Becoming a thought leader and industry influencer on Twitter is a lot easier said than done.

Twitter has changed how personal and business brands engage with their followers and fans. Social media has opened the path to a more personal, sustainable and unfiltered interaction between a brand and its customers or followers.

Twitter, seeking to continuously increase its market share, is inventing and adapting new technology to further their platforms goal of being a prime-time communication hub. As Twitter comes out with more automated and paid features to improve social engagement, exposure, and interaction with its millions of users; it is essential to consider that not all these new tools can build loyalty for smaller brands.

Here are five tips to help build more loyalty with your Twitter fans on a tight budget.

1. Get Personal

The development of new Twitter features that offer automated responses to comments and messages may have made things a lot easier for Twitter account users. However, this has also taken out the personal touch that can promote loyalty with your fans and followers in the long run. To build loyalty, ditch the automated responses and DMs and make personalized tweets, social comments, and actual responses.

According to SocialMediaExaminer, the ideal tweet length is around 110 characters, comprising of a humorous personal tone. It launches your engagement percent by 17 percent overall. Interact with your audience and find ways to bring out who you are. Respond to questions and comments in a fun and personal way. The goal is to give your followers the feeling that a real person is behind your account or brand and not just an automated answering machine.

2. Respond to direct messages

Another effective way to socially engage with your followers is by always finding time to respond to direct messages. Although it is important to learn how to filter out which contain spam and other phishing links, it is essential to find the means to respond to private messages. This gives people the impression that you are open to making new connections not only through your tweets but through private messages as well. People will appreciate your openness and approachability and will help break the ice which leads to lasting connections and an increase in Social Proof. This also shows your followers that you are willing to have actual conversations with them and are not just about broadcasting content. Engaging your audience on a personal level whether by responding to DMs or giving social commentaries gives your followers a preview of who you really are offline – a real person with an actual personality and able to provide interesting thoughts and ideas about relevant topics as well.

3. Be a trusted source of information

As with other social media platforms, your followers turn to Twitter for news, updates, and gossip. By always citing credible sources and sharing useful and helpful content to your followers, you essentially become a trusted and go-to source for the latest events and happenings that are worth sharing to other users as well.

Being a thought leader on Twitter, during the busiest hours according to your Twitter Analytics, can increase engagement by 30 percent or more, according to SocialMediaExaminers. This does wonders for building loyalty with your fan base, building traffic for your account and even getting the nod of other Twitter users as well who may appreciate the source and follow you back. The greatest medium for data is graphical, as evidenced by the whopping 150% increase in engagement that resulted from the same analysis by SocialMediaExaminers. Combine the timing, the graphics, and the leadership qualities to lead the pack with efficiency.

4. Spice up your content

A common mistake for brands on Twitter is to post only nothing else but content specific to themselves and their business. Constant self-promotion does not bode well with Twitter users or just about anyone. No one likes to read about your daily schedule, your current mood or see flooded tweets of nothing but links to products and services you may be endorsing. This is one sure way to quickly lose your audience and sabotage your own marketing efforts.

Instead, add variety to your usual content and use videos to give your Twitter feed a more personalized feel. Post interesting and relevant topics that are worth discussing with your audience. Open the room for a healthy discussion with your fans by asking them about their opinion on pressing social issues. Do not limit your posts to tweets. Posting great pictures and images create more opportunities to interact with your followers. Recommend places, restaurants or movies to your audience. Have fun, and give real advice in personalized tweets. Find ways to bring high-value content that people can actually use in real life. It is all about becoming more personal. Give a shout out to your fans using a personal video to show more of yourself to your audience. Remember that being friendly and more sociable to your followers is the way to go to build long-term loyalty.

5. Earn friendships with your followers

Building loyalty with your Twitter followers can be done by going beyond the confines of Twitter and getting to know your audience on a personal level. This means engaging and interacting with them as if they are more than just your followers but also actual friends. Do away with all the auto-response tools and reach out to your followers personally. Answer questions, respond to feedback and comments and engage with them in actual conversations. By becoming personal and finding a way to connect with your audience, you become more than just your profile photo- you become someone they can actually respond and relate to. You create loyalty and also have the means to sustain it for the long haul.

Learn. Practice. Repeat.

With the emergence of new apps and tools that strive to build new connections and forge new relationships, we mustn’t forget that all this is meant to give people a chance to connect. In the end, remember that Twitter is still a social media platform. You cannot forego being personable with your followers as a means to not only build loyalty but also create a trusted brand that users will respond to for the long term. Make the most of Twitter’s cutting-edge free platform to fully interact with your audience who may just as easily become your customers, clients and partners.

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