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Automating the social media promotion for RoadHuntr

Marketing Aug 20, 2017

If you don't know about it already, I run roadhuntr.com which is a site for driving enthusiasts to discover new roads around the world.

Instagram

RoadHuntr launched in December 2016. We'd already been running @roadhuntr on Instagram to gain a small following (we launched with about 5k followers if my memory serves me correctly). This was a key part of our launch strategy and was very successful. Unlike other products I've built, RoadHuntr wasn't the sort of thing that would get attention on Product Hunt or in my particular Twitter circles so it was important to setup a separate brand from myself to promote it.

Instagram is still a key part of getting people onto RoadHuntr. We post every day and get a steady trickle of users through onto the site from it. I have a rather complex workflow for publishing to Instagram – and yes it's completely automatic. I'm not going to go into detail on that here... that's something for another post.

All our Instagram posts are automatically shared to Twitter and Facebook using IFTTT.

Buffer

You've probably heard of Buffer. If you've ever looked into social media marketing you'll likely know about it so I won't go into huge detail. Buffer is connected to RoadHuntr's Facebook and Twitter profiles and is the center for posting to them. I never post directly on Facebook and Twitter because Buffer allows me to cross-post to both with ease and also gives my analytics on how successful the posts were.

The main use for Buffer however is below.

RoadHuntr's custom sharer

Once the site was launched and people were adding roads daily, I started sharing some of those roads on RoadHuntr's social channels. This got boring real quick. I was basically posting something like this every day...

I built a small tool behind RoadHuntr which automatically searches the database for a new road with a high score. It then randomly generates a message to accompany the link. I basically wrote out a few template captions and the script fetches a random one. Here's a few examples...

  1. Check out {{title}}! Looks like a good candidate for a weekend cruise. #roadhuntr #getoutanddrive
  2. Take a look at {{title}} in {{location}}
  3. {{country}} sure has some incredible roads! {{title}} is no exception

There are twenty random captions in all so it shouldn't get too repetitive for viewers. I occasionally go in and add a few or change some up just a touch.

Once I'd gotten this far in building the script, I hit a roadblock. I didn't know how to get this to actually send to Facebook and Twitter. I've never worked with their APIs directly and have no intention of doing so, but then it hit me... Buffer!

Buffer has a little-known email tool that lets you send posts by emailing your account's unique @buffer.com email address. This took a bit of fiddling to get right, but I finally managed to get the script to deliver the posts to Buffer which would then send the post out to Facebook and Twitter.

Here's how the script works in list form:

  1. Search the database for a road added recently and with a high score
  2. Fetch a random caption from the list and replace the variables with info about the road
  3. Email the post to Buffer

Enpose

This is the last step in RoadHuntr's social workflow. Enpose is the site I built which automatically captures images of webpages. Enpose is used to create these images which accompany RoadHuntr's social posts:

You can set something like this up for your own site at enpose.co

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