Twitter is like a rolling stream. You can get really caught up just watching it go by—or you can jump in and play around for a while. But Twitter is more than just a fun place to hang out—it can really help grow your small business.

If you’re like many people, you use Twitter to promote your company, post news and special offers, or build awareness. But there’s more to utilizing Twitter to its full potential. All it takes is a little strategic thinking.

First things first!

Remember that on Twitter, it’s important to have your branding in top shape. Be sure to complete your profile, with a branded background, picture and description with a link to your website.

Always keep in mind your audience, your message and your voice. Know what you stand for, what your audience wants and what you have to offer.

Next, you need to build a high-quality audience. Note that I didn’t say “high-quantity audience.” Before you hit “follow,” think about who they are and if they can help you reach your goals. Followers are potential customers, and can grow your audience. And if you’re tracking sales leads, be sure to follow people who have expressed an interest in your products.

Winning Twitter Strategies to Grow Your Business

Now it’s time to learn a few Twitter tricks that can really help boost your results:

  1. Search to Build Your Audience: Use Twitter’s search function and hashtags to find like-minded people and businesses to follow. For example, searching for #dental will list the top tweets using that hashtag. Choose among them for new people to follow. Some will follow you back, while others will begin seeing your hashtagged tweets and follow you later. Keep your eyes open as you interact on the web on customers’, associates’ and vendors’ websites and social media channels, to find still more people to create conversations with. Remember to keep inviting new followers on your email signature, website, blog posts and social media posts.
  2. Use hashtags to build interest: Hashtags can highlight keywords in your posts, or the topic you’re talking about. Hashtags not only help your tweet show up in searches, they also improve your chances of being re-tweeted. Whether you’re referencing a current event, such as the #2016Grammys, a holiday like #ValentinesDay or a new product like #dentalprinter, hashtagged tweets get twice the engagement. Tweets with 1 or 2 hashtags get higher engagement than those with 3 or more.
  3. Use more visuals: All the research says that images get way more attention than just words. 36% of shared links on Twitter are images, and tweets with image links get twice as much engagement. Tweets with images are 34% more likely to be retweeted than with no images.
  4. Keep it short: If you use all 140 characters, you’re making it difficult for others to re-tweet you. Leave them some room! Tweets with less than 100 characters get 17% more engagement.
  5. Provide good content: Be interesting. Be helpful. Provide information that positions your company as an expert. If you’re doing your job, your followers will want to learn more about what you post, so be sure to include links. Tweets with links are 86% more likely to be retweeted. Remember, link clicks account for 92% of all user interactions with tweets.
  6. Listen and interact: This is pretty basic, but it’s still important! Twitter is a goldmine for enhancing relationships with customers and prospects. When you hear from a follower, you’ve engaged them. Continue the conversation through replies or direct messages (ask for permission on DMs first). Thank them for following you and for re-tweets, and return the favor. And stick to this strategy whether a comment is positive or negative.
  7. Ask for retweets: Your tweets have a 12x higher chance of being retweeted if you ask—and are 23x more likely to be retweeted if you spell out “retweet.”
  8. Post throughout the day: Like I said, Twitter is like a stream, and your followers are in and out all day. Posting once a day means that many of your followers will miss your tweets. Mornings are great, but consider time zone differences. And keep in mind that mobile Twitter users are 181% more likely to be on their Twitter app during their commute.
  9. Measure results: Plenty of tools exist to help you track and measure Twitter activity. From improved website traffic to increased sales, it’s all measurable, through Google Analytics or tools like HootSuite or TweetReach.

Remember, you’re on Twitter to build awareness and expand your reach—not just to sell. Focus on being a resource—not a salesperson— to your customers, and you’ll grow your business. Tell us how you use Twitter in the comments. We’d love to hear your ideas, strategies and suggestions!

All statistics from Iquarius Media and 10 Surprising New Twitter Stats to Help You Reach More Followers, by Belle Beth Cooper; buffer

Gary Thompson
Owner, OnMerit Marketing

About the Author

Gary is OnMerit Marketing’s owner and blog writer. A Brand Designer and Internet Marketing Specialist, he has a passion for helping small businesses look great and grow their businesses online. Follow Gary on Twitter @onmerit, or Facebook: