Automate posts to linkedin, twitter, google+, RSS

Microsoft Flow & Apple Workflow - Automating RSS Feeds & posts to Twitter, Linkedin, Google+

Since the demise of Yahoo pipes if you wanted to automate RSS feeds and posts to Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, blog posts etc things have been a bit complicated. There are alternatives for automation like Zapier, IFTT, automate.io and social management tools like Hootsuite, IFTT, Buffer etc but you will have to pay and the functionality is limited. Now you can use Microsoft Flow, Microsoft ToDo and Apple workflow to automate. Combining these tools make such automation even more flexible and usable although it does take a little bit of thought and effort to set up so that it works for you. 

Unfortunately, Microsoft doesnt make things easy as Flow is not well documented. And support is problematic as a Flow by its very nature will use multiple Microsoft products but support is by product group. This combined with the new 365 "Get Help" support model is a disaster and means you will need to put up with multiple calls and emails before you actually "Get Help" if at all. That said there are a few good agents out there that will try to help.

Flow is missing some basic functionality which results in having to use workarounds which in turn results in having to run more flows than should be required. Whilst Microsoft is quite generous with the number of Flows included this maybe a consideration as you may find you dont have enough flows included in your plan.

It seems that Microsoft isnt thinking through license models as similar issues are occurring with Skype for Business and Azure. Functionality that was previously included in 365 like anonymous webspace has been moved to Azure requiring you to pay separately for the functionality and support; the Skype for Business license model will require you to pay for fake users each with a calling plan addon if you want to have PSTN transfers (Even a user with Communication Credits cant have PSTN Transfers without a calling plan).

Microsoft Flow - RSS feeds

 

In Microsoft flow you can set up an RSS feed as a trigger. This means when a new RSS item is published that a flow can be triggered, and the item used in the flow for example for the link & title to be posted on a social media account.

Unfortunately, you still cant have multiple triggers in a flow or replace a trigger with a different trigger once you have created a flow. This means that either you will have to have a separate flow for each rss feed or use something like rssmix to combine RSS feeds and then use the combined feed as a trigger.

You can add conditions to filter out the stuff you dont want such as particular sites in url, words in title etc. 

@or(contains(triggerBody()?['primaryLink'], 'unwanteddomain1'),contains(triggerBody()?['primaryLink'], 'unwanteddomain2'),contains(triggerBody()?['primaryLink'], 'unwanteddomain3'),contains(triggerBody()?['primaryLink'], 'unwantedword1'),contains(triggerBody()?['primaryLink'], 'unwantedword2'),contains(triggerBody()?['primaryLink'], 'unwantedword3'),contains(triggerBody()?['primaryLink'], 'unwantedword4'))

One point to note is that the RSS connector is a bit sensitive for example it doesnt like when there is a comma in the title. However this can be solved by changing the title to plain test or by adding a compose actions e.g. replace(triggerBody()?['title'],',',' ') and then instead of using the title as the subject use the output of the compose. 

Whilst it would be nice to be able to load a URL and capture the resulting redirected URL and title, unfortunately it isnt possible. This is possible in Apple ios workflow but more on that later. 

Regex and JavaScript are not supported so to extract a particular part is a problem. For example, to clean up google alert feeds (remove https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url= and the trailing elements). Something simple like: 

return {url: decodeURIComponent(input.link.match(/url=[^&]*/)[0].substring(4))};

Which would work in Zapier doesnt work in flow. 

We can get around this using Compose and pass the output: 

 

split(triggerBody()?['primaryLink'],'&url=')
split(last(outputs('Compose_2')),'&ct')
first(outputs('Compose_3'))

Here is what an RSS flow would look like :

RSS to Microsoft ToDo (Flow 1):

 

Microsoft Flow - RSS to ToDo

Microsoft ToDo & Microsoft Flow - Automatic posts to Twitter, Linkedin, Google+

Whilst Flow can post directly to social media accounts in reality its not very useful and its better to be able to see and edit the posts.

Sure you can make a complex flow to filter the feeds and post accordingly but there is another way with Microsoft To Do - its another little now app that deserves a bit more attention than it gets.

The example above sends the new RSS items to Microsoft ToDo so the result is that each new rss item will create a new task. The task name will be the title and the content the url. 

The advantage here is that you get a new task that appears in your todo app that you can read, edit, delete etc before posting. All you need to do is move the task's to the folder that is connected to the relevant flow that will make the social posts. This for example means that you can different flows for posting to business accounts and personal accounts.

On a side note if you wanted to have multiple users reviewing and posting Microsoft Tasks would let you do this.

 

Social posts with Microsoft Flow and Microsoft ToDo

 

Flow can post directly to linkedin personal and company updates, twitter etc. For Google+ you can send the post to Buffer to post either on your Buffer schedule or as in the case here by telling it to post now.

You can also use "approvals" which as the names suggests will send an approval alert to your Flow app and email (unfortunately both) - when you click approve the flow continues and the posts get made. If you reject the post doesnt get made. "send email with options" is also useful as that way you can have more control such as routing to your business social accounts or your personal. 

The example below (Flow 2) is more complex than most people will need. The task that was received from the RSS feed is used to create a new webpage redirect using http GET with an external app and the URL is changed to the new URL.

https://mynewurl.com/ORIGINALURL&redirect_url=https://myreferalurl.com

and approval is sent so that a user can check that the new link works.

Microsoft ToDo - Complex Automatic posts to Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ (Flow 2):

 

Change URL, Send approval, Post to Social

 

If it is approved the flow will post to all the social media accounts.

If it is rejected it will also post but with the original URL. The user received mobile notification for approval in flow app, has checked the new URL and it doesnt work so rejects. But as we still want to post with the original URL instead of the new one the flow creates a new task in a different folder which has another flow (Flow 3).

If it is neither approved nor rejected the flow will time out after 2 hours and no posts will be made (PT120M). 

If you dont need to change the url, have approvals etc then you can omit the previous flow (flow 2) and just use (Flow 3).  

 

microsoft flow approvals timeout 

 

Microsoft ToDo - Simple Automatic posts to Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ (Flow 3):

 

When a new task has been added by Flow 1 or manually in ToDo the HTML is changed to Text and posted to Twitter, Linkedin and Google+. The latter using the buffer connector (which is set to post not buffer) as Flow cant post directly to google+

The task is then deleted to clean up the ToDo list.

Post to Social

Microsoft ToDo - Manual posts to Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ 

 

Lets say you are out and about on your iphone and want to make some posts.
You can add a new Task / post in the Microsoft ToDo app and put it in the appropriate folder so that the appropriate flow runs and posts to social.

Apple ios 12 WorkFlow / ShortCuts to Microsoft Flow & ToDo

 

You can take things a step further and Automate Social posts on Iphone with Microsoft Flow & Workflow.is. 

Apple Workflow - Post articles from RSS Feeds :

 

The following workflow is used to check multiple rss feeds and view a list of the articles. You can select the articles of interest and post them to Microsoft ToDo. Microsoft flow will then post them to the appropriate social media accounts as outlined above.

 

 

Apple Workflow - Post a link :

 

The following workflow is used to capture the link and title of a webpage and post them to Microsoft ToDo. Microsoft flow will then post them to the appropriate social media accounts as outlined above.

 

 

For more examples see - Useful Apple Workflows & ShortCuts