What is a tag – and what is a hashtag?

You can see tags working in any social network site or social bookmarking site of your choice. They are basically keywords or key phrases, sometimes abbreviated for ease of use.

For example, conferences often have tags so that you can follow the discussion online.  Sometimes the conversation in blogs and on Twitter can be more interesting than the speakers themselves!  A key place or topic will have a tag – Obama’s inauguration for example.

By tagging posts, files, pictures or tweets with a tag, people can more easily find resources that others are using or talking about.

You can see from these that it’s often useful to run words together because many sites can only handle tags that are a single word.

Tags a re more focused than a simple search, because tags are chosen carefully as key words and concepts – it’s like searching the index of a book rather than every single word in it (which is what Google does).  and the index is more likely to point you at relevant pages.

Tags can be used as categories as well. For example, when I am creating a new course, researching info for a new customer, or writing a new article, I create  a tag for it and any resource I find that is relevant to that project I add the tag to, wherever I save it.

So if you are adding links to Delicious, photos to Flickr, or tweets to Twitter you might like to think about what keywords or tags you add. On Twitter use the hash before the word (which is why on Twitter they’re called hashtags).

Originally published on reachfurther.com