You work hard to write relevant, interesting, engaging content for your blog so it’s hard not to get frustrated when only 10 people see it.
Sharing your articles on social media is an effective way to get more eyes on your post. But after manually updating their social profiles a few times, clients will often ask me, “Isn’t there a way to automatically share my blog posts on social media?”
And the answer is “yes, there is, BUT…”
Yes, you can automate sharing your blog but you can’t automate building a connection with your audience. To market effectively via social media, you actually need to show up and interact with people: read what others are posting, respond to questions and comments, share timely info, and join the conversation.
With that caveat out of the way, three of my favourite tools for automatically sharing blog posts are Twitterfeed, HootSuite and the Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP) plugin for WordPress.
Twitterfeed is the easiest tool of the three to set up and configure. It uses your blog’s RSS feed to monitor for new posts (if your site is built on WordPress, this feed is automatically created for you). Once a new post is detected, Twitterfeed shares that post to all of the social media accounts that you’ve selected.
You have some flexibility about what information is shared. You can select whether to share the post title, description or both. You can also use keyword filters to automatically include or exclude posts that contain specific keywords.
Twitterfeed does have its drawbacks. The main one is that your social media posts will all use the same format. Whether you select title only or a title with description, that content will be shared in the exact same way on all of your social media accounts. You can’t customize the content to suit each social platform or modify the content on a post-by-post basis.
Also, Twitterfeed can only post to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn personal profiles. While it can post to Facebook Pages, Twitterfeed does not support Google+ or a LinkedIn company page.
HootSuite is a popular social network manager that does MUCH more than just automatically post blog content, including schedule updates, monitor mentions and conversations, and track and analyze your activity across accounts.
As an automatic posting tool, it works similarly to Twitterfeed in that it links to your RSS feed. It doesn’t have quite as much flexibility as Twitterfeed to select what content is shared and it cannot be customized for individual posts but it does allow you to configure different settings for each social network.
HootSuite also supports LinkedIn company pages and Google+ Pages (although not Google+ personal profiles) so you can share your blog posts across more networks than you can with Twitterfeed.
Although it has many strengths, auto-posting from RSS is one of HootSuite’s weaker features so if that’s all you need, go with Twitterfeed. However, if you’re thinking of using HootSuite for its scheduled posts, account management or social analytics, it’s probably worth the trade-off to have a little less customization with your auto posts in order to keep all your social media activity in one tool. Plus, with HootSuite you can manually schedule messages so you can write custom follow-up tweets to promote your blog content over multiple days.
Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP) Pro
If sharing to a Google+ profile or having full control over the content of your auto posts is important to you, then SNAP Pro is your best option (either in conjunction with HootSuite or on its own).
SNAP Pro takes more time (and technical ease) to configure than either Twitterfeed or HootSuite but it supports the widest array of social networks including Delicious, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and YouTube.
With the paid version you can set up auto posting to an unlimited number of social profiles, including Google+ Pages and personal profiles and LinkedIn profile and company pages. (The free version also gives you full control over your auto post content but links to fewer social media accounts.)
SNAP Pro differs from the Twitterfeed and HootSuite services in that it’s a paid WordPress plugin that integrates directly with your WordPress blog site ($49 at the time of this writing). It also has the most features so we will highlight only a few here. Check out the plugin FAQ on their website for the full feature list.
Unlike the other tools, SNAP allows complete customization of the content of your automatic blog posts. You start by configuring default message text for each of your social media accounts which can include not only the standard title, url and description but also the featured image, excerpt, body text, post tags, post categories, author name and site name. You can stagger the posting times so that your message doesn’t go out to all your social networks at the same time.
When you write a new blog post, these default settings will appear in a dialog box on the Edit Post screen. You can choose to publish the post without changing anything OR you can customize the auto post settings for any or all of your social media accounts. For example, you can choose not to promote a particular post to your Google+ profile by simply unchecking the checkbox next to that account.
Instead of relying on the templated message format, you can write a unique message for each account. For instance, if your blog post title isn’t captivating enough to use in a tweet, you can write a custom message to be used only on Twitter, while all your other accounts still use their default templates. This gives you total control over the text and image in every social media update so you can tailor them to both the medium and content.
If you want to promote your blog post more than once in a given day or week, you also have the option to manually re-post an update with a single click (with or without editing the message content first). While it is a manual process, this saves you from having to go to HootSuite or the individual social media sites themselves to schedule follow-up messages.
The soon to be released version 3 includes interesting new features like automatically re-posting older, existing blog posts and scheduling social media updates for an exact time (instead of tying the updates to the time the blog post is published).
What About Follow-Up Messages?
All three of these tools automatically announce new blog posts and are triggered when a post is published for the first time. None of them includes the ability to automatically schedule multiple messages to be published over the course of a day or week; this remains a manual process.
To promote your blog post multiple times, consider using a tool like HootSuite or Buffer where you can write and schedule your tweets/updates for the week. This is also an excellent task to outsource to an eager intern or dependable assistant (virtual or otherwise).
While these are the tools we’ve used most successfully with our clients, there are many tools and services for auto posting and managing your social media. If you’re ready to start automatically sharing your blog posts, start by listing the features that are most important to you. Most of these tools regularly add new features so check out their websites and don’t be afraid to give them a test run. If you’d like assistance setting up your automatic social media posts, get in touch with us anytime.
Do you automatically share your blog posts on social media? What tools do you use to auto post? Share with us in the comments below.