Twitter is a rich platform for social media marketing.  You can create engagement, boost your influence, promote your brand, and increase social lead generation and conversion on the popular social network.  Be careful not to make the mistake of over-automating your Twitter presence with “salesy” spam and fail to authentically engage your audience though.  First and foremost, your focus should be sharing captivating, highly relevant and valuable content, while showcasing your industry influence and in-depth thought leadership.  Consistently offer value, follow Twitter best practices, and your influence and social lead generation will rise.

Optimize Your Professional Profile

Clearly define your target audience so that you can tailor your profile to the unique interests of the followers you want to attract.  Consider the impression you want to make and the actions you would like to incite in your followers, which will help you optimize your profile as well as the content you create and curate for Twitter.  Your profile should be visually striking, while clearly displaying your identity and why you are worth following.  The elements of an effective Twitter profile include: a captivating cover image, a professional-looking profile photo in which you are easily recognizable, a relevant and discriptive bio, and a customized background, which features your brand.

Tweet a Lot

The best way to increase your following and build influence is to frequently share great content with relevant hashtags.  Tweet the content you create and industry-leading content created by others, and tweet the content more than once.  Installing a Chrome extension, such as Hootsuite’s Hootlet, can help you tweet or schedule content as you find it.  Since your Twitter prospects are most active on Twitter at varying times of day and may be in multiple time zones, you need to schedule tweets for all hours of the day to reach a wider audience interested in the content you share.  If you are ambitious about growing your Twitter following, try tweeting relevant, high-value content once every hour—around the clock.

Curate Great Content

It is vital to find content to share that will be highly valuable to your followers and target audience.  There are a multitude of tools to help you discover the right content, including the revamped Klout, Topsy, SocialEars, LinkedIn Pulse, StumbleUpon, and respected niche websites like Social Media Today.  The best types of content to share on Twitter include blog posts, long-form content, infographics, webinars and SlideShare presentations—really anything that will be of value to your audience.  Leverage the power of visual appeal by incorporating eye-catching images into some of your tweets.

Follow to Be Followed

Follow industry thought leaders and prospects who would likely be interested in your products or services.  Many will follow you back, and you may discover dedicated followers, who frequently retweet and favorite your tweets and share your original content—thus amplifying your reach across Twitter.

Leverage Newsjacking

You can magnify the impact of your Twitter presence by newsjacking major events and trending news stories.  Oreo’s real-time marketing related to the Super Bowl blackout last year is a popular example of winning newsjacking, which created a whirlwind of social media activity and a bright a spotlight on the brand.  Events that capture the attention of a mass audience, such as the Super Bowl or the Olympic Games, are special opportunities for you to reach a much larger-than-normal captive audience.

Who knows exactly what the next standout social media moment will be for the Olympics?  Watch and listen carefully, so you do not miss a chance for strategic social media engagement.  Be a part of the social media discourse.  Clever participation could win you more followers, enhanced brand recognition, increased website traffic and even new social leads.  Sharing highly relevant, real-time, original content could have an even bigger upside during the Olympics.  There a many hashtags related to the Olympic Games, including #Sochi2014 and #TeamUSA.  Be creative, while also using your best judgment and adhering to professional standards.  Social media mishaps have the potential to cast a long-lasting shadow on your brand.

Twitter is a major player in social business; the social network can be a great marketing asset.  Social media changes rapidly, so stay on top of best practices to rise above your competition.  Use Twitter strategically as part of a complete inbound marketing plan to help you attain your social media and global marketing objectives.