Twitter seems like an easy platform when you look at it from the outside, but if you've tried to gain a foothold and build a following, you know it can often seem like talking to a brick wall. Yet it has to be possible; not all the influencers out there were users in the early days. Some have built themselves up in the years since, and they continue to find success. The way these power users utilize the platform to their ends gives a hint of how to succeed. I've gleaned some tips and hope they'll be of some use to you.

Post at the right times.

You've heard this advice everywhere, and that just goes to show how good it is. People use Twitter at specific times during the day. In large groups, tracking those active hours show peaks and surges around certain times: commutes, lunch hours, postwork breaks, midafternoon procrastination; there are a ton of reasons for it.

The point where I differ is I'm not going to tell you specifically when you should post. Every audience has different average peak hours, so what you need to do is measure those peaks. You can do this using apps like Tweriod or SocialBro, which has a "best time to tweet" report. Other Twitter apps have similar features, so check with the apps you like before adopting a new one out of the blue.

Appeal to mobile users.

Twitter was designed as a mobile platform and expanded to desktops only after it achieved some success. It has evolved in leaps and bounds since then, but the core audience is still focused on mobile. Over 63 percent of Twitter users access the network via mobile devices, generally the Twitter app.

This means you need to appeal to mobile users. Twitter itself is just fine at conveying your tweets, but you need to concern yourself with other aspects. Make sure images you share are usable on a mobile device -- no tiny text or details -- and that any site you link to, including your own, has a responsive design for mobile users.

Want retweets? Just ask.

If you want a message to reach a wider audience, you want people to retweet it so their followers see it. There are a number of techniques to try to entice those retweets, but the best? Just ask for it.

When you say "please RT" or something of the sort, you're on average going to get 12x more retweets than you would on a tweet without the ask. If you expand it to "please retweet," that number shoots up to 23x. It's astonishing how effective it is just asking for the engagement you want.

Include actionable vocabulary.

Believe it or not, people like being told what to do. When you use action words in your tweets, you help guide your audience into doing what you want them to do. That's why asking for retweets works, but it extends to anything else.

Don't say "you can enter our contest here," say "come enter our contest here."

Don't say "our new ebook can be found on Amazon," say "download our new ebook here."

Including these subtle directives -- based in the value you're providing people, of course -- gives you a commanding presence and makes people feel the urge to do as you say. It works best when they get something out of it, but once you've built up enough authority, you can really get away with anything.

Front-load links.

Back in 2011, Dan Zarrella ran an analysis of 200,000 tweets containing links, to figure out where in those tweets the links were placed, and how much engagement those tweets received. What he found was that, while there was naturally a spike at the end where most people dump their links, tweets with links in the first third of the tweet performed extremely well.

The data hasn't changed much in the years since. Dumping a link at the end of a tweet leaves it out to dry between the tweet itself and the surrounding content, but front-loading it gives you a lot of extra visibility. If you can phrase your tweet to include a link early, go for it.

There's a lot more to Twitter than just these tips, of course. I can't teach you to be an expert in two minutes. I can, however, get you on the right track.

Published on: Jan 27, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.