Twitter is an effective tool for reaching a global market, but startups should try a few tricks to up their game when using the social media platform.

On Tuesday, a group of startup founders in Cape Breton had a chance to learn some hacks that can be used to amplify their message. They attended the first #PitchTweet event in Sydney, a program put on by Momentum Cape Breton and Twitter Canada that helps small businesses learn how to make a business case in fewer than 140 characters. More than 12 million Canadians now tweet each year, and its global use is still growing by double digits annually, so Twitter is an excellent tool for reaching a worldwide audience.

Cam Gordon, the Head of Communications at Twitter Canada, spent the morning walking the audience through the world of Twitter and showing ways to get more out of the platform. Here are six takeaways from the event:

1. Twitter is what you make it. Twitter can be conversational, immediate, global, concise, a vehicle for images and video. Gordon said the platform can be used in many ways and users should find the way that best suits them. Experiment with it and find out how it best suits your aims.

2. Find an audience that shares your interests. Many – possibly most – startups address niche markets and Twitter can help you find people within these niches. Gordon advised business people to find tweeters with similar interests and see who follow them. Identify people within your global community and engage with them. Learn about the global conversations in your sphere of interest and join it. Find out what hashtags they use rather than inventing your own. “The challenge isn’t about finding more people,” said Gordon. “It’s about finding the people of the right mindset.”

3. Make the time to Tweet. Gordon said some people start tweeting and let it lapse and it doesn’t help their business at all. He advises building Twitter time into your schedule, even if its 20 minutes a day, and even if it involves retweeting other people’s content. The important thing is to keep it up. “I often tell people, ‘If you’re not going to make time to do it, just don’t do it,’” he said.

4. Don’t be afraid to counter-program. By this, Gordon means it’s a good idea to post your stuff at a time when you know a lot of people will be on Twitter – during the Oscars or big sports events, or almost any Sunday night when a big event is on TV. Yes, there will be a lot of other content, but it’s a time when people are browsing and active and there’s a better chance you’ll be spotted.

5. Use Twitter Analytics. Gordon said too few people take advantage of the analytics tab found in the account tab at the top right of your Twitter screen. By learning what tweets have had the greatest response, you can get a better idea of what works and repeat it.

6. Use Twitter Lists. Another under-used feature. With Twitter Lists, users can assemble groups of Twitter users with similar interests without having all their tweets flood your stream. You can make your own list, or do research using other people’s lists. It can help you find members of your community or see what they’ve been tweeting about.

The event ended with a competition to see which participant could come up with the most effective pitch in a tweet. Here’s the winner, submitted by data storage unit manufacturer 45 Drives: