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Ask Shama: Hashtags—What Are They Good For?

Dear Shama,

I am relatively new to Twitter, and I am trying to make the most of it. I’ve seen a lot of people using the # sign followed by some word or phrase. I’ve heard this is called a hashtag. I am not sure I understand fully. How are these hashtags created? Can anyone make one up? What’s the right etiquette here for using them? Can it help me attract more followers? Thanks for your …