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Why You Should Automate Menial Social Media Activity by Using IFTTT
By: Mike Krass
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"Social media automation? That's not for us."

The marketing world is on an absolute tear automating menial, mundane, yet necessary tasks. A few examples:
  • Programmatic advertising (from folks like Rocket Fuel, Data Xu and more) helps take the back-and-forth process out of buying online advertising
  • Programmatic email marketing (LiveIntent, for example) helps marketers buy and sell email newsletter space programmatically
  • SaaS companies like Marketo are helping to automate and measure the lead nurturing cycle for marketers and salespeople
So what about social media: how can folks automate parts of their social media strategy?
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 automate the process of finding and publishing useful stories, graphics, videos, etc. from killer writers on your own brands social media accounts. That's it!

I've been trying this out for the past few weeks in an experiment that I outline in the bottom section of this story: using IFTTT has gotten me more RTs, mentions, and followers on Twitter and I haven't lifted a finger since I set these channels up.

Bam! There it is. This guide will walk you through two things:
  1. How you set up IFTTT to automate social media success
  2. My own results from this experiment over the past 90 days
How to Set Up IFTTT: A Four-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 social media hack venture beat 2

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 Sign Up

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."

IFTTT RSS to Twitter recipe
I've used a few, but my favorite existing recipe is from an IFTTT user by the name of demoine (see screenshot below).

Go ahead and click on this option.

IFTTT RSS to Twitter recipe by demoine

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.

Creating IFTTT recipe from RSS Feed URL

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.

My Recipes of IFTTT






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. :-)

Notice in my example below: I am pushing all blog posts from the Raven Tools SEO blog directly to my Twitter handle (@mikekrass) and have named it appropriately.

verify raventools ifttt
You can also view all of this in the video below.



My Experiment Results to Date
Okay 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.

@mikekrass tweet impressions

I've gone from getting about 1 click per day on my shares to 2 clicks, a 50% jump (albeit small in volume, though).

@mikekrass clicks difference using IFTTT

Also, my followers have steadily increased by 14% (from 538 to 615 as of publishing this story).

@mikekrass twitter followers past 91 days

As for RTs and and favorites, the numbers have held pretty steady there, continuing to average 1 of each on my personal Twitter account.

So, what do you think?

Is social media automation something that your brand is interested in?

Let us know in the comments section below!


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About the Author
Mike Krass is the founder of MKG Media Group,  a Bay Area digital media shop that specializes in measurable media solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. When not walking his puppy or sky diving around the US, his personal musings can be read on Twitter at @mikekrass.
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