If you use your Twitter account to leverage your personal brand – and not just for fun – you should follow some basic rules to be sure you are not missing easy growth opportunities. Here are eight super-simple tips to strengthen your presence on Twitter.

1. Be different

Different channels mean different audience: that’s why recycling the same content on all your social networks is not a good idea. On Twitter you have to develop a specific communication style, taking advantage of the limiting technical specifications (140 characters) of the medium.

2. Chat

Place yourself at your users’ level and answer their questions as much as you can. Communication must not be one-way, imposed from above, but fresh and informal, open to dialogue. You might find in Twitter a new great channel for customer relationship management.

3. Retweet those who mention you

As well as chatting with your followers, don’t forget to retweet those who mention your brand in a smart, positive, ironic, or simply reasonable way. This will make them feel heard and important, they will perceive a better image of you and be more willing to spread your message. Don’t you like manual research? There are several tools (like TweetDeck or Topsy) that allow you to track any activity related to your account(s).

4. Customise your page

Most users will see your tweets in their stream and will probably never visit your brand page. However, an aesthetically appealing frontpage and an engaging bio show how deeply you are involved in your projects and may result critical when a user chooses whether to follow you or not. Remember that on Twitter (and on the internet as a whole) people do judge a book by its cover.

5. Be different (2)

Diversify the content of your tweets. If you run a news site, don’t tweet only a ton of links to your articles. If you run a coupon site, don’t tweet only your latest golden deal. Be creative while maintaining a strong brand identity. Why, for example, not holding a contest to reward the best tweet mentioning you? Opportunities are out there, you just need some imagination.

6. Use hashtags (wisely)

Hashtags allow you to get more visibility on Twitter and to create actual trends: if you are planning an event and you are going to promote it, you’ll want to create a specific hashtag to list all the related tweets and keep track of your campaign. As usual, the internet is full of famous examples and best practices on this topic that explain how to make the most of this versatile “tool” for your brand. Be careful not to make improper use of hashtags: you can read about a lot of unlucky hashtag campaigns that should discourage anyone from using them in not-so-legitimate ways.

7. Don’t overdo it

Don’t tweet dozens of times a day just to satisfy your desire to stand out: you’ll end up monopolising your followers’ stream, they’ll identify you as spam and stop following you – or they will overlook your tweets at best. Tweet with targeted actions (and intentions) instead, at different times of day, and aim for quality, not quantity: make sure that users want to stop their scrolling when they see your avatar. Easier said than done? Absolutely, that’s way it takes a lot of ingenuity and creativity.

8. Reach the influencers

To gain fame on a social network, you may need a push from someone who is already a celebrity on that channel. Try to reach the influencers of your niche, follow them, retweet them, mention them commenting their updates, post something that might interest them… in two words, get noticed. A retweet or a link from a twitstar can be worth more than an entire communication campaign, increasing your brand’s followers, impressions, popularity and trust.