Let’s face it. Brand building for small, cash-strapped teams is tough. There’s never enough time, other things take precedence, and basic marketing activities get left for last… which means they don’t get touched. 

This is problematic. Brand building is more important than people think. At least marginally important. Your ability to be recognized and discovered by potential clients and industry leaders rests upon the strength of your brand identity. The easiest way to cultivate a brand identity is through social media feeds - the channels your audience is already engaged with. You have to provide valuable content on a regular basis in order to communicate with your audience. But providing content takes time. And you shouldn’t have to hire a social media manager or take valuable time out of managing your business in order to do this.  

SWARM, our small digital agency, understands this problem first-hand.  Even activities like queuing up content into a buffer feed took substantial time away from operational activities, resulting in neglected marketing channels as resources had to first focus on building products and running our business. Yet, by not having at least some social media presence  we were missing an opportunity to remind folks we existed, drive brand recognition, and potentially acquire new leads  

Our solution? Build a hack.

What makes our team tick is using technology to solve problems, which is why we decided to build a simple hack to boost our brand presence - starting with Twitter. 

Background

Before implementing the hack we were seeing about 5.3k impressions of our tweets over a 30 day period with approximately 1.5k real twitter followers, almost no retweets, and very few link clicks. 

TweetActivity

Goal 

Our goal was to build a simple hack that would automate the content produced on our Twitter account in order to drive engagement. We didn’t want poor or meaningless content. It was important that articles we pulled or topics we covered were interesting and relevant to our industry and audience.

Simple Solution

Pull relevant content from Reddit. Use IFTTT to allow Reddit to talk to our Twitter account. And Voila!

Output medium: We used Twitter as the output medium. However, this hack can also work for Facebook. 

Connector: IF This Then That (IFTTT) is the connector. IFTTT will link your output account with the input. If you don’t have a login for it, go ahead and sign up for it 

Source: We used Reddit as the source. If you don’t have an account you can easily register for free.  

The wonderful thing about reddit is that you have relevant communities that are most likely applicable to your target audience. If you work in technology, the https://reddit.com/r/technology community will be a great source for insight and a source of relevant articles, if you focus on Gaming then pulling content from here makes sense, or if you’re talking about Psychology then /r/psychology. In short, it works across a wide breadth of interests.  

Ok, now to the step-by-step.

Tools you will need: Twitter Account, Reddit Account, IFTTT account. 

1. Log into ifttt.com
2. Go to “My recipes and click on “Create a Recipe”
3. For the ‘this’, choose reddit 

iffft

4. Then choose your parameters -- these can be hot posts, new posts, any posts, or even reddit queries. We chose hot posts because we didn’t want to tweet everything posted in the subreddit, I want only things that the community deems relevant. 

options ifttt

5. Choose your target subreddit, i.e. tech 

Cool, you should by now have connected your content source. IFTTT will pull relevant articles from Reddit. 

Now onto the “that” part. 

If reddit then that

6. Click on ‘that’ and choose Twitter. (You can also choose Facebook, or FB pages for example). 

7. Next, choose how you want the content to be outputted. We chose “Post a tweet.” However if you want to, for example, share content from /r/pics you should choose “Post a tweet with image.” 

8. And now for the last and most important step: setting up how that content is going to be displayed. IFTTT’s default tweet text is the Post’s title, reference to where the source subreddit and the reddit url. 

The problem with this is is that you’re going to be promoting content on Reddit. This is fine, but requires your audience to take an additional step to get to the core of the content. What you’ll want to do is change the below to look like this. 

{{Title}} #hashtags {{ContentHTML}} 

And hit create action. What this does is it keeps the Title as displayed on Reddit. You then put in whatever hashtag is relevant to your market. Since we’re talking about tech in this example, we use #tech. Lastly the ContentHTML will link directly to the content / article. 

hacking auto updates

Lastly, pat yourself on the back, you’ve just set up an automated content stream for your Social Media Account. Yay! 

So, Does this really work?

Well, let’s look at May 2015 when we didn’t have this hack running, and then May 2016 after a few months of use. 

it works - twitter growth hack

Impressions: From 5.3k impressions, we moved up to 89.9k, from 1 to 116 retweets. 

Follower count: Our follower count increased on average by 40-50 real followers per month.

Website traffic: Started seeing both traffic and leads come in from twitter - this was not the case beforehand.  

One Caveat

While we found this hack to be successful, in that it increased impressions, retweets, link clicks,and even traffic to our company website, we also saw that this hack wasn’t a substitute for original content. Our own thought leadership pieces have systematically outperformed anything we’ve reposted, which is to be expected. 

So while this may be a good way to keep abreast of your social media strategy pro-bono and on the quick. The most powerful way to increase engagement is still through posting original content. 

Our blog posts and weekly newsletters have served as a fantastic way to drive engagement and traffic to our site. 

So I’ll leave you with this. Try out this IFTTT hack. It’s simple, easy and most importantly, it works! But if your team has more time or at least wants to devote more time to building brand, then the best hack may not be a hack at all, but hard work. 

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