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The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Assets with Tags

Looking for a better way to easily organize, manage, and search for your assets? Tagging is the tool you need!

April 9, 2021

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Table of Contents

Introduction to Tagging

We can all relate to this experience: you are looking for a particular photo, document, or video that you’ve saved somewhere on your computer. You open one folder, then another, then another. Was the file in the “website” folder? No, go back to the last one. Maybe you put it in the “July” folder because that’s when you shot the footage? Not there either.

If you are already using an asset management system to store and manage all of your assets, you probably already have a basic organization system in place. Maybe your files are stored in projects and folders based on each of your organization’s productions, campaigns, or teams.

It’s impossible to use projects and folders to fit all your organizational needs, and that’s where tagging comes in.

But what happens when you need to find all of your team’s electronic press kits, which are stored in various projects? Or photos of one specific product, shot on different days for use in different campaigns? If projects and folders are all that you have, in a system like Google Drive for example, it can be challenging to make that work for all of your organizational needs. 

A system that includes tagging is an easy solution to this common issue, allowing you to use specific keywords to organize and quickly search for all of your assets. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some general best practices (as well as expert tagging techniques) for effective asset management using tags.

Make a Plan

Before you jump in and start adding tags to all of your files, it’s important to sit down and sketch out a strategy. If you are dealing with a large number of files, or sharing a system that other colleagues and collaborators will also have access to, making a comprehensive plan is vital. Start by thinking about the types of files you have in your account, and how your projects are currently set up. This will help you determine what kind of categories your tags might fall under, and where the gaps are in your current project and folder structure. 

Depending on your specific workflow, some helpful ways to think about organizing your files might be:

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Thinking past the larger picture, it also can be effective to add tags to suit more specific needs. These may fit into more than one overarching category, and could include:

  • The location where the photo or video was taken
  • The names of the actors or models appearing in the shot
  • A ranking system to note a director or editor’s favorite selects
  • The notation of “final” on a document that has gone through all of its revisions
  • The primary colors or shades appearing in an image

The bottom line is that the structure needs to work for you and your team, and no two systems will be exactly the same. Find some consistency across projects, folders, and teams, whatever that may look like for your workflow.

The bottom line is that the structure needs to work for you and your team, and no two systems will be exactly the same.

Expert tip: Want to take your tagging to the next level? The most concise and efficient way to tag your assets is by using MECE Principle, a structural framework designed to help with complex problem solving and informational organization. As you organize each layer of tags from the highest level to the most granular, each juncture should have options that are mutually exclusive (meaning no one item can fit into any two groups) as well as collectively exhaustive (every single item fits somewhere). A great example of MECE-friendly tags are “pre-production”, “production” and “post-production” since there is no one asset that would fit into more than one category, and those categories cover your entire asset library. This helps eliminate the possibility of any one asset showing up in two places, therefore making them easier to search for.

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Specific Use Cases by Industry

Let’s dive into some common use cases with examples of how using tags might work for you:

Retail or brand asset management

If your company sells products directly to consumers online or in storefronts, or if you work on a marketing team with B2C campaigns. 

High-level tags: website, print, storefront, e-commerce, social media, model, packshot
More specific tags: product name, SKU number, seasonal campaign, model name, specific social platforms, primary colors

Media and entertainment production

Production companies working on film, television, or online video projects. Especially useful for one company that works on several productions simultaneously. 

High-level tags: film or show name, scene number, date of production, director’s name, stage of production 
More specific tags: location, take number, names of actors, director’s ranking

Advertising and marketing campaigns:

Creative, production, or marketing teams that work on advertising campaigns with a variety of clients, brands, and products. 

High-level tags: logo, product name, specific campaign, brand or client name, date of production
More specific tags: primary colors, subjects, themes, specific social platforms, launch or release dates

Tagging your Assets

Once you have a plan, it’s time to start tagging! If you don’t already have an asset management tool that includes tagging, you can start a free 14-day trial of Shift today to try this out for yourself. Start by uploading your content (videos, photos, audio, documents, and more) into your workspace and setting up a basic organization system. Create new Projects for high-level organization, with folders and individual assets inside each to suit your specific needs. 

Once your content is uploaded, you can start adding tags immediately. Select any asset or multiple assets and open the right-side drawer. Either tag assets individually or highlight and bulk-tag multiple items to quickly and efficiently label what you need after uploading.

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Searching for Assets by Tag

Once all of your assets are tagged, use the global search in Shift to drill down to exactly what you need without navigating through layers of folder tree structures. Filters like asset type (video, image, document), date uploaded, and who it was uploaded by add specificity to your search in conjunction with your added tags. Select a combination of search terms to take full advantage of your tagging structure and make it simple to find your assets in just a few clicks.

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Shift Tip: Do you often search for the same keywords over and over again? Use the Save Search feature to easily save and return to frequently searched terms! 
Save Search

Share Searchable Asset Libraries using Spotlight

Looking to make your assets accessible outside of Shift? Use Spotlight, Shift’s turnkey presentation builder, to share projects, folders, or a curated playlist of assets in a branded, searchable asset library. Either use a pre-set template with a built-in search bar, or add the search element onto your own template design. You can customize your Spotlight with multiple pages and tabs with as many folders, projects, and playlists as you need. From there, you can share it out externally and collaborators can use the built-in search bar to search by title, description, or tag to find what they’re looking for. Check out this article to learn more about what you can do with Spotlight.

A little bit of strategy and work on the front end can save you hours of time (and lots of headache) down the line.

Conclusion

Managing your media and assets doesn’t have to be a full-time job. A little bit of strategy and work on the front end can save you hours of time (and lots of headache) down the line once you implement a clear and thoughtful tagging strategy in a system like Shift. Never again will you find yourself searching through folder after folder to find all of your assets that meet one specific criteria — a few simple tags in the search bar will bring you exactly where you need to go, whether you have 100 files or 100,000. 

Inspired to start organizing and tagging your own assets? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Shift.

Grace Amodeo is a Content Marketing Manager at Shift. She is a graduate of Emerson College, where she studied film with a concentration in directing narrative fiction. Grace lives in Los Angeles.
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