Customer facing site tags evolved from Meta element tags that were popularized in 2000 for optimizing pages for search and blogs…think LiveJournal. Tag usage grew in popularity as Myspace, Flickr, and other social sharing sites used tags to identify a person, place, or thing. The e-commerce site Zumiez.com was an early adopter of tags and implemented them on their product pages allowing customers to tag products.
Tagging in regards to graffiti is a form of ownership meant to be seen as the way they displayed on highway overpass signs, train cars, and abandon buildings but tags can also be personally identifiable and allow a customer to personalize an experience. The tags were indexable by search engines and often increased the keyword density on the page. There is still an insumountable of value in tags in relation to creating custom searches, custom pages, and creating unique wish lists.
Unique user generated content can be extremely valuable if they can be shared socially.
The evolution of internet language and how people use tags have changed since we implemented the Tag It functionality as shown below by the hashtag #boobies. Tags have now become synonmous with tagging persons in photographs and blogs.
The popularity of hashtags have mostly been promoted by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google and can also be found on YouTube and Tumblr. It is speculated that Facebook is planning on incorporating hashtags on their site as well: http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/03/facebook-hashtags.html. While hashtag usage is still much smaller than tag usage on our site if Facebook incorporates hashtags this could cause a worldwide adoption of hashtags. I am predicting that Google will soon release a hashtag search functionality at which time we should consider incorporate the verbiage “hashtag this” into our product pages.