HootSuite 101: Automating Social Media Posts Using RSS Feeds

HootSuite 101: Automating Social Media Posts Using RSS Feeds

Keeping up a steady stream of relevant social media content is tough. The most interesting feeds are ones that have a good mix of original content, re-posting existing content, and replying to comments and questions from readers.

Obviously, creating your own content and replying to readers is up to you. This tutorial will help you automate posts from an RSS feed using HootSuite. By doing this, you can have relevant posts made directly to your feed from blogs that have content your readers want to see.

If you don’t have a HootSuite account, head over to hootsuite.com and sign up for free. You can do a lot with a free account, and even if you do nothing else, you can use it for this one purpose. For this tutorial, it is assumed you have a HootSuite account with a social media account connected to it.

The first step is going into the RSS/Atom Feeds interface. In the left sidebar, select Settings > RSS/Atom.

hootsuite101-rss-step1

You will then see the RSS/Atom Feeds window. In the image below, you’ll see a feed I have already connected.

hootsuite101-rss-step2

Before you can connect a feed to your social media account, you need the URL to the feed. In this case, we want to set up a feed to Thinking Outside The Sandbox. It can be different for each case, but for this site, look near the top right of the page, and you’ll see an “RSS” button. Click it. You’ll be taken to a URL that has some RSS information, but what we want is the URL in the address bar:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/totsbusiness

Now that you have it, go back to HootSuite, and click the “+” button on the RSS/Atom Feeds window.

hootsuite101-rss-step3

The most important items are the “Feed URL” and the “Network to send feed items to” fields. Put the URL we previously found into the Feed URL field and select the social media network you want to send posts to.

The rest of the fields are configuration options for how and when posts should appear. My recommended setting are shown above. You want to avoid having too many automated posts, so having them sent out one at a time at 24-hour intervals seems like a good general rule. If you have a very busy feed, you could make it more often — use your judgement. Remember you can always change the settings later.

Press “Save Feed”, and you will return to the previous screen, with your newly added feed in place.

hootsuite101-rss-step4

Be sure the on/off switch beside the feed is turned to ON. That’s it! Now all you have to do is wait, and you’ll start seeing posts made automatically on a regular basis.

A free HootSuite account allows you to configure up to two RSS/Atom feeds. If you need more, purchasing one of their professional accounts is an option.

As with anything to do with your website, social media, and online marketing, testing is important. Watch your feed closely to make sure the content being posted is what you want to see and what your readers are interested in. Is it engaging your readers, and creating new followers? Try a number of different feeds, at varying intervals and see what works.

Most of all, enjoy the fact that some of your posts are being handled for you. Keep up a steady stream of your own content, as well as consistent responses to readers, and you’ll find that managing your social media feeds can be a rewarding task, and not a tedious one.

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