Automating cross-channel posting of social content…

… have a look up my sleeves into some of my “secrets” to managing social channels:

The general consensus in the social business world is that heavy automation is a bad thing, that all channels should have their own content tailored to that audience. While that is excellent advice (which I’ve recommended time and time again to others who’ve asked for best practices) it isn’t always practical or within resources to man multiple social channels 24×7. There are even times when your audience may WANT some level of automation to ensure they get the content they want with consistency and predictability. (As an aside here: before moving forward with any automation be sure to know your audience; both what they need and want, as well as what behaviours they like and dislike in the various channels. Just knowing this will take you far on its own.)

In the past few years I’ve used all sorts of methods to post content both in automated and manual fashions. For the channels I manage, I’ve found a balance of manual intervention and automated posting work best to keep the content flowing and still be able to engage and respond as needed. To this end I have a few fun tools in my arsenal to help me be successful. In this post I’ll go over the one tool that I most often forget about because it just simply works, and works in a passive manner:

Ifttt.comIf this then that is a brilliant tool to quickly and easily begin automating sharing of content across social channels. While there are other methods and tools out there which do similar things, I’ve yet to find anything comparable to which does everything I need. Some of the biggies include posting from one channel to a Facebook Page, a process which is often ignored by most sites’ “Share to Facebook” features which most often only post to personal walls, not Pages. Happily, comes to the rescue and easily allows me to automate things like sharing a Youtube Video to my Facebook Page in a “set it and forget it” manner.

This simple, but robust site not only lets you connect social channels together in otherwise unsupported fashions, but also provides ways to automate well beyond structured social sites by connecting things like Evernote, SMS, Google Voice, and many more content channels to build tasks to accomplish your specific needs. They even provide a great resource and ability to create and share recipes (tasks which have been built which don’t contain authentication information) so you won’t be re-creating the wheel. The recipe section is also a great place to find inspiration for what is possible and maybe strike that idea of the perfect use.

Using I’ve been able to get to a “one and done” model of content posting to various channels. But it can do so much more… just imagine the possibilities of customizing your own SMS notifications, archive and access capabilities, auto post based on content you put in DropBox, or update your twitter avatar when you update your Facebook profile picture!

There ARE, of course, some caveats to using

Most importantly is to always remember the flow of content. It is easy to build a ton of tasks and then forget what is posting to where, which can result in embarrassing duplication of content and need to manually clean up duplicate posts. I’d recommend setting a one-way flow which always originates on the same channel if you use to automate cross-channel postings, as you can quickly run into a continuous loop of content if you set up tasks to post to twitter from Facebook and from Facebook to twitter. If you only have a one-way flow and always use one channel as your primary location for content, you reduce the risk of flooding your users with the same post over and over again.

Likewise, you will want to be judicious about automating in this fashion, as some channels are less tolerant of frequent posts than others are. Understand the frequency of content coming through your primary source and how it may be received by the secondary channel, and only set the task if you know the flow will be ok for all audiences. Can you imagine how your audience would react if you set an RSS feed from CNN’s home page to auto-post to your Facebook page? Your twitter followers may be more accepting of such high frequency posts, but your Facebook page will likely feel the consequences far more deeply.

Now go forth and enjoy playing around with this amazingly fun and customizable tool and build your own “if this then that” triggers, just be sure to only use this information for good not evil! Once you do, let me know what you come up with! I’d love to hear of new and innovative ways you may us the site.

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