You’d have to be living under a rock to know nothing about social media, and you’d have to be in deep denial to believe that it’s unimportant for your business.

Most businesses I work with are aware of the power of social media marketing, but have no clear idea of how to integrate it into their existing marketing strategy, or which social strategies work and don’t work. If that’s where you’re stuck, this blog is for you.

At Forge and Smith, we often learn how to solve our business partners’ problems by solving our own first. We decided to focus on Twitter first because Twitter has the best analytics, and we felt it would engage our target audience more effectively. We reviewed our engagement statistics for one month and were underwhelmed:

  • Our tweets had only had a total of 8634 impressions
  • We were only averaging 50 new followers per month (often fewer)
  • Only 1024 people visited our Twitter profile
  • We only got 121 referral visits to our website with 0 conversions
  • Our top tweet had only 377 impressions

The goal of utilizing social media as a business can’t just be to gain followers, though that’s a great eventual benefit. Its power is to distribute the content you’re creating while building your brand’s reputation. Yes, that’s correct: you can’t effectively use social media without content! If you do, it’s the equivalent of standing in a crowd and saying “Come talk to us, we’re great!” with nothing to say when a person actually stops to chat.

The very first step in any process of increasing your social media engagement is to start producing more quality content. Typically this means a blog, or “news” section if you will, to create content that you can share across social channels. You want to create content that answers a problem your customers have, creates value through the process of answering that problem, and gives them something to take away. Kind of like what I’m doing now.

You can also “find” content that you can share to achieve the same ends. If you follow my Twitter account, you’ll see that I share lots of articles by companies like Hubspot and InVision that are relevant to my audience and potential clients. I source content or topics they haven’t thought to research themselves, but that I feel would help them understand a bit more about what websites and content marketing can do for their business.

Here’s what we did to drastically improve our Twitter performance in three months:

1) More Tweets

We increased our tweets per day during optimal times chosen by data analysis, adding evenings and weekends. Essentially we figured out when we could see bumps in impressions (people seeing our tweets) and engagement (people clicking on our tweets), and focused our posting on those times. We experimented with times outside business hours and noticed that late night tweets got significantly more impressions and engagement.

2) Stronger Content Balance

We introduced more curated content (other sources’ content that we were sharing with our own thoughts attached), more branded promotional content (calling out our Case Studies and Service pages, for example), and balanced that with more culture-focused fun activity. While doing this, we continued to ensure that nothing was tweeted “just to fill a hole” – each tweet, like every blog you create, has to drive value for your audience.

3) Improved Hashtag Use

Tweets with at least one hashtag get 17% more impressions. We spent time researching hashtags (a great free tool for this is, and exploring alternative hashtags that were related to ones we were already using. Hashtags are how people will often find your tweets, since most of your impressions will come from people that don’t follow you – yet. A strong hashtag game helps build your following with people who find your content while searching for answers.

There has been a lot of industry chatter about how users are increasingly using social channels to search for products and services. A brand with an active, healthy social presence is more appealing than one with a website alone. If the internet is the ultimate validator, social media is King.

4) Incorporating More Images and Animated GIFs

Your tweet is one of 350,000 other tweets every minute. Users have to skim and skip tweets to even begin to deal with that much content. Powerful visuals give your tweets a much better chance of being noticed when someone is scrolling through their busy feed. We experimented with animated GIFs, and have found that these dramatically improved engagement over static images.

5) Automated Content Curation

Work smarter, not harder. It takes a lot of time to write content to post or find content to share, so we had to find ways to speed up this process and remove a lot of the repetitive work. We now use Pocket to save content we find for when we’re able to sit down and do scheduling. We then review our Pocketed content and, if we feel it’s share-worthy, use Buffer to craft a tweet. Buffer allows you to create a queue and easily create and schedule tweets (or other social posts) at specific times.

We can now pack our curation time into a bulk window, but drip that shared content over a longer period of time to ensure that our content gets seen.

The results after just three months were astounding:

  • Our tweets got a total of 77,200 impressions: a 794% increase
  • We were averaged over 300 new followers per month, for a total of 945 new followers added organically: a 500% increase
  • 2870 users visited our Twitter profile: a 180% increase
  • We saw 183 referral visits to our website with 2 conversions: a 51% increase in visits and one of those conversions is moving through our proposal process
  • Our top tweet at 10,600 impressions: a 2712% increase

We also saw strong improvements on other networks through the improved content production and curation processes, with LinkedIn seeing 22 referrals in December (up from 11 in September). Facebook rose to 61 hits in December from 26 in September.

All of this was through actively sharing valuable content that we created. We’re now averaging ten new blogs per month, with a goal of breaking 100 new blog posts before the end of 2016.

As you can see, this is not rocket science. This is hard work, perseverance, and content output. I know from experience that this can all feel overwhelming, but the trick is to pick a place to start, and just do it. You’ll be surprised what even a slight increase in helpful content for your core audience can do for your business.

Write well. Be helpful. Solve problems. Post often.

Good luck!