If you use Twitter regularly, you’ll have noticed that they are now pushing users into buying promotional packages. Twitter introduced promoted tweets way back in March 2012 and they have been met with mixed results from users ever since, many find them an annoyance, an invasion into their personal timeline.

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Now Twitter are going the whole hog and offering a number of different variations on the promoted theme and at some point soon you will probably be prompted to try their new options when you log into Twitter, so expect to see more content pushed your way, whether you like it or not.

Don’t forget though, there are thousands of very successful accounts on Twitter, with a large follower base, that have never paid for promotion, so how did they manage it? Here’s some tips.

Good content.

OK, it might be obvious, but the real trick to having a successful Twitter account is by consistently writing clever, informative, original and interesting tweets. Packing maximum sparkle into every 140 characters. We can’t help you here, but bear in mind that all the other steps are essentially useless if all you are promoting is an account that tells people you had toast and orange juice for breakfast this morning. By all means tweet links and media, photos and videos now embed nicely on Twitter, but post things that have genuinely interested you, don’t just repost every popular video you see.

Hashtags.

Use popular hashtags every day, jump on bandwagons, try to add something new to existing memes. You can see on the left of your homepage what topics are trending that day, or dig deeper on Twitter and see what is trending locally. Create your own bespoke hashtags and use them consistently, but don’t overdo it, try and think up four or five that relate specifically to your account and something you tweet about regularly.

Following.

Follow other people, but be selective, don’t just follow every Justin Bieber fan that promises to #followback. What you really want are genuine followers who will occasionally read your tweets. When someone does follow you, thank them and consider following them back if they seem like they would be of interest. Build relationships. Having 100 real followers is better than having 20,000 fake ones who never see what you write or retweet you.

Profile.

Your profile is your chance to make a first impression. Have a good photo that says something about what you are about. If you are a plumber, use a photo where you are holding a tap wrench, it’s that simple. Fill in your bio, keep it positive, short and sweet, don’t try to be too funny, you’ll fail, just be informative, most people make a decision on following based on these few words. It helps to have an identifiable theme, or a one sentence tag-line that sums up what you and your business or account is all about.

Timing.

Here’s the real killer. Timing. When you tweet is more important than what you tweet. Some times are just much, much more likely to get you noticed. Take timezones into account, but just before people go to work and just after they go home are good times, so 8am to 9am and 5pm to 6pm, but the less well known one is 1pm. Always make sure you tweet at 1pm, it’s when many people are finishing their lunch break and will check Twitter one last time before getting back to work. 1pm, the golden time for Tweeting, remember it.

Stick to all of the above and you might, without spending a penny on promotion, find yourself becoming the next big thing on Twitter. Watch out Justin.

[Image via Russ Payne]