What sort of impact can you have with 140 characters? Apparently you can have a tremendous impact if you happen to send out those 140 characters of text via Twitter. This unique brand of social networking took the world by storm just a few short years ago. MySpace had come and gone, and Facebook dominated the landscape. Then Twitter changed the game with its 140-character updates and terms such as “tweet,” “retweet,” and “hashtag.”

Today there are 227 million Twitter users around the world, according to PC World. The United States represents the largest chunk of the pie, with some 20% of those 227 million active users residing in the US. The social networking site grew at a rate of roughly 24% in 2014, and its user base is expected to continue posting double-digit growth through the year 2018. At that point in time there will be an estimated 400 million active users on Twitter.

With so many interactions taking place today through Twitter, it is beneficial for your company to operate a Twitter account. Unlike Facebook and other sites that offer complex pages and profiles to manage, Twitter is a streamlined means for communication that allows for quick, easy communication between you and your consumers. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the simplest ways for you to gain followers on Twitter.

Create a Good Avatar

Facebook and other social media sites allow you to store and share thousands of photos and videos on your profile page. Twitter doesn’t operate quite the same way. If you want to create a unique and memorable means for attracting followers, create a good avatar. Rather than squeezing a picture of yourself into the small space allowed for a profile photo, create an avatar that is representative of you or your brand.

Keep the image simple and don’t select one that has a lot of figures in the background. Simple pictures of you or your corporate logo will do the trick. Upload an image no larger than 450 x 450 pixels to set as your avatar. This makes it easy for followers to click on your avatar and zoom to enlarge it without creating a pixelated mess in the process.

Tweet During Peak Hours of Activity

If you tweet in the middle of the night and no one reads it, does it exist? The answer is a resounding no. When you send out messages during peak hours of activity by other users, you have the greatest potential to have your message show up in newsfeeds, attract viewers, and garner retweets. The only problem with this approach is the fact that no studies have been conducted to identify an ideal timeframe during the day to send out tweets.

A Washington D.C.-based internet marketing firm found that 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. (EST) see the heaviest traffic on Twitter. The morning timeslot experiences heavy traffic because East Coasters are just getting in to work and delaying the inevitable. At noon, those same employees are checking in during their lunch break and employees on the West Coast are just rolling in to work and participating in the same delaying tactics. The 3 p.m. timeframe represents the afternoon lull on one coast and lunch time on the other. Finally, 6 p.m. is quitting time on the East Coast and the afternoon lull on the West Coast.

Tweet when people are actually wasting time looking around on Twitter and you’re more likely to attract attention and garner new followers.

Ask Questions

Engaging with other Twitter users is one of the best ways to get attention on Twitter and gain more followers. Try sending out a tweet with a question relevant to your product, service, or industry. Posing questions via Twitter gets people talking, creates a buzz around your profile, and can gain new followers if you are part of a strong back-and-forth discussion.

Link to Interesting Sites

Twitter is an effective tool for creating two-way traffic between your social profile and your business website. You can generate interest in your profile by tweeting the link to interesting articles, blog posts, and other content that is relevant to your industry and gets people talking about your company. Likewise, you can use your other offline endeavors to push followers of your blog or visitors on your company website to your Twitter profile.

Find a Niche

Nobody enjoys reading the mundane tweets about your breakfast, your dog’s crazy behavior, or the insanity of your children’s friends during a recent playdate. Tweeting about everyday occurrences in your life might garner attention at first, but in the long run those aren’t valuable followers. Focus your tweets on the information and content that is relevant to your industry and that is closely associated with your brand.

Tweet, and Tweet Again

It might sound counterproductive for us to suggest that you repeat yourself with tweets, but there is a good reason to do so. If you become an avid tweeter and share a lot of information on your site, there is a greater likelihood that followers might miss some of your content. Repeat your best message no more than three times during the day and you’ll ensure that the majority of your current followers see it, and new followers are attracted to your profile.

Link to Other Services

There may be 227 million Twitter users, but there are millions of other individuals using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. If you take a few extra minutes to link your Twitter account to your other social media profiles, you increase the likelihood of those outside the Twitter neighborhood see your profile and follow you for your witty insight and informative posts.

Put in the Time and Be Patient

Finally, we know of few Twitter users who have actually increased their Twitter follower base by hundreds of users in a short period of time. Success in boosting your number of followers takes time and patience. If you work hard to write creative tweets, focus on your niche, and time your tweets just right, you’ll find your follower base growing at a healthy pace.