I have heard many people say that marketing on Twitter can’t be done.

“It doesn’t work.”

“Usage is declining.”

“I don’t get how it works. It is too confusing!”

“140 characters or less…that’s all you get. I cannot create a great post within those constraints.”

“You either have to be a celebrity, an established brand, or pay to gain exposure.”

But that sentiment is far from the truth! Twitter is just a different animal.

And it shouldn’t be ignored. For one thing, it is great for reach. There are people on Twitter who don’t like to use Facebook. These users love it because they can see you are actually alive. A tweet is not just some thought-out or scheduled post. There’s more spontaneity. They like the human interaction.

Knowing this, I devoted more time to our Twitter account and, in the last three years, was able to grow it from about 160 followers to more than 1,000. It’s helped us gain quite a bit of interest and visibility, and we’ve actually had leads come through the platform – about four in the last year. That might not seem like a lot, but when you’re not paying to advertise on it, when you’re not doing anything except making your presence known, that’s pretty effective.

To market on Twitter, you have to allow your brand to be human, have fun… network. You really have to interact more than on Facebook. Think of Twitter like a giant cocktail party: You have to treat it as such and mingle. You cannot just post pictures of swimming pools and services at certain times of the day and expect potential customers to find you. No well written or carefully designed infographic will give you the keys to the perfect post. This is not an “If you post it, they will like” platform. You have to go to where the people are and say, “Hi! This is my brand, how are you?”

It takes work!

I have put together some helpful tips that I have learned in my years as a social media marketer to help you optimize your Twitter marketing and gain followers and exposure.

Do not make your Twitter account informative only: I have seen so many companies using Twitter to post nothing but industry-related tips, day after day and usually at the same times. Twitter users do not generally use the platform for news and useful tips. Tweeps (as they are generally called) are here for the entertainment value. They love interaction and wit. Don’t just be a road sign! Strike up a conversation.

Interact: Be human. Mingle! Again, think of this as a 24-hour cocktail party/networking event. If you want to grow your brand and exposure on Twitter you have to interact with people. Pick up on general topics and comment. Be witty and be funny. No one wants a stale Uncle Ralph on their TimeLine. A word of warning: Do not engage or comment on matters of religion or politics.

Thank your followers: It only takes a minute at the end of the day to tweet a thank you to new followers. They appreciate the love and the fact that you recognized them. Also, it never hurts to participate in a #FF (Follow Friday). This is a shout out to great tweeps who have something to say. It shows that you are a human behind the account. And believe it or not, people on Twitter love when a company displays a meme or a gif when doing it. They love this more than anything!

Post Pics Often: Make sure to share high-quality pictures, and come up with something catchy to enhance the photo. Also take a little time to make sure your picture is social media worthy. Use a good photo-editing service or app, like Picmonkey.com, to make those images pop.

Use Twitter Advanced Search: To gain followers, you are going to have to follow people first. Unless you are Duane “The Rock” Johnson or Katy Perry, people aren’t just going to flock to you and follow! A great way to start is using Twitter Advanced Search to find people in your immediate area to interact with. It is also a way to find topics pertaining to your business by using specific word searches. Another helpful tip: If you use the advanced search and just narrow down the areas close by, then you will find accounts to follow. This will help increase your popularity regionally.

Do Not Use Facebook to Tweet: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Twitter users generally hate Facebook. There is a connector on Facebook that allows you to share your posts on Twitter. The problem is that you have to leave Twitter and go to Facebook to see the complete post. But Twitter users usually do not want to leave Twitter. You may think it is a time saver but, in reality, it is going to hurt your marketing efforts. If you want something to help save time posting to all of your social media accounts, then I recommend Hootsuite and Buffer. I use these daily to schedule tweets and posts.

Do Not Buy Followers: Of all the advice I’ve offered, this is the most important! Twitter users are savvy. They can spot when you have paid for followers and are trying to make your brand popular. If you are a small pool builder from Lubbock, Texas, and you have 40,000 followers and only follow 30 people, something is completely off. It looks even worse when you have boring daily tweets linked to your Facebook and no likes or retweets. Don’t do it!

There are so many more tips and ideas that can help you in your Twitter marketing. But these tips will provide an assist as you work to build your brand and get your marketing off to a great start. If you feel like you don’t have the time, hand it off to an employee who can. Just set some ground rules. And if you don’t want to do that, look into hiring a professional for your social media marketing. This is an investment into your company’s growth. It shouldn’t be overlooked or ignored.