I’m a massive advocate of Twitter. I’ve built relationships, business and tons of engagement. And yet I feel like a lot of the fundamentals are lost as people approach such an incredible network. I do believe we will all see changes on Twitter, but for now the dominance is becoming hard to ignore. The communications giant recently boasted a staggering 173 billion timeline views over 2nd QT 2014 alone. In addition, a recent Twitter.com poll indicated that 85% of users say that they feel more connected to a business after they begin following them. Which can easily translate with more site traffic and sales.

But breaking through the online chatter can definitely be a challenge for brands looking to stay relevant online on this often misunderstood network. That’s why I’m taking time out to focus on some key fundamental strategies that you need to embrace in 2015 and beyond.

EasyEmbedTwitterFirst Impressions Count

47% of Twitter users who follow a business are more likely to visit their website. So making a great first impression is essential. This means using an updated company logo along with an appropriate background image. Your bio must be catchy yet informational. Synergy is key here. Does your online presence match your carefully, cultivated image offline? Twitter followers will notice if it doesn’t.

Stay on Trend

As you many know, Twitter enables its users to stay atop relevant issues via its customizable “Trends” section. This feature regularly displays trends that is tailored based on a user’s location and the people he or she follows. Utilizing these topics, if done correctly, can give companies a much needed boost in visibility. However, it’s important for social media managers to carefully research the topic to ensure that it is an appropriate one to market your business with.

Show Your Users What You’re Working With

Sure, text-based updates should be interesting. But if you really want to make your tweets stand out, consider using embedded pictures and videos. Not only will this possibly generate more clicks. But it can also make a greater impression if the pictures are of good quality and drive home the point that your text-based tweet is making.

Be Engaging

As social networks goes, Twitter is particularly fast-paced one. Which is why it is important for businesses to stand out with engaging content. Finding the right type of content, however, is the real challenge. I recommend testing different types of material in order to find the best performers for your audience. And timing counts too. Which is why the most engaging Twitter brands know when to send their message for maximum impact.

Interact with Influencers

Brands should look to interact regularly with influencers, as these accounts tend to have a strong following of their own. Not only can they amplify your message with a simple retweet, but they can have a substantial effect on growing your followers. Luckily, there are lots of tools available (such as Klout or Little Bird) that can help identify them.

Promote your Twitter handle

Obviously, this is a very simple concept. But it’s one that is most often overlooked by companies. Staying relevant means including “Follow” buttons on everything from websites to newsletters. The most successful brands know that their Twitter handle is one of their most important marketing assets. And active promotion is one of the best ways to let others learn that fact as well.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Twitter can be one of the most important marketing tools at your disposal if utilized correctly. Brand managers must be aware of how content and timing is crucial to making a raving fans of their followers.