Signal Boosting: Automating Site Announcements
So you want to get the word out about the latest and greatest feature, right?
So you log in to your Twitter account and post an update, you then log into your Facebook page, your Instagram, and your Tumblr account. Now, what if I told you that there was a way to do this all automatically?
RSS Feeds are the meat and potatoes of this process. If you have access to RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds on your site, then you are able to invoke a lot of magic. RSS feeds use standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information: blog entries, news headlines, audio, video. People, or even other web sites and robots, can then subscribe to your feeds in order to get your most recent and up to date content. The vast majority of web sites have some sort of built in RSS feed. The trick to using them though, is to put them to work for you.
IFTTT is short for "If This Then That." IFTTT is a wonderful service that allows you to create recipes using Triggers (something new is posted to Facebook, you're tagged in a photo, checking in via Foursquare, a new item appears in an RSS feed, etc), Channels (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Buffer, etc.) , and follow them up with an action (post a Tweet, send me an SMS, send me an email, etc).
The possibilities when using IFTTT are just about limitless. To make using IFTTT even easier, there are public recipes that you may use and add to your account. So you don't even have to go through the process of setting things up yourself. You'll find that a lot of the work has already been done for you.
Zapier works in a similar way to IFTTT: you can connect apps and devices together so that particular events trigger precise outcomes. The application uses “Zaps” to connect apps and services. It’s aimed at users who want to create complex sequences.
Buffer is a great way to queue up a bunch of posts and release them all on a set schedule. If I know that an RSS feed is going to be “spammy” and get new content very frequently, then I’ll often send it to Buffer. The RSS feed posts then are entered into a Buffer queue and are released in batches using a schedule that is predefined. Schedules like this are also fantastic for queuing up posts to go off whenever I’m on vacation.
Buffer also allows you to share access to your social media accounts without giving anyone your passwords. This is a great feature for people who want to collaborate securely regarding their site's updates.
Microsoft Flow supports a number of integrations and lets you automate workflows between your apps and services, get notifications, and synchronize files.
It lets you do very interesting things with Microsoft Office, such as save tweets that include a specific hashtag to a SharePoint list. It can also run sentiment analysis on tweets using Text Analytics and push results to a Power BI dataset. Additionally Microsoft Flow has a mobile app which lets you monitor and manage your workflows from anywhere.
While not as popular these days, you can also use Google Feedburner to automate a few basic things. Feedburner allows you to automatically post your RSS feed to Twitter, and also supports a ping (PingShot) service, which will notify interested sites whenever your RSS feed has a new update. This can be somewhat useful for search indexing, but it is not a robust cross-platform solution like that which IFTTT and Buffer offer.
How to all of these services work? Behind the scenes many of these services use REST APIs and are simply providing the automation "glue" between your applications. This will require a bit of programming know-how.
Go forth and spread your announcements!
Originally published on RPGfix.