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Granicus Insights

Automating Social Media Updates by Email

Your social media posts fly by your audience in a flash, but what if you could use other direct touch points such as email to drive more of your audience back to your social content? With constantly shifting social media algorithms, it’s impossible to ensure that all of your followers on those services will see the content your organization posts.

To keep communities informed and drive more engagement with the social content organizations post, many organizations use Communications Cloud to automate the sending of social content from sites such as Twitter, YouTube, and Flicker directly to the inboxes of their email subscribers. Using Communications Cloud automation, this process can be set up once and fully automated in a matter of just a few steps.

Note: Facebook does not currently support RSS feeds of page content. We will monitor this functionality and update this article if Facebook fixes this issue.

How it Looks

The Page Watch Type tells Communications Cloud what format of content to look for. For YouTube and Flickr, Page Watch uses an RSS feed. Twitter, however, has its own type. 

Page Watch emails created for YouTube and Flickr include a list of recent updates, each linking to a new image or video.

Page Watch emails created for Twitter include a list of the actual tweets, each with the following elements:

  • Profile Image and Name – Both elements link to the user’s profile page.
  • Details –  This link brings subscribers to the specific tweet page itself.
  • Retweet – This link lets the subscriber retweet the tweet, sharing the tweet with their own followers. The subscriber will be asked to login in order to retweet. 

Before You Begin: Find your Content

When setting up a Page Watch topic for social media sites, you need to tell Page Watch where to look. For sites like YouTube or Flickr, you must provide the URL for the appropriate RSS feed. For Twitter, you need to provide the user name for the appropriate Twitter feed.  

Note:

You can configure Page Watch to watch multiple URLs of the same type within a single topic. For example, you can watch four HTML web pages within one topic, but you cannot watch an RSS feed and an HTML page within one topic because these are two different Page Watch types. You would need to split the HTML URL and the RSS feed into two separate topics. Requiring that all Page Watch URLs are the same type reduces Page Watch errors and undesirable behavior.

When you enter a URL in the Page Watch URL field, Communications Cloud validates that the URL matches the selected Page Watch Type. If the the URL does not match the selected type, Communications Cloud displays an error message, but will not send out a change report for the topic.

Twitter

Go to Twitter, select the user name for your organization or any applicable Twitter feeds you wish to include and copy the handle, which is preceded by an 'at' (@) symbol.

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YouTube

First, determine whether you want to watch a YouTube channel or a user account. Note that you can have multiple channels under a single user account. When you watch a user account, Page Watch will send updates across all channels for that user. 

For either option, you will need the ID for the user account or channel you want to watch. If you do not know your user or channel ID, you can find instructions for finding these IDs in this support article from YouTube .

Once you have an ID for your YouTube content, you must prepare the Page Watch URL for that content. The URL will have one of the following formats:

  • If you are watching a YouTube user account:
    https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?user_id=USER_ID 

    Replace USER_ID in the above URL with your YouTube User ID.

  • If you are watching a YouTube channel:
    https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=CHANNEL_ID 

    Replace CHANNEL_ID in the above URL with your YouTube Channel ID.

Go to instructions for setting up a Page Watch topic

Flickr

The Page Watch URL for Flickr will look like this: 

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Replace the FLICKRID text at the end of the URL with your organization’s Flickr ID. To find this, simply login to your Flickr account. Click on You and then click on Photostream.
 

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From this page, your ID will be the string of numbers, letters, and symbols at the end of the URL of your Photostream, and should look something like this:
 

Step 1: Create a Social Media Category

We recommend creating a category that will house individual topics for each social media service you want to use. If you’re not familiar with creating Categories, click here for instructions. Many organizations title this Category, “Organization Name on Social Media,” or simply, “Social Media”.
 

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Step 2: Create Social Media Page Watch Topics

Next, you’ll need to create a Topic for each of your social media accounts, which will allow your email subscribers to be automatically notified any time your organization posts something new to the services you select (like Twitter, YouTube, or Flickr). Once these topics are set up, each time you post to that service, that update (or a bundle of updates from a period of time) will automatically be emailed to your subscribers.

To create a Page Watch topic for a social media site:

  1. On the Account Area toolbar, click Topics.
  2. Click on the appropriate topic.
    Notes:
    • Bulletins sent through Page Watch will be categorized with this topic and sent to the subscribers of this topic.
    • If you want to set up a new topic with Page Watch, you can find instructions in the Creating and Editing Topics article.
  3. On the Topic Information page, scroll down to the Page Watch Settings section and set Page Watch Enabled to Yes.
  4. Keep Page Watch Suspended set to No.
  5. Select a Page Watch Type
    • If you are setting up Page Watch for Twitter, select Twitter.
    • If you are setting up Page Watch for YouTube or Flickr, select RSS/Atom Feed.
  6. Tell Page Watch where to look for content:
    • For Twitter, enter your Twitter User Name.
      Note: If you want Communications Cloud to watch more than one page or feed for the specified topic, click Add User Name.
    • For YouTube or Flickr, enter the URL in the Page Watch URL field.
      Notes:
      • Your URL must contain the scheme name (e.g., http://).
      • To see the page you have entered, click the green "Preview" button next to the URL field.
      • If you want Communications Cloud to watch more than one page or feed for the specified topic, click Add URL.
  7. Set the Number of Page Watch Results to Save for this topic.
    Notes:
    • This setting does not affect Page Watch bulletin drafts; it determines how many results summaries are listed in the Page Watch Results list for this topic.
    • This setting works together with the Page Watch Schedule. For example, if you have Page Watch set to run once a day and set the Number of Page Watch Results to Save to 5, Communications Cloud will store the last 5 Page Watch results or the changes for the last 5 days.
  8. Select a Page Watch Schedule.
  9. Select if you want to Bundle Page Watch Messages. When selected, only one message is created for all new updates when Page Watch checks the page.
    Tip: Always enable bundling for a Twitter Page Watch topic. This combines each individual Twitter change made between Page Watch runs into one email. If you disable bundling, your account will draft a separate email for each change that Page Watch notices. This would bombard your subscribers with emails. Enabling bundling also provides the Account Name macro and Topic Name macro as the default subject line, making it a clean presentation of the information. For more information on macros you can click here.
  10. To enable Auto Send, set Page Watch Auto Send to Yes

    Important: Twitter is the only thing that Communications Cloud both consumes and posts to. It is possible that your organization could loop content by automatically posting to and Page Watching the same Twitter feed. To prevent sending the same information in a loop, be sure that you are not using auto-send on a Twitter Page Watch topic that you also use to post content to Twitter.

  11. Click Save to save your changes.

Step 3: Associate your social media topics with your category

When all of your social media topics have been set up, associate them with your social media category. You can find instructions for doing so in the Modifying Topics Associated with a Category article.

Best Practices

One of the best parts about automating your social media updates, is that once they've been set up successfully once, your automatic emails will continue to function indefinitely with little to no maintenance on your organization's behalf. The following items are a few of the best practices that we strongly recommend taking into consideration and enacting when setting up your social media automation for the first time.

Scheduling

If you expect to post any social media service frequently – create a custom Page Watch schedule to run daily or weekly, so as to not overwhelm your subscribers with a new email every time your organization posts to your social media properties. Also, you’ll want to bundle the bulletins as well, meaning all of your social media posts will be contained within one email, rather than an individual email for each post. To enable bundling for one of your social media Topics, access the settings for that topic. More information on how to do that can be found here.

Error Messages

When sending automated social media emails, you should be sure to enable Error messages for one or more of the administrators associated with each of your social media topics. This way, you’ll be notified of any issues that could hinder the automation. If a social media service changes the way their RSS feeds are structured, or there's a problem with any of the content or formatting, and no administrators are set up to receive Errors, your automated messages could fail without you knowing. Keep in mind that auto-send Topics need a subject line and at least one subscriber to send successfully.

There are three types of error emails you may receive when trying to use Page Watch on a Twitter account, if there is a problem with the amount of tweets your are watching, a problem with your credentials, or a problem with Twitter. Each of the possible error emails is outlined below.

  • Rate Limited – Twitter limits the amounts of tweets that can be viewed via their API structure. If you are culling too many tweets from Twitter, your account will be rate limited.
  • No Credentials – If you accidentally delete or enter the wrong credentials, the system will inform you that you need to adjust the credentials for your Page Watch Twitter account.
  • Twitter is Down – If Twitter is over capacity or down, you will receive an email to inform you that Twitter is down and that the system was not able to pull Tweets from your desired account(s).

Formatting

During the process of setting up your social media automation, it's valuable to spend some time on your Topic bulletin template design. Consider adding some formatting, like centering your content and increasing the font size. Simply access the HTML in the body of each social media Topic bulletin template, and replace the existing HTML with your preferred design style. If you need assistance with this, your Client Success consultant can help provide you with the necessary code elements.

Footers

Create a new footer to use with your automated social media updates emails. Keep in mind, that you must be an Account Administrator to do this.) When you do, be sure that you use the “Topic Specific Unsubscribe” macro (more information on macros can be found here.) This way – if a subscriber chooses to unsubscribe from your automated social media topic, they won't be unsubscribing from all the Topics within their entire account.

Follow the above best practices, and you can be certain your subscribers are having the best experience possible, while your organization provides them with the information they both want and need.