In today’s social media landscape, Twitter is king. Twitter is an addictive way of sharing one’s thoughts and invaluable tool for bloggers and organizations with good content seeking new audiences. There are 600 million searches on Twitter each day—more than Yahoo and Bing combined. However, this also means that most tweets get lost in the endless void of the Twitter-verse. The art of writing tweets with viral potential can help you rise above and grow an audience organically while staying relevant and connected with them. Here are four tips for more effective tweets:

1. Use Hashtags and Trends

In an average day, there are 350 million tweets sent per day, with 750 tweets being shared per second. In order to organize the chaos and make tweets more searchable, many tweeters use hashtags—a unique form of organization created and managed by Twitter (and now Facebook) users. The top 10 most popular hashtags (and even proper nouns) are listed in the “Trends” section of your Twitter interface, but by checking the “Discover” tab, you can search for active, existing trends that align with your content. Try to include one or two relevant and timely hashtags in your tweets, but don’t overdo it and always make sure that the tweet is still easy to read.

2. Make Friends

As you begin to connect with your audience, remember that social media is just that—social. Without including and engaging others, Twitter becomes a wasteland of links: in fact, 71% of tweets receive no reaction—replies, retweets, or even favorites—whatsoever. But the odds of getting a reaction increase dramatically just by mentioning another tweeter. Establishing a presence in a certain group or niche takes a dedicated effort and a willingness to have a collaborate. Keep in mind that if you keep your tweet under 120 characters, your followers can add RT @YourHandle in front of the tweet. Once you have some captive followers, try to spark more interaction within your tweet by asking questions or providing interesting facts, news, and conversation starters.

3. Smarter Searches

When composing a tweet, remember that Twitter is a search engine. Using Google Analytics or a similar tool to research popular search terms in your niche is a good way to reach larger potential audiences. Approximately 42 characters are factored into each tweet’s title tag, including the account name, as well as the initial characters of each tweet. From a creative standpoint, think of your tweet as a headline in a newspaper—something that catches the reader’s eye and makes them want to learn more. Using a URL shortener such as Bit.ly also makes your tweets shorter, sweeter, and more engaging.

4. Timing is Everything

The average lifespan of a tweet is less than one hour. After that, the chances of getting a reply or a retweet are nearly nonexistent. However, you can use this to your advantage by using Buffer or another automated tweet scheduling application to tweet at optimum hours for your audience, to reach demographics outside of your location and timezone (some companies even try different languages, though English is by far the most common language on Twitter), and to free yourself to focus more on your content. 25% of all users check Twitter periodically throughout the day, but 10-11pm (local time) is generally the most Twitter-active period of the day.

By using these tips and tricks, not only will you gain followers on Twitter—you will also increase traffic to your site or blog and your readers will become more engaged and more likely to share your content. Though Twitter is dominated by “elite” tweeters, such as celebrities and short-lived viral sensations, it is still one of the best free marketing tools available. And with the right tweet, you never know who will find you.

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Featured photo credit: SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DEC 9: Twitter changes to online and mobile versions of the microblogging site and a simplified design to make it easier to connect with others on Dec 9, 2011 in San Fransisco, CA via Shutterstock

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