Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms and when you have a strong following, it can help you generate leads, build your brand, increase your traffic and get sales.

Having an active following on Twitter also helps your business look credible and adds to the overall value of your business as well.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend thousands trying to build up your Twitter following, instead with a little time and effort you can build an engaged and responsive following for free.

Here are 22 ways to do so-

1. Following: Statistics have found that the more likely you are to follow others, the more likely they are to follow you back. A correlation between how many people you follow and how many people follow you has also been determined, so get following!

2. Schedule Tweets: There are many great tools out there that will help you schedule your tweets so you can remain active in the community. Some of our favourite platforms include HootSuite, Buffer and SproutSocial.

3. Twiends: Helps you to find new Twitter users and allows you to build connections with similar users in order to gain more followers. Once you are listed on the platform, other users will also be able to find and follow you.

4. Twitter Bio: Having an up to date Twitter biography will help others to know a little bit about you and will also make you look more professional. Try to have your biography sound unique, personable but also professional.

5. Links: Research has found that Tweets that use links get more retweets and favourites than ones that don’t share a link, but me mindful of spamming your own content. Quality is key.

6. Reply: Spend time replying to other people’s tweets that seem relevant to your brand or business, this way you are more likely to gain them as a follower.

7. Hashtags: Tweets that use hashtags receive two times the engagement than tweets without. Using hashtags helps users to find your content and allows your tweets to be seen by a wider audience.

8. Keywords: Use relevant keywords in your biography so you can rank on other search engines and on Twitter’s search page. Also make sure to include your location so you can also rank for that as well.

9. Ask for RT’s: Believe it or not, tweets that ask for retweets get four times the number of retweets. Just goes to show, it always pays to ask.

10. Contacts: Upload your contacts to Twitter in order to reach out to people that you already know. People who have met you in real life are always more willing to follow you.

11. Images: Statistics have found that images receive 18 percent more engagement than tweets with just text. Use images where appropriate to help boost your following and your engagement.

12. Promotion: Let your customers and clients know that you are on Twitter by promoting your username on your business cards, brochures, main website and more.

13. Timing: Twitter activity spikes on the weekends and in the afternoons between 1-3pm. Tweet on the weekend and in the afternoon to take advantage of this trend. In fact one study found that brands receive 17 percent more engagement from their tweets over the weekend when compared to during the week.

14. Reference: When you quote or take an article from another site, throw them a mention in order to engage with them and attract those that are also following your mention.

15. Trends: Every few hours Twitter updates a list of trending hashtags and phrases. Take advantage of these trends by finding ways to use these hashtags in your tweets. This way you can reach a bigger audience and hopefully get more followers.

16. Frequency: One of the most common reasons people get unfollowed on Twitter is that they tweet too many times in a short period. Instead of tweeting all at once, spread out your tweets so there is at least one hour between each.

17. Retweet: This shows that you are not only willing to share other people’s content but it also helps to expand your audience and gain more followers. Basically, the more you retweet, the more other people will also retweet you.

18. Ask Questions: Asking a question on Twitter helps to keep your audience engaged and the more people that reply, the more your tweet will be shared and seen.

19. News: Sharing news is one of the most retweeted types of content. Find ways to integrate sharing relevant, daily news with your following.

20. Coupons: All followers love to feel special, why not offer them a ‘Twitter’ only exclusive coupon code for one of your products or services? This helps to keep fans engaged and helps them to stay long-time followers. If that is not enough, know that 94 percent of Twitter users follow brands purely to get discounts and promotional codes.

21. You not I: Research has found that tweets that are purely about yourself are less retweeted, so try to talk about others instead.

22. Popular Words: The most popular words that will get you a retweet include ‘you’, ‘twitter’, ‘please’ and ‘retweet’. The least popular are- ‘game’, ‘going’, ‘haha’ and ‘lol’.

If your marketing budget is tight, why not take advantage of these free strategies and see how you can grow your Twitter following.