By Alyssa Gregory

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Microsoft Office. All opinions are 100% mine.

Twitter is a popular choice when it comes to using social media for business. It’s easy to get started and it doesn’t take a lot of time to learn the ropes. The most challenging part, however, is building up a following. Without an audience tuning in to your tweets, it’s kind of like screaming into a deep canyon. And that can get frustrating very quickly.

If you’re new to Twitter — or even if you’re a seasoned user who is ready to ramp up your following — there are some proven tactics you can use to get more Twitter followers. Here are four practical tips to get you started.

1. Let Go of the Number Pressure

number pressure

So many of us are obsessed with the numbers game. We feel that unless we have thousands of thousands of followers, we’re not doing Twitter right. So we follow every account we can find without a thought to whether or not that profile is related to our targeted topics at all. This is not an effective way to build a following on Twitter. While you may gain followers, you are probably not getting the right followers. It’s much more effective to be strategic and purposeful. Forget the numbers and focus on quality over quantity.

2. Be Proactive

be proactive

Twitter is not a case of build it and they will come. Creating a profile and then sitting back and waiting for followers to accumulate just won’t work. Instead, you have to be proactive about growing your following. You can find (the right) Twitter users to follow by using Twitter’s Advanced Search and sites likes Twellow and Twibs. Consistently tweet information that is interesting and compelling, engage in individual conversations with your followers and make it a point to retweet others often.

3. Focus on Conversations

twitter conversations

I mentioned engaging in conversations above, but this is such a powerful tactic that it deserves to have is own item. While you may be on Twitter to promote a specific business, product or event, you really need to form relationships based on trust with your audience in order to move them through your buying cycle. One big way to do that is by engaging in conversations. Use lists to sort your audience by topic so you can easily track and participate in conversations. You can also search by hashtag to find conversations that interest you most.

4. Embrace Social Media Tools

social media tools

Yes, I just said focus on starting and cultivating conversations with your followers, and that’s not exactly easy to do with an automation tool. But not every tweet will be conversational. You’re on Twitter to promote something, and this means that some of your tweets will be promotional. Schedule these tweets in advance by using a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. A good social media management tool will also suggest content you can tweet, help you track followers and RTs, and provide you with data that can help you use Twitter more effectively.

Remember that building a quality following will not happen overnight. It takes time and consistent attention to create an audience on Twitter that is engaged with you and your content. Approach this process by doing a little bit everyday and you will be surprised how quickly you can increase your Twitter followers.

If you enjoyed these small business tips, register here for a free webcast called New Year, New Goals: Planning for Success, covering topics like creating a concise business plan, developing company goals, and using powerful tech tools in your business. The first webcast takes place on January 26, so don’t delay! 

And make sure you bookmark The Office Small Business Academy — an educational resource with advice, tools and thought leadership from small business experts that can help you get over every small business hurdle.

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