Automate Social Media Success with IFTTT (If This Then That)Kerry Guard • October 20, 2014 • 5 minutes to read
What is social media automation & who cares?
The marketing world is hellbent on automating everything: programmatic advertising (from folks like Rocket Fuel, Data Xu and more), programmatic email marketing, marketing automation from Marketo and more.
So how can folks automate some of their social media activity?
By using If This Then That (IFTTT)!
IFTTT can automate some of the manual social activity (like sharing your favorite blog posts) from your favorite websites and increase engagement on your social channels.
There is one huge distinction to make: I AM NOT RECOMMENDING YOU AUTOMATE EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY.
This is simply a tactic to help broadcast more useful stories, graphics, videos, etc. from killer writers. And, you'll see in the bottom section, this tactic has worked really well in getting me more RT's, mentions, and followers on Twitter in an experiment I have been running for the past few months.
Bam! There it is. This guide will walk you through two things:
- How you set up IFTTT to automate social media success
- My own results from this experiment over the past 90 days
How to Set Up IFTTT: A 4-Step Guide
There are four steps to set up IFTTT to auto-post awesome content from your favorite writers. Keep in mind, these are my four steps and I'm sure there are MANY other ways to go about this and get the same result.
IFTTT Setup Step 1: Grab RSS feed url
Even though Google's RSS product is dead, most websites still prominently feature an RSS feed icon (looks like a wifi symbol) on their websites near social media accounts or on a contact page.
Your first step is to scour the web, reading through your favorite author's websites and tracking down their RSS feed URL.
In the example below, I grabbed the RSS feed for VentureBeat, a popular technology blog based in San Francisco.
IFTTT Setup Step 2: Sign Up for IFTTT (it's free)
Head to IFTTT.com and set up an account. This is a free process that should take approximately 14 seconds.
IFTTT Setup Step 3: Creating your 'recipe'
A 'recipe,' as IFTTT calls them, is basically an automated command between two programs, social media accounts, etc.
At this point, you'll want to click on the 'browse' button once you've logged in. You are looking for a recipe that publishes a news story (Which will happen every single time your favorite author publishes a story) to your social media account.
In my experience, the easiest recipe to use to autopost content is to push from an author's RSS feed (hence, gathering RSS feed URLs) to your social network (such as Twitter, Facebook, etc).
After clicking on 'browse' on the top menu bar, go ahead and type in the network you want to push from RSS. In this instance, I selected Twitter and searched for 'RSS twitter.'
I've used a few, but my favorite existing recipe is from a IFTTT user by the name of demoine (see screenshot below).
Go ahead and click on this option.
Now it's time to copy/paste that RSS feed URL you have handy from your favorite site into the 'RSS feed link' box. Wahoo -- told ya that would come in handy!
Additionally, you have the option to customize the tweet (in this case) that will be sent out. I recommend making it sound somewhat unique; add #hashtags, use different intros and try to keep it short; keep in mind, the article title and url will be going in here too.
Then click 'Add Recipe.'
IFTTT Setup Step 4: Verifying your 'Recipe'
Next step: Go to 'My Recipes' on the top menu bar. You'll need to make sure your recipe has a descriptive title and even test fire it to see it works.
Click on the top listed recipe. It will be the most recent one you created (which is shown in days and minutes).
Make sure that your recipe has a very descriptive title. This will allow you to recall which one is which, an important capability once you do this a few dozen times :-)
The Results to Date: How is this going, Mr. Mike?
Okay Mr. Mike: you still haven't fully convinced me to automate some of the manual, tedious tasks in my social media activity.
But maybe if you showed me how it's worked for you over the past few months it would help!
Bam. No problem-o ladies and gentlemen.
During the past 91 days, I've gone from getting about 700 Twitter impressions on my shares per day to 725, a modest 4% increase.
I've gone from getting about 1 click per day on my shares to 2 clicks, a 50% jump (albeit small in volume, though).
Also, my followers have steadily increased by 14% (from 538 to 610 as of publishing this story).
As for RT's and and favorites, the numbers have held pretty steady there, continuing to average 1 of each on my personal Twitter account.
In Closing: My challenge to you, the readers
This is a very contained and small experiment -- yet look at the results on my personal Twitter handle!
My challenge to you -- my readers -- is this: Who will use IFTTT to automate something bigger and better than my experiment?!
Share some ideas in the comments section below and I'll tackle them and share results in a separate blog post.