With half a billion Tweets sent daily, Twitter represents the pulse of the web at any moment in time. For brands, this means taking advantage of Twitter's changing capabilities is essential to creating a lasting brand presence online, gaining new followers, and increasing conversions.

Today, Twitter is known for its sharing capacities and strong relationship with search engines, but it hasn't always been that way. In fact, just a few years ago, tweets were fun to share between friends, but they didn't make an impact on search engine results. If businesses attempted to capitalize on the use of Twitter to improve page rankings during that time, it did little to no good.

Recently, Twitter took steps to change that. It changed its policy to allow top search engines, such as Google, direct access to its tweets. This change will not only help Twitter users find tweets and tweeters easier, but it will also help businesses to use Twitter to improve search rankings.

Twitter has also taken steps to improve their overall website for users. To improve their website, Twitter took some great user-friendly features from Facebook. These enhanced features include the ability to post video, direct message other tweeters, and streamline the advertisements that make Twitter free.

Each of these changes has made Twitter more user-friendly than ever, and those changes in combination with the new search engine policies have not gone unnoticed when it comes to rankings. Businesses of all kinds would be wise to capitalize on the use of Twitter to both boost their brand and improve their search rankings. Here are some strategies to help make that happen.

Keep up the Basics

If you want to develop a solid Twitter profile, you should keep it simple and remember the basics. Twitter allows you to pin a tweet to the top of your profile. It remains there until you change it, and it's the first thing users see when they visit your profile. Use that feature and make it good! It needs to show off your brand and gain trust from visitors.

Also, regularly share deals, coupons, and freebies that your company is offering, and avoid the Twitter validation system. People like to keep things simple, and a validation system requires people to follow you. Many are likely to skip this step, which means you'll lose out on those profile visits.

Stick with Quality Content

Your users and followers need to find value in the content you post, otherwise, it's useless. Think seriously about your audience and what they would like to see you posting before you do anything. Most people prefer how-to content, and that content can eventually lead viewers to something you offer. For example, if you are a landscaping company and share an article about how good landscaping increases property value, a reader is more likely to enlist your services, due to convenience.

Network

Twitter is one of the best social media platforms for building relationships with others. Public Relations Expert Eric Fischgrund of FischTank notes that "as a business, you want to network with those on Twitter who have the power to influence others in your niche. To do that, engage with their profile, build a relationship by sharing their tweets, joining discussions, and participating in their content." Those you engage with are likely to do the same for you. This relationship will help establish your credibility and broaden your network.

Utilize Imaging

People are extremely visual, and that can be a huge advantage for brand imprinting if done correctly. You don't want to simply flash a photo of your brand every single day; that'll annoy your followers. Instead, create infographics, memes, and other images that directly relate to your business. Make sure that your brand is cleverly placed in the bottom right corner where viewers are likely to see and remember it. Also, take advantage of Twitter's new video capabilities. Tweet out these visual message regularly to attract customers.

Create User Engagement

It's not enough to simply tweet about your business or relevant topics. You need to create user engagement in order to gain followers. At least once a week, tweet something that people can participate in. Offer a prize or discount to the winner. Examples of popular ways to engage followers would be posting a weekly riddle or trivia question, asking followers to tweet a specific picture of something, or asking a casual question and engaging with those who respond.

Be Available

Perhaps the most important step of all is to establish a presence on Twitter by being available. Let your followers know that you'll be there to answer any questions and respond to any other social media activities you have going. Only spending five minutes a day on Twitter to send a tweet is not enough to gain followers and establish a brand. Your social media representatives need to have the Twitter page open constantly so they can respond quickly and stay engaged with followers throughout the day. A sure and trusted presence is an excellent way to build your brand.

Published on: Mar 16, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.