Twitter is fast becoming another contender for the B2B social media marketing space. A recent study by Compete found that Twitter users visit B2B brand sites at a higher rate (59%) compared to average Internet users (40%), illustrating the strong presence of a B2B audience on Twitter. This makes a strong case for regularly broadcasting and Tweeting to your audience.

In a previous post we discussed how Twitter can be used effectively when hosting Twitter Chat. Having an editorial calendar for your tweets is also another great way to manage your voice on the channel. But Tweeting isn’t enough: you need a strategy for acquiring followers on an ongoing basis. There are several tactics you can do to ensue that you receive a steady stream of followers to your Twitter presence.

Put on a happy face with your profile

First impressions really do count. Just as your would take the time to be presentable to people you would meet at a face to face networking event, so too must you groom your Twitter profile. Make sure your description, link, and especially your photo are all professional representations of you and your business brand.

Studies have shown that people tend to gravitate towards picture of people rather than logos, so if at all possible, make sure your Twitter “avatar” is a professional-looking picture of you, that it is size appropriately to the avatar size. Also, be sure your photo is square, as Twitter will distort the picture otherwise. Ideally, the picture should just be of your face, as the dimensions are rather small.

Follow you, follow me

It isn’t enough to simply want people to follow you. The easiest way to get followers is to follow people yourself. It sounds like a no-brainer, but do you have any idea how often this part of the equation is left out?

Think about it: when someone follows you, the first thing you do is to go take a look at their profile. So, if your profile is compelling, your picture is professional, and you have some interesting hashtags, it seems natural that those you follow will want to follow you back. We make it a general rule of thumb, when we are learning about our prospects or even our existing clients, to follow them on social media channels, including Twitter.

Sometime finding people to follow can be a challenge. Some people like the tool tweepi to manage this process. In terms of a directory, I would opt for Twellow and start there. But, if you are using a post scheduling tool like Hootsuite, I would follow people who follow your followers (can you follow that logic) as well as influencers by hashtag or keyword.

It’s all about the hashtags

As mentioned in previous posts hashtags are the bread and butter of what makes Twitter go around These keywords wrapped in a number sign are the core of how people can search and follow topics of interest, and, ultimately your brand. But there is an etiquette to using hashtags.

Choose your hashtags wisely, and make sure you don’t use too many in a tweet, nor make the hashtags too specific. A general guide is two or three at the very most in a tweet.

Don’t make your Twitter presence a secret

It isn’t enough to have your social media accounts. You have to promote them. Make sure your Twitter profile link is in your email signature. Some people use text based links (“follow me on Twitter”) while other get fancy and use the social media icons with links. However you do it, it is a must have to promote your presence on Twitter.

To tweet and retweet

Never be afraid to ask for retweets. A study by SocialCode found that 43 times more retweets occur simply by asking people to do so. It is always a great practice to add call to action to your tweets, so why not let it be a request to retweet?

Increasing your followers has to be more than a “wait and see” approach to your presence. You must actively be campaigning for more followers, just as politicians actively campaign for votes. I can’t think of a single politician that won the race by simply talking, can you?