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Business

How to Master Zapier Integration to Automate Your App Workflows

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In the last tutorial I looked at how to get started automating your business with Zapier. I built a simple Zap that posted any tweets sent to your Twitter account to a dedicated Slack Channel. 

Today, I’m going to take things further and explore some of the more advanced features of Zapier integration. If you haven’t already, check out the last post to get up to speed. Otherwise, what I’m covering might be a little advanced. 

To use the Multi-Step Zap feature you need a premium Zapier account. There’s a 30-day free trial but after that you’ll have to pay. Plans start from $20 a month.

The Zap we will build today follows an RSS feed. When there’s a new post, it filters it by the author’s name and then, if it matches the filter, posts it to Twitter and Facebook. It also posts a message to Slack saying that it has run.

Multi-Step Zaps are one of the integration features that make Zapier so powerful. A regular Zap just links two apps, but with a multi-step Zap, you can chain together as many as you need. Content can even be shared between the different steps. It means you can automate long sequences of actions.

These sort of things are easier to show than describe so, let’s start building more advanced automated workflows. 

Building a Multi-Step Zap

Watch this quick screencast to lean how to take Zapier integration further by making a multi-step Zap. Or, read on below for written instructions.

To start, open your Zapier Dashboard and click Make a Zap! Make sure you’ve signed up for a premium plan or have activated your free trial. Now let's set up advanced Zapier integration with a multi-step Zap. 

1. Set Up the RSS Trigger

First, you need to set up the RSS trigger. Select RSS by Zapier from the trigger search and click Save + Continue.

I’m using the Tuts+ RSS feed for this tutorial but you can use any feed you like. You don’t need any login details to subscribe to our great tutorials so ignore that section and leave What Triggers a New Feed Item to the default and click Continue.

Zapier integration setting up the rss feed
Setting up the RSS feed.

2. Test the Zapier Set Up for Your Custom Feed

Next, it’s time to test the feed. Click Fetch & Continue and Zapier will pull in the latest item. If you’ve entered everything correctly the test should pass so click Continue. If the test fails, go back and check the RSS feed address.

I don’t want to post every article Tuts+ publishes to my social media accounts; I just want to share the ones I wrote. So you can just subscribe to all my tutorials as well, let’s add a filter.

Search the action apps for Filter by Zapier and click Save and Continue. The Only continue if… filter blocks the rest of the Zap from running if the test fails. This filter is going to check the author value of the feed item from the first step. If it’s “Harry Guinness”, all is good and it’ll continue. If it isn’t, the Zap will stop here.

filtering rss feed
Filtering the RSS feed for my name.

From the dropdowns, select Raw Author Name (Text) Contains and then type Harry Guinness. Click Continue.

In my case, the author of the article Zapier pulled in was Rob Mayzes so it wouldn’t have continued. That doesn’t matter for now; you can keep building the rest of the Zap with the sample data confident that it will only run when the author is me. Click Add a step to keep going.

test failure
Even if your test fails, continue with building the Zap.

3. Add the Zapier Twitter Action

The first action we want to run is to post the link to Twitter. If you followed the previous tutorial, it should already be in Your Apps so select it and choose Create Tweet and then Save + Continue. If you connected your account last time you can just click Save + Continue again, otherwise connect your Twitter account before going on.

Zapier tweet template
The tweet template I'm using.

In the Message box, enter the template for the Tweet. Use the dropdown to add autofills from the RSS feed trigger. I set mine up to say: New Tutorial by [Raw Author Name]: [Article Title]. Link. Remember, you only have 140 characters to work with so don’t put too much content in before the link. Otherwise the most important part of the post could get buried. 

Zapier tweet integration
The tweet integration works!

Click Continue, test the Twitter integration and then click Add a step.

4. Repeat for Facebook Integration

Next, you need to repeat the process for the Facebook integration. Find it in the Actions list, connect your account, select Post to Timeline and create a message template. When you test the step, the feed item should get posted to your Facebook page. 

setting up Facebook post
Setting up the Facebook post.

The final step in this Zap is to post a notification to Slack that it’s run. In the last tutorial I covered posting a message to a Slack channel. If you get stuck, go back and read over that.

Once that’s done, name your Zap and turn it on. Every time there’s a new article out by me, it will run and post it to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

What You Can Make With Multi-Step Zaps

While this is a relatively simple multi-step Zap, it shows some of the things you can accomplish with Zapier. A single trigger can be manipulated and then used by three separate apps. It’s a great way to add consistency to your workflows; and of course, to speed things up and make everything hands off. With multi-step Zaps you can basically build your own custom apps for better automated workflows.

The Control Centre Theory

It’s probably become clear over the last two examples that I’m a big fan of Slack. That’s because, when it comes to automation, I like to have a single control centre where everything runs from. Rather than having dozens of different apps, it’s better to have one that connects to them all. That’s where Slack comes in.

With Zapier you can connect Slack to any services you like. Not only can they all feed information into Slack but Slack can send it back. If you’re managing a small team you’ll often spend a huge part of your day communicating with them so it’s great to be able to do everything from one place.

I’ve already demonstrated how to use Zapier to post tweets to Slack so lets flip things around with this Zapier integration. Let’s have any new messages someone posts in the #tweets channel from the last tutorial get posted to my Twitter account. 

Before starting, post a test Tweet in the slack channel you’re using. Zapier won’t pull in or register any tweets by bots.

1. Create the Slack Trigger

Create a new Zap and select Slack as the Trigger. You want to use New Message Posted to Channel. From the Channel dropdown, select tweets or whatever your social media channel is. Click Continue and wait while Zapier tests the integration.

setting up Slack Zapier Integration
Setting up the Slack trigger.

2. Add Twitter as the Action

For the Action app, select Twitter. Follow the process for creating a new Tweet and set the message to the text from the Slack trigger. Now whenever you post a message to that Slack channel it gets shared to your Twitter account.

the twitter action
The Twitter action.

How to Build on This Approach

There are plenty of ways to improve this simple Zap integration set up by adding multiple steps. 

You could add a filter so that only messages from a certain user or that contained a specific trigger word ran the Zap. You could also just add an extra action so the message is posted to Facebook, or set up a second Zap that posts a longer message to Facebook.

By combining these action ideas with the one from the last tutorial, you can turn a single Slack channel into a powerful social media control centre that any of your staff can use—and most importantly, that you can see them use. This way, you don’t have to give out the login details to multiple people, and it’s immediately clear who has posted what messages.

Your social media accounts are far from the only things you can control from Slack. Zapier has hundreds of other apps you can also automate. 

You can set up a trigger to create new Google Documents, new Trello cards, and anything else you can think of with the apps available. There are literally infinite possible combinations of Zaps. All you have to do is build the ones that work for your business.

Wrapping Up

As more business tasks go online, it’s become more and more crucial to be able to manage them simply. If you have five or six different apps in your workflows—as many businesses do—it can be easy for steps to be skipped and important information to be missed. By using Zapier to build systematic automated workflows, you ensure that data flows freely and reliably. You’re not counting on an intern to update a critical Trello board!

If you’ve any questions about using Zapier to automate your business, or have some specific Zaps you’d like to see built, feel free to reach out in the comments below.

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