Twitter can be extremely overwhelming. For many, Twitter just seems like a lot of chatter, unnecessary noise, and drama that no one has time for. For years and years Twitter was all about the vanity stats, however in today’s world, having a good following doesn’t really mean anything. Aside from the aesthetics of having a big number to show, you need to be doing certain things on Twitter to turn all those followers and opportunities into paying customers.

Before we jump into this list, we want to make one thing VERY clear: Twitter is all about having conversations. Chatting. This is not the type of platform where you can be fake and just engage when it suits you. If you’re going to make this work, you need to be ALL IN and truly have the desire to make meaningful connections with your followers.

Here are some tips and actionable ideas that will help you monetize your Twitter following in the long-run, and the focus here isn’t on paid options but organic and creative.

  1. Use Twitter to promote your blog. Do some hashtag research to make sure you’re using the right ones to get in front of your intended audience. There are plenty of Twitter accounts out there that exist solely to promote other people’s blogs, so tagging them will get you lots of additional exposure.
  2. Use the search feature to seek out current conversations happening around what you offer. For example, let’s say you design websites in New York City. You could search for things like “Need website in NYC” or “Good website designers in New York” to find any conversations or questions being asked around your niche. This is your chance to jump into the conversation, or even reach out to the people directly.
  3. Use the search feature to seek out new people to follow, and conversations to engage with around your niche. Make providing value and helping people a priority. With a little digging, you’ll find many conversations happening around your area of expertise. When you have the opportunity, use it to position yourself as an authority and industry expert. People want to do business with people they trust and who bring value, without demanding anything in return. Networking is a big thing in the Twitterverse.
  4. Host a Twitter contest. People love free stuff, and if you can give away something valuable, you’ll be able to attract lots of engagement. Connecting with other businesses or establishments can really up the ante and provide additional exposure.
  5. Help other people manage their Twitter accounts. If you’re confident with your abilities, you can help other people manage their accounts, gain new followers, or even produce guides and tutorials on it. You can get paid for being a Twitter expert.
  6. Don’t forget to actually “sell” your stuff, and yourself, on Twitter. If you know anything about social media, you already know that people don’t use social media to be sold to. They want to consume valuable content. But, if you want to make any money, you’ve got to sneak in a sales pitch somewhere. If you’re hitting the 10-15 tweets per day mark, you won’t be considered spammy if 2-3 are promotional.
  7. Affiliate marketing is a big thing on Twitter these days and a great opportunity to earn cash. You can do it through countless sites and companies, but you want to be careful that you’re advertising and promoting products and services that you believe in, otherwise, it could damage your reputation. There are many reputable options such as iTunes and Groupon Affiliate programs.
  8. Twitter is a great place to run a crowdsourcing or crowdfunding campaign. If you have a new business idea that you need to raise money for, this will be a great place to promote it and you can ask your followers to promote it as well.
  9. Rather than sending each new follower a private message, send them a public thank you! People love that and respond well to it.
  10. Daily deals are a great way to get a boost of engagement. Tweeting daily deals to your loyal followers creates excitement, thus lots of sharing and revenue. For online retailers, this can be extremely effective, particularly when they offer a steep and short-lived discount. This also generates new followers, as people don’t want to miss out on the upcoming flash sales.
  11. Tweeting your location is great when you’re a mobile business. A food truck or even a pop-up shop can generate lots of local buzz when it’s something unexpected. If you have faithful customers who would be interested in knowing your latest location, take advantage of that.
  12. Explore bartering opportunities. Rather than selling something for someone else, you can promote each other. It’s a great way to get your business promoted without spending a cent. Choose a partner wisely though — you want someone with a large number of engaged users, an active account and a good reputation.
  13. Start using Twitter to provide customer service. This is something that is growing in popularity and will dramatically increase your engagement and followers. It might not give you an immediate increase in sales, but people will jump at the opportunity to use Twitter to pose their questions and concerns when they know they’ll get a quick response. This is a long-term strategy that will benefit your company.
  14. Schedule your posts and promotions in advance so you have time each day to invest in engaging and looking for new connections. The more time you spend engaging, the more benefit you will receive from your Twitter followers. You should aim for 10-15 posts each day, so unless you spend your entire day on Twitter, you’ll need to schedule.
  15. Check out automation tools that will help you scale your account with authentic, engaged followers. Here is a great list worth looking into it. But remember — automation will never replace actual engagement. Use it to free up time to allow for more relationship-building time.

The biggest takeaway here is that with Twitter, and pretty much all social media platforms, engagement comes before monetization. You need to be real, and invest the time to connect and build relationships with your followers. Once you do that, you’ll be able to turn those followers into paying customers and brand ambassadors.