Tags have kind of become invisible to many of us. They are taken for granted. This article about Amazon though reminds me just how cool they really are.
What is Amazon going to do with all these tags? Well, to start with it already offers a search for product by tag, which is a nice feature not available on most other large ecommerce sites. But I suspect there is much more that will be done soon with Amazon tags. It is only the matter of time before we see Find similar items by tag. Here is why…. today on Amazon, if you are looking at a book, you get recommendations for similar books by content. This is an item-based recommendation – different from ‘Customer who bought X also bought Y’, which is a social recommendation.
It’s not just the tagging that makes it work though. Had Amazon just added their own tags it would have been great, but they added their usual secret source. Customers add the tags. This is Amazons strength and a proven idea, they could have stuck with their own reviews but they trusted users to add their own. Users decide how to describe a product in their own language and therefore through the magic of tagging how they are related.
Pretty neat huh? Users do all the work but both customers and Amazon benefit.
The lesson isn’t about tagging, it’s about enabling your audience, providing leadership and getting the hell out of the way.