Social Media is all about relationships. Some people seem to think it’s about a relationship with themselves, but that defeats the very meaning of “social”. Brands sometimes think it’s the perfect place to promote their product. Wrong again! Social Media is about being social – it’s an interaction between people. You don’t post something just for yourself or your company. You post it so that someone will respond to you and hopefully carry on a conversation.

All the social platforms have their merits, but I’ve discovered this past year that Twitter is where I can really be social. Granted, 140 characters (less if you include a link or image) can seem limiting. But it forces you to be creative and shorter sentences mean the conversation can be longer – because we always have more we want to say, right?

Let’s take a look at four ways you can build relationships on Twitter:

1. Take the follow a step further.

Don’t just stop at just following someone on Twitter. Try to make it personal. Move beyond the handshake and hello to a conversation. It only takes a few minutes of your time.

Go to their Twitter account and read their bio. Read the “tweets and replies” on their feed. Go to their or blog if they posted a link. As you find out more about them, you’ll find connection points.

You may find that they work in the same industry as you. They may have similar interests. And at the very least you can always talk about the weather. I tend to follow someone back as soon as I see that they’re a coffee addict. I love coffee and I feel an instant connection, and they will too if you use that as a jumping off point for a conversation.

2. Add some value to that link.

It’s easy to just tweet a link from an article or retweet one someone else has shared. But it doesn’t add value for your followers. What will entice them to click on that link and share it?

You can use Twitters “quote tweet” function to add a comment to a retweet. Curating is another way to add value and pique interest in the links you’re sharing. I like to use Meddle for this. I can highlight a portion of the article I’m reading as a quote and then add my own thoughts on it. Once that’s done I just choose where to share it: LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

3. Get active on the playground.

I’m talking about becoming part of a community. Twitter chats are the communities you will find in this space and there are hundreds of them on every topic imaginable.

I started attending chats a year ago and they transformed Twitter for me. I became a part of many communities with a core group of participants who went to many of the same chats I did. These fellow chatters have become friends and we support and applaud each other on Twitter and beyond.

4. Tie a string around your finger.

Way back in time, people would tie a string around their finger to remember something. They did this because they didn’t have what they needed to write it down. Of course, then they had to remember why they did this in the first place!

In today’s digital world it’s so much easier. I will often take out my phone and write a note or send myself an email if I need to remember something for later. The same thing holds true for your Twitter connections. You need a way to remember to engage with your followers. There are some you want to contact once a week or more, others once a month or less.

You can do this in a variety of ways. You could start an Excel or Google spreadsheet. You could use Twitter lists to sort your followers. You can also use a social CRM. I like to use Nimble, but there are several options out there. These are solutions that will help you keep track of those you want to consistently stay in touch with.

So there you have it! Use Twitter to be social. Make the effort to build relationships. It will enrich both your life and those you come in contact with. These steps will work for you whether you’re on Twitter personally or as a brand or business.

What are some other ways you can build relationships in 140 characters or less?