People tagging

One of the most successful online social drugs is people tagging in Facebook photos. I can’t recall when this feature was first introduced but getting a message saying “you’ve been tagged in a photo” followed by a link was incredibly seductive. It still is. 

And it isn’t link bait as the content typically is quite good on the other side of that link.

Twitter’s users invented their own native version of people tagging with @replies that have evolved into @mentions. It’s very popular to see @username in a tweet. I do it all the time when I’m hanging out with friends and loved ones. 

Foursquare has a cool way of people tagging. They use the Twitter namespace and actually do an autocomplete during the check in. Then if I send that check in to twitter, my friends can see that I included them in the tweet. It just works. 

Instagram has their own version of people tagging but it’s a bit wonky. They use “@username” as well – just like Twitter. But when you tap on the @username in Instagram it goes to the user profile page on Instagram.

Here’s why it’s confusing. The other day I took a photo of my friend @ryan on Instagram that I fully intended to share on Twitter. But his user name on Instagram isn’t @ryan. So folks on Twitter knew who was in the photo but people on Instagram thought it was a different Ryan. 

It would be great if Instagram reconciled their namespace with Twitter. Especially since they copied the same @username syntax from Twitter. 

I think people tagging is extremely useful and fun. But somehow it needs to be organized and structured. I guess we solved this with email back in the day. It seems fixable. 

And as more social apps come to market, i’d love to see more of them figure out how to connect and sync with the best people tags as much as possible.