I get a lot of people asking me whether Twitter can truly generate leads. The answer is that, yes, it can. As with anything however, it is dependent on many factors, all of which need to be ‘right’.

Let’s quickly overview these areas. Firstly, choose a suitable, findable Twitter handle. Seems obvious enough, but make sure it’s recognisable and presents a clear link to your Business – choosing your company name is an obvious solution. Make sure it doesn’t appear “spammy” i.e. avoid using random, irrelevant numbers.

Next utilise all of the profile information that Twitter makes visible. Complete the bio section with meaningful, useful information that describes who you are, what you do, what you’ll tweet about, and if you have any space left, why you’re worth following. This is tricky because it’s only 160 words, so make sure it’s clear and straight to the point.

Upload a customised Twitter background, which can feature the company logo, slogans, images, social media links, addresses and so on. Don’t underestimate the importance of page customisation, as these are sources of information that the visitor will call upon to determine who the account belongs to, and whether or not they should follow you.

Data from Mediabistro shows that tweets between 120-130 characters in length, with a URL placed a quarter of the way through the tweet, typically achieve the highest rate of click throughs. Additionally the data suggests that Tweets with verbs typically generate more clicks than Tweets containing nouns.

Next, it appears from various sources that, for purposes of SEO, both quantity and ‘quality’ of followers is crucial. Indeed major search engines revealed that their algorithms look at both of these figures for ranking. Therefore, start following ‘quality’, or rather, highly subscribed to users, and start posting relevant, interesting tweets in the hope that they’ll follow back.

Interact with your followers! A survey from InboxQ revealed that users who had their questions answered by brands via Twitter were nearly 65% more likely to purchase from them. Therefore respond to users’/customers’/prospects’ questions whenever possible.

Research has shown that approximately 15 to 24 tweets per day is the optimum number to increase your following. Sounds a lot doesn’t it. Remember also that although tweets typically have a small exposure time on your followers’ twitter feeds, you don’t want to come across as a spammer to them. It’s essential that your tweets are quality and not quantity.

Use hashtags (#). These are good for increasing the discoverability of your tweets in the Twitter universe. Essentially they’re searchable keywords which can help categorise your tweet. From a business perspective, they’re also useful for creating campaigns over Twitter, that if successful enough can be seen to be ‘trending’ across Twitter.

Finally, and most importantly – make sure your tweets are ‘good’. What does this mean? To answer this, think about who your audience really are, what they’re interested in, what they want to hear and what your goals are for doing this. Don’t do ‘sales’ tweets. No one wants to read these, and if they do, they won’t want to constantly read them – think annoying, repetitive adverts!

Instead, tweet about industry news, best practice, and other topical stories that you feel might appeal to your audience demographic. In other words, be prepared to share and give away a lot of best practice in order to build your brand, whilst subtly looking for opportunities to weave in mentions of your products/services.