There are hundreds of social media sites out there. There is no way you can be active member and contributor in all of them, so you will have to choose the ones you focus on. However, there are ways to automate certain tasks, making things easier for yourself AND help all your social media followers at the same time.
For example, it is very likely that you want to share the new blog post you just published, your new YouTube video, etc. In addition to my own content, I also want to share the best blog posts, articles and videos I've read or watched.
As I want to send these to Twitter anyway, I should make that process as easy for myself as possible, right? I'm thinking automation! And in the end, it's quite easy too! So if you want to send the "standard" updates automatically too, this the post is for you!
In this post you will learn
- how you can integrate the different social media networks and bookmarking sites together
- how to use Twitterfeed and FriendFeed to send automatic updates to Twitter and Facebook
- how to automate the updates you would be doing anyway
Social Media Mayhem
Before we go into automation and other cool things like this, I want you to take a look at this picture, as it illustrates what we're doing here.
In short we're integrating all the services to FriendFeed, utilizing the power of RSS feeds with Twitterfeed and doing automatic updates to Twitter and/or Facebook. And by automatic, I mean automatically announce our own updates to our friends and followers. As we connect each and every social media profile, site and network we use to FriendFeed, that becomes our central base, in addition to Twitter and Facebook.
With this kind of integration, you can personally "stay" in Twitter and Facebook, update your blog by writing great content, read your RSS feeds and share your favorites", watch YouTube videos and mark your favorites, Digg cool posts, bookmark great pages with Delicious for reference, have fun with StumbleUpon and all those useful things you do with social media. The automatic integration will take care of the rest.
The "mundane tasks" you do, like bookmarking or Digging a post, will now be logged and shared automatically... Cool, huh? If you just update your blog and use Twitter, there would just be less stuff flying around, but the principles still apply.
With integration and subtle automation, you can make your social media experience just a little bit easier (as you don't have to worry about tweeting your latest blog post anymore).
To explain the individual services a bit further, let's look at the key components in this mayhem.
The Key Components for More Effective Social Media Usage
This is where the automation and integration magic takes place. Twitterfeed takes any RSS feed and send automatic updates to your Twitter account(s) and Facebook.
Depending on the settings you use for the feed, Twitterfeed will check the feed every 1-12 hours and if there is something new on the feed (e.g. new blog post), automatic update is sent.
You can send multiple updates at once (if there is, say, 3 new items on the feed), but I don't recommend you to do that, as it'll look stupid (andspammy) on Twitter and Facebook if you send or update three times at the same time.
In addition to Twitterfeed, one of the other essential social media services is FriendFeed. FF is the place where every social media site and service you use come together. This is the place where you integrate your Twitter profile, blog feeds,Youtube videos and such.
On FriendFeed, you pretty much add every social media profile you have, like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious, Mixx, LinkedIn, etc. The list goes on and on really. When you add your blog commenting services, like BackType and Disqus to your FriendFeed, it becomes the one place where everything you do is available at one place.
FriendFeed is powerhouse in social media aggregation, as you can link all your relevant social networking and bookmarking sites there, as well as your blogs, and pretty much anything that puts out RSS feed. But the slightly hidden power comes from strong Twitter connection.
You can auto-post everything from FF to your Twitter profile as well if you want (not recommended). But FriendFeed does let you choose which of your linked services gets posted to Twitter.
Google Reader (and the Shared Items)
I'm a RSS feed addict. I think I have hundred or so RSS feeds that I have subscribed to on my Google Reader. I don't read them all, but I do check the headlines when I have the time. As I explained in the 3 Ways To Use Google Reader Like a Pro -article, I mark the interesting articles with star and then read the ones I marked.
From the articles and posts I read, I choose the best and share them through my Google Reader Shared Items. From my public profile anyone can check what have been the best articles I've come across.
But the most beautiful thing about Shared Items is that there is a RSS feed in there as well. And where do all the RSS feeds go? To Twitterfeed of course, and onwards to my Twitter friends!
Using Google Reader and subscribing to all the RSS feeds I can find, I'm keeping on top of things, following the latest trends and information about blogging, Internet business, social media, web design, WordPress, programming, games, gaming and miscellaneous geek stuff.
So I'm reading a lot, I'm learning more and more about the topics and industries I'm interested in AND I'm helping my Twitter followers at the same time as I automatically share the best posts I've found. Great for me, and even better for anyone who follows me as they don't have to go through all the information themselves.
BackType and Disqus
As I explained in the Advanced Blog Commenting Tricks -post, services like BackType and Disqus which aggregate your blog comments to one place AND re-publish them as your personal blog comments RSS feed, we have the opportunity to integrate these with our other services. At minimum, add these two to your FriendFeed.
Also you can enable the automatic integration to Twitter or Facebook (with cool summary about your comments, and once a day or once a week schedule). Or you can even re-route the RSS feed through Twitterfeed and let your friends know right away when you make a new comment.
If you're YouTube user, you might have noticed they have new features there for integration with Twitter, Facebook and/or Google Reader. So choose the one that's best for you and go with it, or choose several. This way, your YouTube activity will be automatically updated to those services as well. Depending on the settings, you can send automatic updates for nearly all YouTube activities.
Personally I send auto-updates to Twitter only, and when I subscribe to a channel, Favorite a Video (which I don't do too often), leave a comment on a video or when I upload a new video. So I've skipped updates when rating a video (which I do quite often). And of course, I've connected my Youtube Channel to FriendFeed.
You can send these automatic updates to any social media site, but for me, the number one choice is Twitter. So in a sense, it's my "main" social media service.
I'm a big believer in personal interaction, even when it's through service like Twitter. By personal interaction I mean that I'm there, manually and personally tweeting, answering to questions and having great conversations.
With all the tools available to me, I could automate the whole Twitter usage, but that's just wasting everyone's time. Social media is for the people, like you and me, not automated (ro)bots. You can find me on Twitter, it's the best and IMHO easiest way to connect with other people.
The big one. Facebook. Hundreds of millions of users, cool groups, fan-pages, applications, you name it. Personally, I have kept Facebook away from my other profiles, at least for now. But Facebook is very powerful way to build your personal brand and do social media marketing, if you're smart about the way you use it, so keep that in mind.
I have mostly family and friends there and I have also kept my FB account mainly in Finnish, so making updates in English or having non-Finnish friends there wouldn't make much sense. For that, I have Twitter. But if you're more active Facebook user and want to share things there, it's as easy as it is with Twitter.
Simple Social Media Automation
I'm assuming you're using Twitter, Facebook or both as you've read this far, so I'll skip those steps. In case you are totally new to all things Social Media, I recommend you check the 7 Must-Use Social Media Sites -article and start building your profiles on the main social media sites.
But now, let's look how to achieve zen-like mastery in social media automation and keep your friends, family, business contacts, customers and everyone who follow you, informed about things you do online.
Take a little RSS, add a pinch of Twitterfeed and soon, you'll be...
Sending Automatic Updates To Twitter and/or Facebook
- Sign up to Twitterfeed.com (skip the registration if you already have an account)
- Sign in to Twitterfeed.com
- Click on "Create New Feed"
- Choose either Twitter (and the account) or Facebook
- Give name of the RSS Feed (e.g. Your Blog's title)
- This name will only show for you in Twitterfeed, so make it descriptive
- Add the RSS feed URL to the settings
- For example, your blog's Feedburner URL
- Use the same principles for any RSS Feed, like Google Reader Shared Items RSS feed.
- Press "Test RSS Feed"
- You should see green text below the RSS Feed URL field: "Feed parsed OK"
- Go to Advanced Settings
- Adjust the update frequency
- My recommendation: Every Hour and 1 new update(s) at a time
- You can update less frequently, or even every 30 minutes, but think very hard if you want to increase the number of updates at a time
- Post content: For your blog feed, you probably want to choose "title only" if you're posting to Twitter, "title & description" is good for Facebook
- Make sure "Post Link" check-box is checked
- (Advanced) Use your favorite URL shortener
- My personal favorite: bit.ly with API for statistics = Automatic click tracking for these automatic Tweets
- Post Prefix/Suffix: You might want to edit something here, depending on the type of RSS Feed you're processing
- e.g. for your own blog posts, "New blog post:" prefix is nice, or
- "Reading:" for Google Reader Shared Items
- Keyword Filter. Don't use it. You're sending automatic updates from your own blog posts, why would you filter them?
- It is possible to take any RSS feed or ten of them, and use keyword filters to autotweet each and every link with some word or phrase in them, but that's not why we're doing this
- In fact, I personally unfollow everyone who is using keyword based autotweeting from feeds that are not their own. And yes, I can tell.
- (Advanced) UTM Tags: If you're using Google Analytics to track your blog traffic, this is where you can some more data there
- By setting the UTM Source (e.g. twitterfeed), UTM Medium (e.g. Twitter or Facebook) and optionally Campaign (e.g. autoupdate, autotweet, or such) you can see traffic through these links in your Google Analytics account which can help you analyze and improve the process (by using different prefix for example)
- Click on "Create feed"
Congratulations! Next time there is an update on the RSS feed you added to Twitterfeed, it will automatically send an update to Twitter (or Facebook, if you chose that)!
Using the same process, you can add any RSS to Twitterfeed and post automatic updates, but don't go overboard and stay with RSS feeds with your own content in them.
And do note that you can connect to Twitter through FriendFeed as well, so using Twitterfeed is not totally necessary, but I recommend you take advantage of the advanced features with URL shortening, click-tracking and even UTM Campaign codes for cool and useful statistics over time.
But now that you've added your blog's RSS feed to Twitterfeed, why don't you go and write a new post. After some time (depending on the update frequency) you should see a new automatic Tweet and/or Facebook update announcing your new blog post!
That my friend... how should I put it... is Pure Awesomeness!
With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility
With this kind of integration, it very easy to get very spammy, and fast. So be cautious about the Twitterfeed settings, keeping the number of updates done at once in 1 or 2 at max (I use 1). The whole purpose of the social media integration is to automate the little things you do anyway, not to turn the whole thing into automated mess.
With the similar methods, it is possible to turn your Twitter account into bot that keeps tweeting and ignoring everything else. That's not very social, is it?
No, and that's how I like to keep it. Automate the couple of tasks I'd be personally tweeting anyway, and otherwise, use Twitter as usual, engaging in conversations, being personal and have fun. No robo-dance for me (on Twitter).
If you choose to integrate Twitter to FriendFeed (as you should), AND you also want to link FriendFeed back to Twitter (via TwitterFeed) to tweet about the Diggs, Stumble's and such that go to your FriendFeed, adjust the update frequency and number of updates in away that you don't do double updates too often. So keep in mind that if you send a normal tweet, that goes round-about through FriendFeed and Twitterfeed, and then comes back to Twitter.
And similarly, if you connect to Twitter directly from FriendFeed settings, adjust what services you want to send a tweet about. Whatever integration "route" you choose, remember to avoid too many double connections, like
- connecting YouTube to both Twitter and Google Reader,
- which again can be connected to FriendFeed and
- FriendFeed can be connected to Twitter.
Any sharing activity in YouTube would cause double tweet if you don't adjust some settings (or just drop Google Reader connection at Youtube).This does bring an interesting option, as you could possibly link your FriendFeed to other Twitter account. This way, you'd be using your "main" account, integrated with your blog, YouTube and Google Reader favorites via Twitterfeed.
As your main Twitter account is connected to your FriendFeed, you could pick up the FriendFeed RSS and pipe it through Twitterfeed to your secondary Twitter account, again remembering configure it to do only send one Tweet at once.
Autotweeting is Good For You IF YOU DO IT RIGHT
Remember, automation is a good thing, but you should remember that social media is for collaboration and personal connection. It is very likely you will lose your following if you start abusing Twitterfeed's powers and start sending Tweets based on keyword search or send several updates at once to Twitter or Facebook.
All the above might sound like a lot "work". But you have to set this "system" only once. After you have added all the services to FriendFeed and all the RSS Feeds you want to share to Twitterfeed , all you have to do is use these services like you normally would. And perhaps start hitting the "share" button on Google Reader when you find a great post if you haven't done that before.
Don't wait any longer, go set yourself up with these social media integrations and start enjoying automatic updates about the things you would do manually anyway.
Oh, but before you go, there are three things I'd love you to do:
- Leave a comment to this post and tell what did you think about this
- Subscribe to my RSS feed or email newsletter
- Friend me at FriendFeed and Follow me on Twitter
Thank you so much for reading this post.
The Kung Fu Panda of Social Media,
Antti Kokkonen aka Zemalf