There’s no doubt at all that Twitter is one of the most important tools within a business’s use of social media, but it’s still all too apparent that far too many people are misunderstanding Twitter, and failing to get to grips with how to make it work for them, rather than simply working for it.

Posting tweets can often seem to be a time consuming process that achieves relatively little, but with just a few simple changes to the way you use Twitter it is perfectly possible to attract much more attention, rapidly gaining in followers and reputation, allowing you to spread your marketing net further and wider, catching much more fish, as it were.

The two tips I’m going to offer today for how to get found on Twitter are to use hash tags and trending topics. Let me explain. You may have noticed that some words in people’s tweets have a hash symbol (#) preceding them. Including this symbol before a word (without a space between) turns that word into a link, and this works a little like a keyword search.

So, for example, if you see a hash tag such as “#twitter” anyone clicking that link would automatically be shown relevant search results which include the same hash tag. So including a relevant hash tag in your tweets you’re allowing your posts to be found through relevant keyword searches. Otherwise it’s going to be much harder to get found.

The second tip is to pay attention to trending topics. These are hash tags that are being used more widely than any other. So during the Mexico Gulf oil spill when a lot of people were talking about the crisis one of the trending topics was #oilspill, and by including that hash tag in posts people were allowing themselves to be found more easily. Of course, unless your website is all about Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga then many of the trending topics will be irrelevant, but it’s worth keeping an eye on them because by including a trending hash tag you will be much more likely to have people discovering your Twitter page, and perhaps becoming a follower.

By following these two simple pieces of advice you can very quickly find that your profile gets more views, and your followers increase in number, helping you to get Twitter to start working for you more effectively than it may be doing at the moment. It’s worth remembering that Twitter is now officially the fastest growing search engine on the planet, and a great many people are using Twitter to find information, because the results are usually highly relevant and extraordinarily current. But as a search engine Twitter works quite differently from Google or Bing, and to succeed means understanding and applying their own rules and customs.

Using hash tags is just one of those rules, and once you understand that, and start applying it to your own posts, you can quickly find that what may have felt like a fairly redundant and passive social media experience becomes a blossoming market that has the potential to boost your brand image significantly. This said however, don’t overuse hash tags as you could be seen to be ‘spamming.’

It’s also worth remembering that Twitter should be treated as a conversation, (as indeed should a blog), with responses to comments or other posts included, and with questions asked, invitations made and requests posted for other people to share their opinions, thoughts and advice. Nobody likes being lectured or talked at. Treat Twitter as a conversation, start reading and responding rather than just posting, and you may find more people start talking with you, which is another way that your profile can really start to grow.