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Populating Your Feed with RSS Integration

When starting a new site one of the first questions many community owners have is how to populate the news feed so that potential new users see an active and thriving community. This can be difficult when a site is just being started as the user base will be small. In order to help community owners with this issue, we have provided RSS integration which would allow you to populate the news feed automatically! The following article will explain what RSS is and how we can use it with SocialEngine.

So what is RSS?

The letters RSS stand for Rich Site Summary and is used by sites with a feed format to automatically publish frequently updated information. In simpler terms, it is a way to automate publication based on a certain search term or URL.

Cool, so how would I use RSS on my site?

When sites are new the news feed is empty. An empty news feed, understandably, does not suggest the community is thriving and growing and if you plan to acquire new users, you need your site to appear active. You could create tons of fake users and spend countless hours posting to create the illusion of activity, or you can set up RSS feeds to automatically pull posts from other websites automatically. This would allow you to focus on more important aspects of growth, or it would allow you to kick back and relax while you watch your site grow. That part is up to you.

So how do I set all this stuff up?

Setting up RSS integration is as easy as finding an RSS feed you like, copying, and pasting. Let’s dive in.

  1. We start, once again, at the ever-familiar Admin Panel. From here look on the left-hand column and find the “Services” category. Now, move down slightly to find the “RSS Feeds” menu option and click.
  2. Once in the RSS Feeds menu, you will see a short description and a place to paste URLs. In the boxes provided, you can paste in up to 5 RSS feed URLS to help populate your site. To find RSS URLs that you can use, keep an eye out for the orange RSS icon (below). Clicking this icon will generally take you to the RSS feed and from there you can paste in the URL.
  3. What better way to attract users than to post pictures of cute animals? I’m going to insert an RSS feed URL for the subreddit- reddit.com/r/aww. By default all subreddits can be converted to a RSS feed simply by adding /.rss to the end of the subreddit’s URL, so all I need to do is enter reddit.com/r/aww/.rss into the Feed URLs box!
  4. Once the URL is inserted the site will begin checking for new posts. This process is not instant but it will occur several times daily. Once you give your RSS integration time to run the feed will eventually look something like this

Lets go deeper!

So now that you have your RSS feeds set up you can take this feature to the next level by using a tools such as Zapier and IFTTT.

Zapier

Zapier lets you easily connect different web apps providing automation for some of your more tedious tasks. Among the many app integrations offered, Zapier offers an RSS option. This means you can turn certain app functions into an RSS feed which can be integrated with SE Cloud, automatically publishing updates.

If that sounds confusing, let’s use an example:

You just started your brand new community centered around travel photography and as an incentive to join, you are offering weekly downloads of photos taken from your world travels. You could set up a Zapier integration that posts to a RSS feed whenever you upload a new photo to Dropbox. This would mean that every week when you upload your new photo of your travels to Dropbox, it will automatically be converted to an RSS feed and published to your site!

IFTTT

Another trigger/action system similar to Zapier would be IFTTT. Ifttt stands for “If this, then that.” and is another powerful system that can take certain triggers and automatically perform certain functions.

Using this tool you could take the RSS feed of your SocialEngine Community and use it to trigger other actions! You can do this by creating a new recipe, using RSS feed as the trigger, entering the RSS url for your site (yoururl.onsocialengine.com/feed.rss) and then using this to trigger one of many actions offered by ifttt.com. One possibility would be using your SocialEngine Community’s RSS feed to automatically post to your facebook!

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