Too busy to tweet? You’re a liar.

Everything that happens on any social media channel can be categorized as one of two things: content or conversation. Content builds a following, conversation builds a relationship. Content is difficult and time-consuming, conversation is fun.

So, here’s an idea – outsource and automate content so you can focus on having conversations.

I know, automation sounds a lot like spam. And mostly, I agree. But it’s not impossible to automate content that is timely and valuable. If you can hit that sweet spot, your audience won’t care that it is automated.

For example –great fundraising blogs like 101Fundraising, Fundraising Detective, or The Agitator (to name only a few) provide killer content on a regular basis. They’ve never published anything that I wouldn’t share with my followers. So regularly I’d go to their latest post, grab the URL, head to twitter, write a tweet, paste the URL and send. In total, maybe 5 minutes of work. Not much, but over a span of years it adds up. Then multiply that by 10 or 15 more great blogs, and I’ve spent a pile of time compiling content before I’ve had a single conversation.

So, why not automate that process, and save myself hours a week? I’ll save time and look like a twitter ninja, the bloggers get credit and traffic, and my followers get fresh content. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

Here’s one way to do it. This is a 5-step system I use for Twitter.

Step 1: Go to Tweriod to get a (free) report of when your followers are most active. This is important, because you don’t want to send content when nobody is paying attention.

Step 2: Go to Buffer and sign up (for free). Basically, Buffer allows you to create a queue of tweets to be released in the time and order that you specify. In ‘Settings’ you can schedule Buffer to release a few tweets at the time that Tweriod says your audience is most active. Nifty eh?

Step 3: Go to IFTTT and sign up (for free). You’ll need to ‘activate’ your Twitter account with IFTTT by clicking on “Channels” in the upper right, then clicking on the Twitter icon, and allowing IFTTT access to Twitter. Still with me?

Step 4: Go to your favourite blog, like say… www.101fundraising.org. Click on the RSS icon on the right, then copy the URL in your address bar. It looks like this – http://www.101fundraising.org/feed/

Step 5: Go back to IFTTT where we’re going to create an “If this, then that” trigger. Click on ‘Create a Task’.

5.1 Click the big blue ‘this’
5.2 Click the RSS icon (third row, first on left)
5.3 Click ‘New Feed Item’. Paste the URL you copied in Step 4, click ‘Create Trigger’
5.4 Click ‘That’
5.5 Click the Buffer icon (first row, third from left)
5.6 Click ‘Add to Buffer’
5.7 Customization time! You can add static info that will appear around the text that will be auto-populated in the future. For first timers, I’d recommend adding “RT @101Fundraising” in front of the entry title, followed by entry URL.
5.8 Click ‘Create Action’
5.9 Click ‘Create Task’

Automating a handful of content isn’t a silver bullet, but it will ensure you are pushing out fresh content on a regular basis. Your account will appear active and you’ll literally be starting conversations in your sleep. Remember though – you can’t just set it and forget it, because without the conversation, you have no relationship. And without the relationships, you have no value.

Here are some ideas for how to put automation into practice to save you time:

If a specific hashtag like #RedCross is used, have an email sent to your inbox.
If someone uses a combination of keywords like “homeless” and “Toronto” have it sent to Evernote. You could review the file once a day to keep on top of trending news.
Have all of your tweets archived in Evernote, or photos archived to Dropbox just in case.
Auto-thank anyone that #FF’s you
If tomorrow’s forecast calls for rain, get a text reminding you to take an umbrella

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

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