It’s hardly a social strategy, but posting your site’s headlines to your Twitter feed and Facebook page is an important first step for a news site.
I’m pretty sure that most WordPress and Drupal users can do this with a plugin. Things aren’t so simple for users of Expression Engine or some other content management system. You may also want to use a third-party service if you’re reaching the limits of your current system. I’ve wrestled with this problem for year or two. I thought I’d share my experience and save you some time.
My first impulse, and probably yours as well, was to try get my Facebook page to pull in my feed. There’s a way to do it, but I defy you to discover it yourself, even though it’s accessible right there on the page. Once you know the non-obvious directions, it’s easy to do. But this is a very slow way to do an update. Facebook polls RSS feeds at long and seemingly random intervals. It can take hours for a new post to show up on your Facebook page. These days, this isn’t acceptable for J. Random Blogger, let alone a news site. And, of course, that doesn’t get your feed onto Twitter.
You need a third-party service to deliver your headlines as quickly and flexibly as your news cycle demands. Most of these services use the Pubsubhubbub protocol to know the moment you’ve updated your feed. I’m not going to go into a long explanation of how it works. I’m a little fuzzy on that to be honest. But, like the http protocol, you don’t need to know a lot to use it. Superfeedr will manage your push notifications for you. It won’t deliver your feeds to your social pages, but it will make possible for other services to do so more quickly.
Twitterfeed is designed will update social sites from your RSS feed. I found it to be reliable, nicely designed, flexible, and easy to use. It accepts Pubsubhubbub notifications. But its dashboard is a little buggy in my experience, and I’m not using it as much as I have in the past.
Ping.fm aims to be a switching yard for social updates. The good news is that it can you can update it immediately via email, allowing you to be more selective about which stories appear on your social feeds. The bad news is that (1) Ping.fm can’t take RSS feeds directly, making it harder to automate your workflow, and recommends Twitterfeed for RSS notifications. (2) I found the exact format of Ping.fm updates to my Facebook page to be unreliable — they changed over time. This resulted in a Facebook page that was a visual mess and occasionally just stupid-looking when Ping.fm (or Facebook) picked up the wrong image to display with a story. And (3) Ping also seems to have gone into a developmental hiatus since Seesmic bought them last March.
Dlvr.it feels like a more polished solution for posting your feeds. It accepts Pubsubhubbub notifications, is easy to use, has a flexible system for adding feeds and social destinations, provides excellent reports on items delivered and clicked, does a better job of formatting Facebook entries, and allows to to filter your posts based on their content. It can also deliver RSS output, which I used to buffer a friend’s RSS feed which my CMS started polling him too frequently.
All three services (Twitterfeed, Ping.fm, and Dlvr.it) look good and deal creatively with the problem of putting a simple, Web 2.0-style interface on creating complex many-to-many relationships. Ping.fm and Dlvr.it also offer API’s if you have the need and the skills to do something even more custom.
I recommend trying all three (using Superfeedr) However, I’ve found that Dlvr.it is the easiest, fastest, and most powerful way to update my social feeds from my news site.