South Africa has about a tenth of those active accounts, with 2.85 million — a relatively small but vocal audience that can be harnessed to a brand's benefit if approached strategically.

Here are 20 tips for brands and individuals on how to optimise their Twitter accounts:

1. Tweet regularly
If you want to entrench an influential presence on Twitter and gain a decent following, you need to tweet often — at least once a day and ideally more often.

2. Tweet authentic content that is relevant to you or your brand
Remember your brand's personality — playful or serious, for example — and stick to that tone when tweeting. Select content strategically to suit your brand or business purpose.

3. Use pictures
Twitter — like Instagram — is a very visual medium, and one or more images should accompany all tweets. Plus, you can tag up to 10 accounts in photos, extending the potential reach of your posts and getting conversations going.

4. Don't bother (much) about video
While some video ads and viral videos might hit the mark on Twitter, for the most part, video content fares poorly on this platform — and you can't (yet) tag other accounts on videos.

5. Take note of trending hashtags
Up to 60% of a brand's social media content should be planned, but leave space for unplanned or 'tactical' content — monitoring trending hashtags and joining topical conversations where relevant. 

6. Find and converse with people on Twitter
Seek out accounts that mirror your interests (or tie in with your business's activities) and join relevant conversations. Twitter chats are great for initiating conversations with like-minded brands and individuals and positioning yourself as an influencer in a particular sphere.

7. Connect via direct message
Are you struggling to get hold of someone? Pop them a DM (direct message). They'll respond if they check their Twitter notifications regularly.

8. Use Twitter analytics to ascertain your progress
Twitter has some great free analytics tools to help you determine which tweets are faring best and to get a handy overview of how your account is performing overall.

9. Proactively follow exciting people
Follow high-profile personalities and accounts that correlate with your interests and those of your business. Who knows, they might follow you back!

10. Respond when people @mention you
It's courteous to respond with a comment, a retweet or a like if people tag you in their tweets — unless it's in a negative context. In this case, you should divert the conversation to DMs. For outright racist or sexist comments, block the troll.

11. Use Twitter polls and ask questions
Twitter thrives on engagement, so use Twitter polls to ask simple questions of your followers. The votes are a great way to encourage interaction, especially with playful topics.

12. Come up with a hashtag for campaigns
Devise a short, simple and punchy hashtag for each campaign so its performance is easily trackable. Check to ensure the hashtag is unique so your results are campaign-specific.

13. Use Twitter threads for long-form content
Got more to say than 280 characters will allow? Use a Twitter thread — a series of subsequent tweets on the same post — to delve into a topic in more detail and depth.

14. Compile a content plan
Plan your Twitter content each month, making provision for ad hoc or tactical posts. Devise content pillars to keep the mix lively, exciting and engaging for your followers while enhancing and promoting your brand.

15. Use defined hashtags for days of the week
People often think of Twitter as an opposing platform, but it's home to a lot of love, kindness and smiles too. Tap into day-specific hashtags such as '#MotivationMonday', '#ThrowbackThursday', '#FriYay' and even '#Caturday' to harness those positive vibes.

16. Use Twitter ads sparingly
Unless you have deep enough pockets to do a Twitter buyout for the day's trend, don't waste your advertising budget on Twitter ads. In our experience, they seldom work. Instead, put your digital spending behind other platforms.

17. Never tweet when drunk or angry
This might seem obvious, but remember that Twitter is a public platform, and reputations can be easily destroyed with just a single ill-conceived tweet.

18. Don't be afraid to block people
If you're being trolled, don't waste any time — block, block, block! You can also mute certain accounts and words for a more pleasant and less anxiety-inducing Twitter timeline.

19. Create branded hashtags
If you have a particular offering you'd like to promote, create a branded hashtag for it. That way, interested people can easily find what they're looking for simply by searching for it on Twitter.

20. Follow people back
Unless you are Elon Musk or King Charles III (and can therefore afford to ignore the plebs), this rule applies: If people follow you, follow them back. It's a sign of courtesy and respect. Of course, if it's very obviously a bot or fake account, ignore it.

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