When it comes down to it, online clicks are social currency. While we’re often quick to only associate online engagement around obvious items such as Facebook “likes” or Twitter retweets,  it’s the catalogued and stored content that is helping spur additional waves of attention.

Last week, Read Write Web announced that StumbleUpon has now surpassed Facebook and is responsible for driving more than half of all social media referral traffic to websites. That’s big. Really big.

Conversations can spark and spread at lightning speed online based on a news story or compelling piece of content that reaches the right influencers.  Sometimes it happens right away but those engagement spikes may also occur later when an influencer latches onto a content piece through a social bookmarking site and grabs the attention of his or her followers.

If you’re not already actively using a social bookmarking service as part of your hospital marketing efforts, here are three ways to consider integrating into your communications efforts.

1. Learn the Rules of the Road
As with any online community, there are rules of the road to learn and play by if you’re using sites such as Digg or StumbleUpon. Luckily, others have already done the hard work and laid out some great tips and guidelines for getting started on a site such as StumbleUpon. Remember, the last thing you want to do is jump in and get flagged as a spammer.

2. Focus on Timing, Quality and Consistency
All three elements are critical to becoming a valued member of a social bookmarking community. Once you’ve honed in on influential users who share similar interests, study the type of content they are sharing to get a feel for what  entices their followers. In addition, recognize that social bookmarking is often about being the first to discover a piece of content. Earning a reputation as someone that is consistently identifying and sharing quality content will help establish credibility within the community right away.

3. Keep It Practical
An easy foray into social bookmarking world is to start an account on delicious.com. Consider setting up a shared delicious account with your communications team or department to allow for easy categorical content bookmarking. This is an easy tactic that will help everyone learn from one another as well as provide you with a centralized online reference point to quickly access information for employee trainings or spark ideas for future brainstorms.

Feel free to share your own tips and learnings around social bookmarking sites below!

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