmarks" as a new category. To view your bookmarks with this setup, click on the category - bookmarks - to display only items shared to the category.)
2. Share bookmarks to your Community
When you find a link you want to keep, share the page with your plugin of choice to your Google+ community. With all items you share you can add text comments or any #tags you want to use. Both text and #tags are searchable, which makes it easier to find links later.
If your links fall into distinct topics, you might share links to a specific Category, such as ProjectA or ProjectB. To edit your community categories, select the sprocket icon in the community's photo to access category (and other management) options.
Share a page to your bookmark Community
3. Search your bookmark Community
Finding links shared to a Community works from a desktop or laptop web browser. Go to the community, then type a keyword into the community search box. As of July 2013, Community search is surprisingly limited: a search for "analytic" won't find an article that contains the word "analytics". Also, community specific search is not available in the Google+ iOS or Android apps: a workaround is to access the community from a mobile browser.
Search your bookmark Community for keywords or #tags
4. Share links to an empty circle
An alternative to sharing links to a Google+ Community is to share links to a Google+ Circle. Create an empty Circle, and then share pages to this Circle. You can view the stream of pages shared to this empty Circle.
One note of caution: if you want the ability to search your bookmarks by keyword, a Google+ Community might be a better choice than a Circle. As of July 2013, there's no way to restrict a keyword search to items shared with a specific circle.
- While logged in to Google Plus, go to "Home", then select "People".
- Select "Your Circles".
- Click the circle with a + in it to create a new circle.
- Name your circle (I suggest "bookmarks"). Then click "Create empty circle".
- Share a page with the Circle.
Create an empty Circle for simple link saving
As with sharing to a Community, when you find a link you want to keep, share the page with your plugin of choice to your Circle. With all items you share you can add text comments or #tags - just remember you can't restrict a search to a specific circle.
Share a page to an empty Circle, with comments or #tags
view pages shared with this Circle, select the circle from your Google+ home
Select the empty Circle from your Google+ home page to view items shared to that Circle
Sharing items to a Google+ Community requires a bit of thought during setup. Sharing to an empty Circle works, but is much more limited. And, as of July 2013, the dedicated bookmarking sites offer features that Google+ simply does not. Here's hoping that some of those features (full content saving with keyword search?!) make their way into Google+. Until then, bookmark this page with Google+ and share it the next time a colleague emails a link to you.
Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.