Social networking is perhaps the easiest way to waste your day away. You can scroll through Facebook and Twitter all day and still not read everything that’s posted. Try to be friendly and reply to everyone, and you’ll quickly decide that social networks are a Rube Goldberg machine of friendliness.
But for many of us, social networks aren’t just about wasting time or keeping up with our friends. They’re also for work. We’re sharing the new deals at our stores, the new products our team is working on, and our latest blog posts. We’re crunching numbers, trying to find ways to make more viral content, and crossing our fingers that people will come.
Surely they’ll come. You’ve already spent your whole afternoon on writing 140 character posts until you’re thinking in sound bites. Suddenly you hate Facebook and Twitter with a passion you didn’t know existed.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You could, instead, be growing your social media following by thousands each month and finding new time and opportunities to expand your business through social media. That’s why you need Zapier.
“It would take a few hours for our staff to do what Zapier does in seconds.”- Lucas Hall, Cozy community manager
How to Automate Social Media
We’ve compiled 101 Zaps—an instance of automation on Zapier—across five categories that smartly put social media automation to use for sales and marketing. Some of them we thought up ourselves, but a most are the genius of our awesome customers here at Zapier.
What is Zapier?
Zapier is event-based automation. An event—let’s say a new post on your blog—triggers an action, such as sharing that post on Twitter and Facebook. It’s a simple equation—an event happens in one place, triggering an event in another place—that can be incredibly powerful when you use it to tie together the over 350 apps that Zapier supports, including WordPress, Google Docs, Evernote, and every major social network. That means when you write a new blog post, you could trigger an action in hundreds of other apps, making the automation possibilities of Zapier seemingly infinite.
Zapier Features for Social Media Automation
You can use Zapier’s automation power for a variety of tasks, but one of the quickest ways to measurably save time is by using it to assist your social media strategy. Zapier supports all the major social networks—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and, with the help of Buffer, Google+. And, if you have multiple accounts of any one service, such as a Twitter account for work and personal, you can add all of those accounts and share to each of them from Zapier.
Then, Zapier has filters to help you share just what you want. Want to only share posts about some topics? No problem. Need to only share content several days after it’s been posted? Sure thing. Want to reuse your existing automations for another account on the same network? Two clicks is all you’ll need. And if you’re worried that something will break, don’t: Zapier will keep the history of all your tasks, so you can look through it anytime and see what it’s done automatically for you.
Best of all, Zapier is free to get started.
But Beware, Automation isn’t Always the Answer
It’s true. There are times it’s better to not automate your social media. Some services don’t work well together, whether it’s a character limit or image formatting issue, so manually posting on some sites can lead to better engagement. It’s worth testing your automation a few times for unexpected outcomes before implement it.
There are app terms of service to be read, as well. Specifically, Twitter’s rules around automation are important to brief yourself on before automating tweets on tweets on tweets. Here are few items worth noting:
- It’s OK to automate a reply to your new follower, but it’s not recommend as it can be an annoyance
- It’s OK to automate a reply to someone who explicitly mentions your handle, name or brand, but again, it can be an annoyance
- It’s not OK to automate a reply to a user who mentions a keyword of your choice—in Twitter’s eyes, this is spam
- It’s not OK to automate the retweeting of a user based on a keyword in their tweet
- It’s not OK to steal another user’s tweets and share just the content of their tweet from your account
Automation can also be inappropriate during times of local, national, or global tragedy. While other Twitter users are expressing their grief over an event, your account could be continuing to promote a product. If you’re going to use automation, it’s important to know how, if needed, to quickly turn it all off.
In general, just think about what you like (and don’t like) on your favorite social networks, and act the way you’d be ok with other accounts doing to you. Be nice.
Now that we have our warning out there, let’s dive in and find some ways to help you automate the tediousness away from social networking.
“Zapier lets us focus our editorial staff on curation and posting of our top news, but lets us automate some of the more programmatic posts that we do every day.”- Kevin Lisota, GeekWire tech consultant
Instantly Share New Content via RSS
Writing a blog post is only the first step. Once it’s published, you still have to promote your post and make sure your entire audience sees it. That’s time consuming at best, tedious at worst—and it’s tasks like these where Zapier fits most perfectly.
All you have to do is link your RSS feed to your social network, and have Zapier automatically share everything you post with all of your social networks. You can customize what’s shared for each network, filter your feed to only share posts about specific topics if you want, or send them to Buffer if you’d like to share the posts later.
Sharing RSS feeds might sound like a simple use-case, but it’s enough to help the GeekWire team run a site with news that’s read by millions of people with only a small team.
“Having a tool like Zapier around lets us focus our editorial staff on curation and posting of our top news, but lets us automate some of the more programmatic posts that we do every day, making sure that our content is always fresh for our readers,” says Kevin Lisota, a GeekWire tech consultant.
You can use this for more than just sharing new posts. If you have a podcast, you can share new episodes with your followers automatically with its RSS feed. Or, if you have multiple blogs, you can share them all together.
Syndicate Updates Across Your Accounts
You’re already sharing stuff on Twitter, so why not automatically share the same stuff on other social networks. Zapier can automatically copy your Tweets and share them on any other network. You’ll never have to manually post anything to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Buffer again.
This can help you save a considerable amount of time, while still broadening your social media reach. That’s how the Jurlnnov team is able to share their content on every social network.
“We create a single set of messages that will be delivered to our customers and Zapier publishes them to the appropriate social media site based on predefined rules,” says Eric Vanderburg from the JurInnov team. “With Zapier, we don’t have to choose a single social media platform. Instead, we can connect with customers on whichever platform they prefer to provide them with the resources they need effectively and consistently.”
Do note is that you’ll want to add a custom filter to your Zaps to not share your @replies. Just add a custom filter, and select “In Reply To Screen Name” followed by “Does not exist”. That’ll ensure that you’re only sharing new posts, not Tweets where you’re replying to someone else. Check this article for more info on that from our support docs.
Facebook Pages are great for a focused community about your content, but it’d be a shame to only share your posts with that group. Zapier can copy your Facebook Page posts to any other social network, including your personal Facebook profile or another private Facebook group.
Facebook Personal Profile
Facebook doesn’t have to be just about your personal life. Even your personal Facebook profile can be a tool to share interesting content that you’d like to share on your other social networks. You can use custom filters to make sure you’re only sharing certain types of content—perhaps only posts with a link or a picture—and then Zapier will make sure everyone will see them no matter which network they’re on.
LinkedIn isn’t just a place for your resume—it’s also increasingly popular as a place to share business ideas and links in its news feed. You can’t automatically copy LinkedIn status to other networks, but you can use Zapier to automatically post Tweets, Facebook messages, and more to LinkedIn to make sure you keep your LinkedIn
Pictures are worth a thousand words, the saying goes, but it’s terribly slow to share photos individually on each social network. Instead, pick the best place to share pictures, and then automatically share those pictures with the rest of your networks.
Instagram is the place to share pictures today, and Zapier can tie it together with the rest of your social networks. You could share your Instagram photos on Twitter and your Facebook profile with one extra tap in the Instagram app, but there’s not built-in way to share pictures to a Facebook Page. Instead, just use Zapier to reduce taps and automatically share your pictures to every social network. You can even turn your Instagram photos into WordPress blog posts automatically, just using Zapier.
That’s how the Koombea team shares their Instagram photos with their fans.
“Now with a Zapier integration, I can immediately have any Instagram picture post as an independent link on our FB business page,” says Kate Swanberg. “It also helps to get more Instagram followers because the link redirects to the Instagram.”
It’s not just your own photos that matter. Whenever you find something graphical you’d like to share—an infographic, a beautifully designed business card or website, a workspace photo, or a picture of someone using your service—you can Pin it on your Pinterest page. Just use the Pinterest extension, select the image you want to share on any site, and put it in the board you’d like.
Zapier will do the rest. It’ll share your pinned photos with all of your other social networks. That way, you’ll build a following around your graphics on Pinterest, and still share the great stuff you find with the rest of your social networks. There’s never been an easier way to share any image you come across.
Tumblr’s one of the easiest ways to blog. Instead of needing to write a full-length blog post, you can just as easily share a picture, animated GIF, video, quote, audio recording, or perhaps a quote that inspires your team. Then, you can automatically share those posts with the rest of your social networks. And if everything’s not relevant to every network, you can use custom filters to share just the most important stuff.
That’s how the PetCeption team used Zapier to grow their Google+ following from just 275 followers to over 3,000 in just three months, by using Zapier custom filters to only share Tumblr posts with pictures or GIFs to Google+.
“We have set up a Zapier task that will automatically detect new posts from accounts we follow with either GIFs or pictures and repost that content to Buffer, where it’s then scheduled to be posted to our Google+ channel,” says Steve Swift. That’s helped them automate their social media presence and grow their audience at the same time.
Open Up Social Media to Every Employee
If boosting your social media presence with syndication doesn’t interest you, then a tactic introduced to us by UP Global‘s marketing director, Mitchell Cuevas, just might. Instead of pulling in content from an RSS feed, pull it in from your team. To do this, hook up a form app like Google Forms, JotForm, Formstack or Wufoo.
“The philosophy that I always operated under was the more people you can get involved in social media and storytelling of an organization, the better and more successful it’s going to be,” Cuevas says.
Share Your Latest Newsletter with a Public Link
Or you could start to pipe in a unique channel to your social media—your email newsletters. Did you know that email marketing systems like MailChimp offer links in their emails to view the content on an archived public webpage? With Zapier, each time you send out a new campaign, automatically share it across your social channels, too.
Promote Upcoming Events, Webinars and Meetups
There’s almost no better way to get people excited about your product than with a real-world event or meetup. Or, without having to get everyone together in the same location, you can have a webinar or public Google+ Hangout and host online training sessions about your product. Either way, you’ll want to make sure as many people know about your meeting as possible.
That’s where Zapier comes into your meeting plans. Just create a new event in your calendar, or a meeting app like Meetup or GoToWebinar, and Zapier will take care of the rest by sharing your events on your social networks. You can even have Zapier delay the post to make sure it’s seen by the most people possible.
Roll Out New Videos Right Away
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video’s surely worth far more. Whether it’s your latest commercials or product demos, videos of your meetups and conferences, or just fun music videos to brighten up your followers’ weeks, sharing video doesn’t have to be difficult.
Just upload your videos to YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia, and Zapier can automatically share them on your social networks. You’ll get the network effects of having your videos on the sites where people are already looking for videos, while still making sure your followers on other social networks see the videos.
Market New Products in Your Online Store
Whether your entire business is built around selling products, or you’re just selling limited edition merchandise with your branding, Zapier can help make sure everyone knows whenever you’ve added new products. That’s how the 80sTees team shares their latest products on Twitter, and in return started seeing results from social media that they’d never had before.
“We simply ignored Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr; it was too much work to post on there with the minuscule following we had,” says Kevin Stecko, 80sTees.com founder. “But once I found out about the Zapier integration with Shopify, I figured we might as well post our new products to these platforms. Since it’s a ‘set it and forget it’ implementation there was really no downside. Since we started posting new products, we’ve seen the most results with Twitter and have jumped into the platform more wholeheartedly. Without Zapier we would not have had that success.”
It even opened up new markets for their team.
“A customer retweeted one of our product posts to a licensor that we don’t currently deal with and essentially said ‘this is how you merchandise your property,'” Stecko says. “We are in discussions with that licensor to become a licensee. It’s a hit 80s cartoon that could have a ton of potential for us!”
All that from one simple retweet of an automated tweet.
Widely Distribute New WordPress Posts
A WordPress blog could be integrated with Zapier via RSS, but if you directly connect WordPress to Zapier there are a lot more options. You can, of course, share your posts automatically on social networks, but you can also be far more specific about how you share them. You can share posts by author, automatically adding the author’s name at the end of the Tweet. Or, you can set up separate social media accounts for different topics, and share your posts based on their tags and categories.
Then, you can even do more with your blog posts than just share them. You can actually republish them entirely on your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile using Zapier. It won’t help your site get more views, but it will help more people read your content.
The Cozy team uses these tools to share their posts to a vast number of LinkedIn groups for real estate, landlords, and more. Distributing manually took too much time, and never seemed to produce real results. Zapier changed that.
“It would take a few hours for our staff to do what Zapier does in seconds,” says Cozy’s community manager Lucas Hall. “Zapier lets us post unique messages to similar groups, while also sharing our latest content. We can test which campaigns work well and invoke conversations that last for weeks (sometimes months).”
Share Events as They Near
You’ve already shared your events as you added them. Now, it’s time to let Zapier remind people about the events as they approach. You can set up additional Zapier automations that’ll remind people about your events at specified amount of time, such as two days, before they start. That way, they’ll be sure to not forget even if it’s been awhile since you originally announced the event.
Bill DeBaun of DC Beer uses this trick to save hundreds of hours of work per year. Instead of individually posting event reminders on Twitter and Facebook—a 10-15 minute routine, he says—DeBaun uses Zapier to automatically remind people of the 100-plus events they make note of on their site.
“The ability to build in automatic reminder for events on our calendar makes our site that much more useful to the public, which gets a six-hour heads up on the best beer events in our area,” says DeBaun. “Zapier completely changed our event management for the better.”
“The more people you can get involved in social media and storytelling of an organization, the better and more successful it’s going to be.”- Mitchell Cuevas, UP Global marketing director
Make It Easier to Connect with Your Team
It’s too easy to miss the Tweets from the people you really want to keep in touch with, as they’re lost in the stream of everyone else’s posts. Zapier can help you make sure you never miss anything important by automatically posting the Tweets from the most important people into your team’s chat app.
That’s how the DigitalOcean team keeps track of what everyone in their team is talking about.
“Our Twitter-Slack Zap pulls in all the Tweets from the DOHQ Twitter List, that consists of all DO employees on Twitter,” says Daniel Zaltsman, the company’s social media director. “We see the tool as a very easy to manage, highly accessible, culture and happiness builder.”
Get to Know Who Follows You and Engage Right Away
It’s tough to know who’s following you just by checking your Twitter account, especially since you might have someone follow you and then unfollow you soon after. Zapier can help by automatically notifying you when you get a new follower, and keeping records of who’s followed you. You can then reach out to your followers and identify people you should follow back.
Automatically @replying to your new Twitter followers is typically not a good practice, but with a personal touch, it can be a great idea. That’s why the Koombea team uses Zapier to save all of their new followers to a Google Docs spreadsheet. Then, they can send a personal Tweet welcoming the new follower. As Kate Swanberg, growth marketing specialist at Koombea says, “I avoid robots doing this for me, but it’s a nice automation to have and can get a little personal with it.”
Find Happy Customers to Interview for a Case Study
Twitter can be a great tool for support, since people are so likely to Tweet about problems they have with your service or product. But it can also be a great place to find happy customers that love what you’re doing—the perfect people to interview and share their story with your networks.
You can use Zapier’s Twitter search integration to find people who use keywords such as like, love, and awesome when mentioning your brand name. Then, get Zapier to send you a message or log those Tweets to a spreadsheet or an collaboration app like Trello, so you and your team can follow up and see just why they love your brand. It’s the easiest way to find happy customers for case studies.
“Zapier completely changed our event management for the better.”- Bill DeBaun, DC Beer
Get Notified of New Twitter Search Result
Twitter Search can be incredibly powerful, as we’ve seen in our “Advanced Twitter Search Guide“. It’s always surprising how much you can get out of 140 character messages. When your search uncover really important Tweets, Zapier can help make sure you never miss any of them by sending them to your email, alerting you with a Pushbullet mobile notification, or letting you know in your chat app.
Krys Freeman of Koder IT uses this trick to automatically track common frustrations experienced by people riding AC Transit and BART. What used to previously required a full app for SMS-powered feedback now can automatically be made just by tracking Tweets with Zapier. It’s a way to help people improve their transportation and make their voices heard, and it’s automatic.
At Tallie, Kevin Van Heusen uses this automation to search for tweets not just about his company but for industry chatter, as well.
“(Zapier) provides some automated insights into what activity is happening in Twitter for our industry,” he says. “Instead of manually searching Twitter for interesting activity and Tweets, Zapier is helping automate bringing that activity to our attention.”
Narrow in Twitter Search Alerts to a Geographic Area
Local businesses have one disadvantage with online marketing: the internet’s global, and a local business can only serve one area. You might have fans everywhere from Bangkok to Boston, but as much as you like having a global audience, it’s the people next door that really matter.
So, instead of keeping up with all of your mentions, use Zapier’s “Search & Geo Mention” automation with Twitter to show just the Tweets from your hometown or nearby you—the size of the area is your choice. You can get live notifications whenever someone nearby mentions you, giving you a chance to reach out and make sure they actually walk through your door.
Keep a Close Eye on a Twitter Account or Twitter List
There are so many important people that you should be listening to: your investors, your competitors, your best customers, thought leaders in your industry, and the business next door. And maybe the National Weather Service, your local traffic reports, and that newspaper that promised to cover you this week. You’ll likely lose all their Tweets in the steam if you simply follow them.
Instead, you can make sure you’re seeing just those Tweets by getting Zapier to automatically put them in your team’s chat app, email them to you, or send you push notifications. Add in some filters to cut through the random tweets that don’t relate to you, and you’ll have a far smarter way to use Twitter.
“We see the (Twitter-Slack Zap) as a very easy to manage, highly accessible, culture and happiness builder.”- Jesse Chase, DigitalOcean creative director
Keep Tabs on Mentions on Facebook
Facebook search isn’t as advanced as Twitter’s, but with 3rd party apps like Mention, you can still keep track of every time someone mentions your company on Facebook. You’ll still need to manually reply to them, as there’s no way to automatically reply to Facebook posts, but at least you’ll know who to contact.
Plus, since it’s on Facebook, people will be more surprised when you actually do reach out. You just might be able to get more Facebook likes and a more engaged audiance thanks to the personal touch.
See Instagram Photos Right Away
Perhaps your company’s more graphical. You like to find great pictures on Instagram—perhaps travel photos from your team, product pictures from your users, or shots of your business location—so you can like, comment, and share them. Don’t wait for them to show up in your Instagram feed during lunch; let Zapier bring them to you.
Zapier can automatically find new Instagram photos with a specific tag or ones taken in a specific location, and put them in the place you’ll see them fastest: your email inbox, your team chat app, or anywhere else you want. Then, if you’d like to re-share the pictures, that’s only another Zap away.
Get Notifications when You’re Mentioned on Reddit
Reddit may well be the strangest social network. Best known for cat photos, memes, and pun-filled comment threads, Reddit is also filled with niche communities about every topic possible. There’s groups for photographers, lawyers, DIY tips, and almost anything else you can think of. And when your site gets mentioned in one of those groups, it’s time for you to reach out.
There’s far too much content posted on Reddit everyday to watch it all yourself. Instead, let Zapier watch Reddit for you. Then, whenever your company or product is mentioned, it’ll let you know in the apps you’re already using.
Capture Mentions of Your Brand on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Ever wanted an easy way to look back and see who’s mentioned your brand on social networks this month? Or, perhaps, keep a record to calculate how many times you’re mentioned each month and compare your stats over time? Zapier can help you with that, too.
Just set up a Twitter or Facebook search that automatically saves each of your mentions to a Google Docs sheet, Dropbox text file, Evernote note, or anywhere else you’d like to keep up with them. You can then easily turn that into a page that showcases your satisfied users or the best praise for your brand, and have a real metric to see how automation is helping your social media outreach.
See How Often You Share on Social Media
How many times did you Tweet yesterday? Last week? Last month? What time do you usually Tweet?
Chances are you don’t know. But you should. If you’re serious about improving your social media performance, you should know how often you Tweet, when you Tweet, and how that worked out. Just have each of your Tweets listed on your Calendar or in a spreadsheet sorted by time, and you’ll have a quick way to see how much you Tweet. Very soon, you’ll be able to see if you have any gaps in your Twitter schedule, and can see directly how much you Tweet on any given day.
Save Mentions from Just One User on Twitter
There are some Twitter followers that are a bit more important for your brand: your sponsors, partner companies, investors, and more. The things they say about your company are important. You may want to keep a record of what they Tweeted, and you’ll very likely want to get notified when they mention your brand so you can share their post. And on the flip side, you might want to keep track of when you mention them, too.
To do so, use this search query, setting up new Zapier automation for each account and keyword you want to track:
keyword from:username or
"phrase here" from:username.
Save Photos to Dropbox
You’re sharing photos on Facebook and Instagram, but it’s so easy to end up not keeping a copy of the actual photo you shared. You might have the original picture, but the shared picture with text, filters and more was likely tweaked on a mobile device and the only official copy of that picture lives on the social network.
That’s why you should have Zapier backup your social pictures for you. It can watch each of your accounts for new photos, then save them away safely in Dropbox, Google Drive, Box or any other storage service. Then, if you ever want to share that picture again, the original is just a click away.
Keep Your Pins
Most people aren’t saving bookmarks of their favorite sites, taking screenshots of their favorite images, and making sure they save the stuff they find. Instead, they’re sharing links to the sites on Twitter and pinning pictures on Pinterest. If you’d rather make those shares more permanent, you can have Zapier save your pinned sites and images wherever you want.
Zapier can watch for anything you pin, or just for stuff that’s pinned on one specific board. It’ll then copy that to the app of your choice: Dropbox or other file storage services, your notebook, and more. Then, you can easily do more with your pinned sites in the future, perhaps turning them into a collage or using them as content for future blog posts.
Back Up Your Tweets
They’re just 140 character messages, but sometimes they’re important. You keep your blog posts forever. Tweets should be no different, but Twitter’s interface makes it hard to find your older posts. So make your own archive instead.
All you’ll have to do is pick where you’d like to save your Tweets—to a spreadsheet, plain text document, or your notebook app—and Zapier will do the rest. You’ll then have an easy way to go back and see the best of your team’s Twitter work.
Save Your Favorited Tweets
It’s not just your team’s Tweets that are important—there’s also those great Tweets you come across from others that you’d like to save forever. Twitter lets you favorite them, but if you favorite a lot of Tweets, they’ll end up as difficult to rediscover as your own Tweets.
Here’s another place an archive will come in handy. Zapier can watch for everything you favorite, archive it to a safe place, and you’ll be able to easily rediscover anything you’ve favorited whenever you want.
Does your team have any unique ways you automate your social media work? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Zapier marketer Danny Schreiber also contributed to this post.
Credits: Photo courtesy Joe St.Pierre