Twitter continues to be a relevant and thriving social network thanks to its large active user base and its continually evolving features.

The larger the network becomes, the more opportunities there will be to connect with your audience, but the harder it will be to stand out from the crowd and actually make that connection.

As the site evolves, your strategy for the platform also needs to evolve. Here are some easy but effective ways to increase engagement on Twitter:

Include Visuals

Twitter isn’t known for being a visual medium – and that’s exactly the reason why using visuals helps you stand out on the platform.

The right picture can grab attention and add so much more to your simple tweet. You can even use a picture to tweet out much more than the 140-character limit allows.

Twitter now allows you to create a photo collage with four images in a single picture, which gives you even more opportunities to make an impact.

Other visual options include infographics, gifs and even video. With the shortened URL that Twitter now uses for these visuals, you can share them freely without worrying about them cutting in on your precious character count.

Create Polls

A sure way to create user engagement is to create a poll. Surveys and polls require engagement by their very nature.

Twitter makes it easy to conduct a poll with a special poll feature. You don’t have to count up the replies or mentions that you get just by posting a question. Instead, you can select the poll option, and you can see in real time the percentage of the answers you get.

The poll feature allows you to include four possible answers, with 25 characters for each answer. The characters for the answers do not count toward the 140-character total.

There is no limit on the number of responses you can receive, and all responses are anonymous. The anonymity encourages more participation since users won’t worry about others identifying their answers. It also allows them to be honest.

Tweet Often

Think about how you feel when you text someone.

When the person texts you right back, you are likely to text a response quickly, as well. Soon, you have a nice back and forth that feels like a conversation in person.

On the other hand, if someone takes three hours to respond to your casual text, all the momentum is lost, and you might not choose to reply at all. If you do, your reply will probably be noncommittal and uninteresting.

The same is true of your tweeting.

If you only send out intermittent tweets, your audience isn’t likely to feel engaged. However, if you are tweeting often and responding to followers when they reply, you will make it feel like you are having a conversation and your followers will feel engaged.

Make sure you are sending out some tweets in real time to encourage that conversational feel. Send out a tweet about what you are doing, where you are, or thoughts you’ve just had, for example.

Just don’t let those real-time tweets take over your feed. You don’t want your feed to start reading like your diary.

Retweet Yourself

You’ve had some pretty great tweets along the way. You’ve been funny, clever, and insightful. Why not remind your followers of that?

There’s no need to let some great tweets fall into anonymity.

Twitter now lets you retweet your own tweets. Use that feature to remind your followers of some of your best moments, just like you would share your older blog content on your social media.

Just limit how frequently you do it or you may look a little vain. You might also make your followers think that you don’t have anything new to say.

Allow Direct Messages

As an individual, turning off the ability for just anyone to direct message you is a great feature that allows you to shield yourself from spam.

As a business, you want people to be able to contact you. Therefore, you should make the appropriate changes in your settings.

Some people may want to contact you to ask more about your products and services, to get a quote, or to settle a customer service issue. But they may not already be your follower when they need to contact you, and having that ability to message turned off will give them the impression that you don’t care about making that contact.

Making it easier for everyone to contact you will impress your customers and show them that you care about their concerns. It will encourage them to follow you on Twitter and to participate more actively in other ways with your brand.

There are many other great ways to encourage more user engagement on Twitter, but these are just a few of the things you can do to make the most impact right away. Stay a part of the conversation and keep evolving your strategy as needed to get the most out of the platform.