Have you been feeling lonely on Twitter? With the massive amount of tweets per second, it is easy to feel lost in the crowd. Once you learn some tips and tricks, however, you’ll begin to enjoy the micro-blogging platform for what it is: an awesome place to engage potential customers and to create lasting relationships. Here are 5 easy steps that ought to ensure more Twitter engagement for you, whether you want visitors to read your blog or customers to buy your stuff.

1. Get in Touch

This is going to be easy when you have only a few followers. Thank them for following you, but in a way that doesn’t resemble those automated tweets that ask them to visit your Facebook Page or download something for free from your site. Those sound too impersonal and can’t possibly build relationships. Ask questions about your followers that you’d ask someone you met and was interested in in real life. Once you have too many people following you, keep this approach in mind as something you want to do, then set aside a day of the week to do it. Trust us: it will pay you back handsomely in terms of growing meaningful connections.

2. Be Selfless

Promote others’ tweets. Do this without expecting anything in return. We mean that. When you do something with a good intent, it shows. Depending upon what your agenda is and how you run your business, those people may or may not be able to do unto you exactly what you did for them, but they will want to help you out. Over time, you will build a reputation for being helpful, and your followers will cease to be numbers and frequently try to show you that they are human beings interested in helping you out any way they can. You can also keep a list of the people who engage with you most and name it, say, ‘Extraordinary Followers’ and use a service like Hootsuite to maintain it. However, while doing this may encourage others to be proactive in seeking a chance to join the list, you could also put off some of them. Consider whether you want to keep this list private.

3. Be Selfless Again

This applies to your interactions on all the social networks you have chosen to be active in: don’t be all about yourself. Follow the 80 – 20 rule and make only 20% of your tweets about yourself. Self-promotion is what it is all about, but unless you tweet about things that are helpful and interesting but don’t concern you, people will begin to see you like those unwanted telemarketing calls we try to blacklist. Be social, be interesting and be helpful. Then promote yourself. About the 80 -20 thingy – probably best to use your common sense instead of a calculator!

4. Size Matters

Don’t use up all 140 characters or there will be no room for retweets with your original content intact. Don’t expect people to be so interested in your tweets that they will take the time to edit it to make it shorter and then retweet it. Leave out between 25 and 30 characters – but create them with the intent of grabbing attention. Follow the same rules as when you write engaging headlines to your articles.

5. All in Good Time

Before there were tools available to make the task precise and effortless, we used to advocate tweeting at fixed intervals to catch all your followers who are from different time zones. Let’s clarify: we are not talking about promotional tweets only. All your tweets build your reputation, and timing the promotional ones while being totally negligent about other engaging content that you promote (to gain social acceptance) is not a good idea.

Anyway, a tool like Tweriod can help you know when to tweet to who. Your followers and their time zones are analyzed, and you are presented with data about the hours during which they are the most active on Twitter. You can create your personal lists accordingly to time your tweets. That same Hootsuite (Google for ‘twitting tools‘ or something similar for other tools) can automate the process for you. Load your tweets for a week and set times for them to be tweeted. This takes very little time and effort and makes your life a whole lot simpler.

All you need now is a strategy. For example, what is going to be your niche and how far are you going to stray from it? What kind of ‘helpful‘ tweet are you going to make? Are you going to announce freebies from all over the Web or discount coupons, or maybe paid stuff that are really useful and that you are not an affiliate of? If you consistently ‘help‘ and be ‘interesting’ in a certain way, people might begin to consider you an expert in your niche and engage with you more. These are not rules, really – just things to bear in mind. As you grow your network on Twitter, you will instinctively know what to do. And the five steps that we have outlined for you ought to make it that much easier to begin a successful tweeting journey.