Feeling frustrated trying to build a following on Twitter? First off, know that you're not alone. Most business owners understand their customers are online, but all too often, can't figure out how to connect with them.

Why should you care? Eighty-five percent of Twitter users report feeling more connected to a small business after following them, 72 percent say they're more likely to make a purchase and 30 percent are more likely to recommend that business to a friend, according to Twitter's research.

"It's important to remember that every retweet is an opportunity to gain free earned media--and more followers--for your brand," says Russ Laraway, head of small and midsize business at Twitter. "A strong content plan combined with an effective paid strategy is essential to building a high quality follower base on Twitter."

Pro-tips for organic growth.

1. Be visible. "Feature your Twitter @username on your website, marketing materials and in-store (if applicable)--and ask customers to follow you," says Laraway.

2. Give people a reason to follow you. "Add a clear, high quality profile picture, a straightforward Twitter handle, and a profile bio that explains who you are and what you have to offer--whether it's exclusive promotions, tutorials or content."

3. Limit the use of hashtags and usernames. "Keep the focus squarely on your business."

4. Import your email contact list. "Follow and interact with your existing customers on Twitter. Your customers are your brand advocates--and will likely follow you back."

5. Join industry-related conversations. "Add value to them by offering advice or insight from your business. Not only is this is a great way to demonstrate thought leadership, but it can help you connect with others in your field."

6. Connect with influencers through related hashtags. "Do you see a Twitter influencer Tweeting about your brand or industry? Tweet back at them, and add to the conversation. The beauty of Twitter is that it's live, public and conversational--so you can connect with people you wouldn't ordinarily meet otherwise."

7. Create great content that makes users want to follow your brand on Twitter. "Not sure what to tweet? Start with a content calendar to map out your daily week to week."

Pro-tip for paid growth.

By using the "Get Followers" objective on ads.twitter.com, you can extend your message beyond your followers to other interested, engaged users who have the potential to become your brand advocates. You can target by interest, username, keyword, location, and more.

1. Be clear. "In your ad copy, make sure to clearly and concisely explain to users why they should follow your brand."

2. Hone your targeting strategy. "Use the analytics provided within your Twitter Ads dashboard to see which targeting types drive the most followers in real-time. Test different targeting methods and iterate accordingly."

3. Once you've acquired new followers, don't neglect them. "Ask your followers about what content they find most useful--whether it's a first look at new products or features, tips and tutorials or industry news--and then deliver it," says Laraway.