Can we save time with automation?

Many clients have asked us about automating digital marketing. No matter how you approach it, it takes time to plan your marketing strategy, write blog articles, take photos, make graphics, post out to your various social media channels, send bulk email, or manage paid ads. It all takes work. There is no silver bullet where you press a single button, and it auto-magically happens.

That said, we have researched a couple of time-saving solutions that may be of interest to our clients.

Blog2Social

We researched WordPress Plugins that could auto-post blog articles out to social media. There are several plugins on the market. Blog2Social seemed to offer the most social channel connection, including Instagram, which most solutions do not have. They have a free and paid version. We tested both the free and paid version. You unlock a lot more tools with the paid version. We have hooked up multiple social channels to the plugin and tested the functionality.

Pricing

The free version has the auto-post option deactivated. You have to pay to play.  The paid version also unlocks more social channel options. The Pro-Level opens the Google MyBusiness connection. You’ll need the Business-Level to connect to your business Instagram page. You can check out the pricing on the Blog2Social website. It is pretty affordable.

Auto-Posting

We are very style and brand conscious, so we do not recommend auto-posting as you can’t customize for each channel. It also shares the posts to all your social channels at the same time. If someone is following you on multiple channels, they are going to get hit with the same content at the same time. This type of posting is not an ideal marketing strategy.

Edit & Schedule

Blog2Social does offer a slightly more manual approach in which you can edit the social media post content and schedule when each post will be published. If it worked correctly, this feature would be an incredible asset. It would give you the control you want, for all the social channels that you use, and all the tools would be available in WordPress, making it a one-stop-shop.  Unfortunately, we found some bugs.  We’ve notified them of our findings, in hopes that they resolve the issues.

Bugs we found

  1. When we edited the posts and selected SAVE DRAFT, then navigated away, when we returned to see if the changes held, it appeared that the draft didn’t save. All of our work was lost.
  2. We’d like to see an option not to send to specific social channels added to the send options. For example, perhaps a user will want to repost to Facebook, but not to linked In.
  3. When I change the image and then post to Linked In, it still uses my featured image instead of the selected image.
  4. Scheduling a post doesn’t appear to work at all.

UX of the Blog2Social plugin

The UX design of the Blog2Social plugin leaves something to be desired. It sprinkles unattractive tools throughout your WordPress, but if it works well, then we guess it is worth it. Maybe they will improve it in the future.

Set-Up & Configuration

It does take time to set up and configure all social channels, but once you do. You will have a great time-saving tool. If you are a part of the LaLa Community, we can assist you with this task.

Learn more about Blog2Social >

RSS Feeds

Recently, we’ve had a couple of clients ask about RSS Feeds. Our initial response was to ask if RSS Feeds are still relevant? If so, how do people use them? The answer is they do still exist and are used in a variety of ways.

RSS Reader

You can use an RSS Reader App (or RSS Feed Aggregator) to access them. Google shut down its RSS Reader, and Wired Magazine says that they are due for a comeback. So, there seem to be some conflicting views on the future of RSS Feeds.

You can search for the ‘Best RSS Reader Apps’ and find a slew of available options. There is likely a small monthly subscription fee for the app. It could be a time-saver for consuming information.

WordPress.com offers a free RSS Reader for articles published on websites that were either built on a WordPress.com or Independently hosted WordPress websites that are connected to WordPress.com via the JetPack Plugin.

Learn more about WordPress.com >

RSS Feed on WordPress websites

All WordPress Websites automatically come with an RSS feed. The URL is yourdomainname.com/feed/

MailChimp RSS Campaign

You can set up an RSS campaign to email new blog posts to your subscribed contacts. It takes a little time to set up, but in general, pretty straight forward.

Learn more about how to do it >

Our RSS Experiment

In our experiment, we found that it only sent the text content from the blog article. The text included: the blog title, which included a link to the article, an excerpt from the blog article, and a ‘Read on >’ link. We set our campaign to send the email once a week. Within that week, we had published two posts. When the email automatically sent, it contained text content for both blog articles.

Adding Images

Ideally, it would be great to include the blog article’s featured image in the email content. We are currently researching the solution to turn this option into a reality. I’ll follow up here with an update as we progress in our research and experimentation.