seems like such a wild, unrefined section of the internet with all its abbreviations and codes. How can a professional company make a home for itself there? Would one be able to retain any semblance of professionalism or would one be forced to adapt to the savage ways of the natives? The answer is that although the general population of Twitter will probably never have impeccable spelling or attitudes, they are still the same consumers  you are trying hard to connect with through every other channel. You don’t have to stoop to their level, but you can’t judge them for being there.

Here are a few suggestions for connecting with the Twitter crowd. Just like with any other social network, it’s not enough to simply create an account and ignore it. You have to log in and spend time on the site and attempt to engage or it’s not going to work (contact a web company that offers social media services like inConcert Web Solutions for assistance with that kind of thing).

Use hashtags. Hashtags are labels for your tweets that create instant links to a feed of relevant Tweets. Just include this pound symbol # (or octothorpe for those who like to be precise) before any string of characters. Use it #likethis without spaces or punctuation. Attaching a label to your tweets will make it more likely for other random Twitter users to see your tweet. If you’re trying to advertise your photography services, consider using tags like #photographer or #photos. Choose a unique tag for group events and ask participating followers to include it in their tweets so you’ll be able to find each message easily.

Search for people who need you. People like to complain. It’s a fact. They just do. Many Twitter users post every little thought that goes through their heads. Find people complaining about needing what you do, and send them a Tweet offering a solution to their problems. For example, if you repair electronics, search for Tweets about broken screens. Instant goldmine. You may not get a response from everybody that you send messages to, but that’s no different than traditional forms of advertising that end up costing a lot more than a few Tweets.

Have irrelevant conversations. Build up relationships with your Twitter followers and comment on things that everyone can relate to, like holidays, the weather, sports, and other non-controversial topics. Avoid topics like politics and religion as those conversations can quickly get out-of-hand. If you know any of your Twitter followers in real life, Tweet at them about your everyday interactions, but make sure you don’t reveal personal information about anyone.

Respond to your feed. A lot of those Tweets might seem like they’re from robots, but you never know. You might be surprised at the responses you get if you just put yourself out there. The more times you make the first move, the more opportunities you have for people to respond to you, even if they are not the original target of your offer. Let’s say you’re Tweeting at @misterbusyman about a special you think he might be able to take advantage of, and @ladyjustasbusy sees your message and thinks “Hey, I could use that offer myself!” Not only are you showcasing yourself as a personal contact instead of an automated robot, but you’ve attracted some business in the process. Way to go!

Ask people to follow you. Ask people in real life, ask people on your Facebook, ask people on your website, ask people on your blog, ask people on the phone. The point is ASK! You are not going to attract a million followers and become an instant success on Twitter just by signing up and posting a few Tweets. Studies show that brands have more success on Twitter when they ask their audience directly to follow them on Twitter (and like them on Facebook, etc). Keep putting your Twitter feed out there and keep focusing on engaging your followers, and your Twitter may reward you for it.