Okay, first things first. I am not a black hat marketing person and automating aspects of who you are online needs to be carefully planned and details need to be considered. From my point of view, Twitter, or any social media activities really, is something that should be done authentically. Twitter is my online home. Please don’t abuse automation services like these to create a botnet or spam people.
I came up with the idea for automatic tweets primarily as a support for people who are starting out their professional Twitter presence. Such Twitter newbies often want to keep a tiny bit of tweets going out to their profile every once in a while, so it doesn’t look deserted until they got thoroughly used to everything and start using it on daily basis. This is without a doubt, incredibly useful for starters but also it requires a bit of care and fine-tuning at the start. That’s why I put this guide up here with only a few simple steps and some background information.
There are also other useful tools out there that support professional Twitter influencers in many ways, but these usually cost that kind of money that new users wouldn’t invest. I hope the following steps on Twitter automation are useful for you.
Step 1: Finding the right feed
What should you let a machine tweet out? You’re not going to verify the content that is posted under your name so, if you’re not automating your own content, you better make sure that nothing inappropriate or awkward hits your feed. Most of all popular publishers offer some kind of feed syndication that you can use for this purpose. You just need to copy the RSS URL into your clipboard or note it down elsewhere for step three.
A good way to go about automated tweeting is to use Google News. However, that should be used only if you’re in for a niche subject. If you use a keyword like “technology,” there will be too much chaos and a too high frequency of content going out. You might want to go for slightly longer keywords instead such as “unified communications.” Google even offers an excellent guide on how to extract RSS from their news results, in case you didn’t do that before.
If you’re not tweeting in English, you should make sure that you set up the Google News locale in a way that only fetches posts in your language or you use only publishers that write in your language. If you can’t think of anything else, you could also use the TechAcute RSS feed for that. I’d appreciate that. 😉
If you want to test out one or more RSS feeds before considering Twitter automation, you can use an RSS reader such as the Inoreader and see what sort of items get published on a particular feed.
You should also make sure that the chosen feed doesn’t get new content at a frequency that is unbearable for your followers. If you set something up that fires out an automated tweet, people might think that you’re a spambot. It’s not useful to follow people who tweet every minute and fill up the timeline. If you don’t know where to start looking, you can also do a Google search for RSS feed directories. For instance, the Utah Education Network has created this list of RSS feeds for you.
Step 2: Sign up at Microsoft Flow
That’s fairly simple. Just navigate to the Microsoft Flow website and sign up there or download their mobile app to get started using Flow. If you’re already a Microsoft Office 365 user, Flow is already in your toolset. You will not need an additional account in that case. If you don’t like Flow for any reason, you can also opt-out and use solutions like IFTTT, Zapier or Tasker instead.
Easy, right? 🙂
Step 3: Create your automation task
Once you have your Microsoft Flow account ready or signed in with your already existing Microsoft account, you can start using Flow. You can do all kinds of useful or not so useful things with this workflow automation system from Microsoft, but for now, we are looking to take an existing template from the Microsoft Flow Community and edit it to our needs. The template is called “RSS feed news to Twitter” and can be found here.
This is how your tweet content modules could look like.
By default, this template will only contain the module for tweeting the headline (“Feed title”) out. You’d be wise also to add the module for the article’s actual URL (“Primary feed link”), so your followers can click on the link and read the post. If you find it applicable, you can also add a themed hashtag here, but that does not always make sense. You can experiment with the setup. If you’re going to create multiple instances of this template, I recommend you to rename each one of them so you can better understand what’s what on the overview page.
Of course, you can use Microsoft Flow for all kinds of workflow automation and even increase your productivity for work if you’re able to build smart macros, but I hope you enjoyed this guide to setting up an RSS feed to tweets automatically. If you’re curious about the full potential of Microsoft Flow, you can check the video below. If you built some cool workflows yourself or found something useful in the catalog, make sure to share it with us in the comments below. Thanks for reading and have fun auto-tweeting but don’t become a robot. Twitter automation is useful in some aspects but it might even violate their terms of service if you automate the wrong aspects. Keep talking to people, engage, interact, and be social! 🙂
YouTube: Introduction to Microsoft Flow
Photo credit: The feature image “robot girl” was done by OneGo. The “people using smartphones” photo was done by RawPixel and the “girl sees robot face in the mirror” image was done by Silvia and Frank from Pixel2013.