Yesterday Buffer released a feature that I am certain has been one of their most requested, the ability to link RSS feeds.
If you’re not a Buffer user, it’s not a difficult service to understand. Buffer allows you to schedule posts to multiple Twitter, App.net, Google+ Pages, Facebook profiles, pages or groups, and LinkedIn profiles, pages and groups. You can connect as many accounts as you wish and it makes managing the flow of information to multiple accounts painless. You set a schedule for each account individually and simply line up the messages you want to go out. You can set a specific time for specific messages as well.
I use Buffer. I tend to do most of my reading in the morning, so anything that I find that might be of interest to those who follow me gets spread out over the course of the day. For one account, my Stop Child Slavery twitter account, that schedule may stretch out over several days. What I’m automating with Buffer is the release of information that I’ve personally curated. I have read each article. I am certain not everyone follows that practice, it’s a personal choice. I hope it improves the quality of the experience of those who choose to follow me.
Enter The RSS Feed
The introduction of the RSS feed as a data source will enable a new kind of behavior at Buffer. Users will now be able to simply enter the RSS feed from a blog and with a few simple clicks, tweet every post that gets created. I don’t know about you, but there is not a blog on this planet that I would choose to tweet about every time they post. I don’t even send every post I write here out to Twitter. And while it seems clear to me that this practice is quite a bit less than stellar, I see Twitter accounts all the time that appear to use this practice. Every few minutes tweets go out from the same sources. They are not accounts I choose to follow. If I want to see every post from Mashable, I’ll follow Mashable. These automated content Twitter accounts are not adding value. They’re creating noise.
Thankfully, this is more of a behavior issue than a technology issue. The way Buffer has implemented RSS does not automatically trigger the inclusion of every post in an RSS Feed into your Buffer queue. But it does make it very easy to do. Instead, Buffer brings the posts into a separate tab and places and “Add” button next to the post. This allows you to select which of the posts you want to distribute to your social stream. I think this has some value, but it’s not a whole lot faster than simply using an RSS reader like Feedly and using the built in Buffer tools there. And unlike Feedly, it doesn’t provide an easy way to read the post before making your selection. My personal opinion? The way this has been implemented is going to significantly increase the noise on Twitter.
If you’re a Buffer App fan, there are more intelligent and human ways to get the efficiencies that Buffer is trying to bring with its RSS implementation? There are a few I’d like to suggest.
Use IFTTT to trigger posts to Buffer. I’ve always felt favorited tweets were a missed opportunity for curation. So, this morning I created a IFTTT script that triggers a buffer post based on a favorited tweet in my account. If I favorite a tweet in the future, it will send a commented post to Buffer to go into my @jeffturner Twitter queue. This will be content I’ve curated. But with one click, I’ll insure that the favorited tweet gets shared. It’s a simple recipe to create, but you can grab it below if you’d like. And there are a slew of IFTTT recipes for Buffer.
Use an intelligent RSS Feed reader like Feedly. While I love the ease that Buffer is attempting to bring to this process, unless you have a unique RSS feed that contains only content you’d love to share (see an example below), the right way to curate is to read the posts first. Doing this in the feed section of buffer is not elegant. Feedly is my feed reader of choice and it makes curating content from the sources I like as sample as can be. Sharing from there to Buffer is integrated into Feedly, and has been for several years.
Use an RSS Feed that is unique to you. For example, brokers who use RealSatisfied have access to an office level RSS feed of the testimonials generated by the RealSatisfied service. This is a unique RSS feed that does not exist anywhere else. Here is an example of the RSS feed for the West Augusta Office of Meybohm Realtors®.
As you can see above, today this unique feed brings in the name of the person who left the testimonial and a link to the agent profile page, but it does not bring in the name of the Realtor® receiving the testimonial. In the back end of buffer, it is simple to click on the link and see who received the testimonial, and insert their name or Twitter handle into the Buffer post with the broker’s own comment. If you’re a broker using RealSatisfied, this is a nice way of utilizing an RSS feed that is unique to you right out of the box. And RealSatisfied will be looking at ways to improve this broker feed.
Social automation at any level is a bad thing in a lot of people’s minds. It doesn’t have to be. As with everything else, our behavior makes a tool good or bad. If your social streams are valuable to you, automation can be a huge help in creating content. Just don’t let the easy aspects of any tool trick you into falling down an automation rabbit hole. Add some value. If your social signal looks like it’s coming off of an assembly line, you’re not needed.
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