Help Me Automate The Most Boring Part of My Job


#1

Hey everyone!

I have a big ask. I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to this sort of stuff, and have something I want to automate that I think will be pretty difficult to do. I’ll try to explain the problem first, and then the solution that I’m looking for. So here we are –

Problem: I am a freelance social media producer for a gaming media outlet called IGN. I work in the mornings, making social content for their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. This will be anything from referral links to articles, to new movie trailers, to memes of my own creation. IGN has about 1.5 million followers on each platform, so the likes, retweets, and whatnot can get pretty high. But some things don’t track well for our audience, and we’re always trying to figure out what plays and what doesn’t.

To that end, they asked me to start keeping track of what my posts do numbers-wise. Right now I do this manually in a Google Sheets doc that I share with two of the full-time social producers. Doing it manually means each day going to yesterday’s posts, finding the first one I posted that day, and going backward on all three platforms, marking down how well they did.

Solution?: I’m hoping someone has an idea for this. The other wrinkle is that IGN uses Social Flow for any analytics, and it’s pretty minimal. I can’t get as granular as I need. Also, I would really love to keep using a Google Sheet for this process, as it makes things very shareable.

Let me know if you have any ideas, and definitely also let me know if you think this is an impossible, crazy task that I’m asking for. Cuz I think that’s very possible.

Anyway, thanks in advance.

Tyler


#2

Since you are a self-professed “newbie”, I’m going to assume that you aren’t really a skilled web programmer and up for integrating with the social platform APIs that would be required to produce your own bespoke all-singing, all-dancing solution. I’d also imagine that you wouldn’t be asking here. So that realistically leaves two options. Use a solution that someone else has produced, or streamline your existing manually intensive process.

The former is really more than automation and very much an architected solution. In the same way you would build a word processor application, rather than put together a few automations to try and give you the functionality … though if you start with a basic automatable word processor, admittedly you might bridge a gap on that. Before I get side-tracked too much on that particular tangent, you might want to have a scan through this Google Sheet of systems compiled by Buffer that compares several off-the-shelf options that could potentially serve your needs. There’s obviously an investment, but if a client is asking for more feedback, then it wouldn’t necessarily be unreasonable to factor in additional cost for delivering that as either you need to invest in a tool to reduce your time, or spend more time collating the information. That is over and above what you had previously been contracted to do.

In regards to the latter, it would be useful to know what sort of platforms you have access to use; but we can talk about things in broad terms to identify opportunities to have your process streamlined.

Zapier and IFTTT both have integrations for the social platforms you are referencing. There’s a potential there for you to set-up applets or zaps to trigger based on likes, replies, reshares, hash tag searches, etc. and feed that into any number of repositories - including Google sheets.

Since you are a social media producer, I would assume that you are using some tool for managing your postings. Such tools (e.g. Hootsuite, Agora Pulse, CoSchedule, Buffer, Sprinklr) often provide you with functionality such as scheduling, notifications and analytics. Depending upon what tool you use for this, you may have options where you can automate getting data out (or feeding in), such that you can then ultimately feed this in to your master Google Sheet - or some other location.

There are services available for each platform you mentioned that would allow you to convert sequential postings into RSS feeds. Once you have access to an RSS feed, there’s all sorts of web and local automation you can do to process the underlying XML. At the very least it could help you narrow down your postings for the day automatically … though depending upon your publishing tool maybe there’s an option to be feeding data into the tool so you are actually starting with your master list and are maybe only picking up further interactions with followers?

Depending upon what stats you want, on what social platform, and what your capabilities are with your local access platform are (iOS/Android/MacOS/Windows/Linux), you may be able to script your system to interact with your web browser and scrape data from the page to then feed into your master Google sheet. Tools like Shortcuts, Keyboard Maestro, Fake (browser), AutoHotKey, etc. can help facilitate at least some of this.

If the off-the-shelf platform isn’t a viable option, hopefully looking at automating distinct tasks and streamlining the overall process by tackling small steps in the whole process will be something you can adopt.

Hopefully that gives you a few ideas to consider about what direction you might like to go in, and perhaps some of the options you might consider around automation.


#3

Oh my gosh! Thank you so much! This is a great place for me to start. I’m definitely going to look into some of the web based options for sure. Thank you again!!