Do you know know what’s the worst part of creating blog posts?
It’s the promotion.
It’s the part that comes after hitting that publish button. Everything is great while you are in the sandbox, writing the article and being alone with your thoughts…the reality hits hard after you let it free.
Well to maximize your chances for success, you have to figure out a way to promote this blog post, and the best way to promote it is on social media. This is a proven way that works, and it’s sure to bring that initial hit of readers to your blog…but how do you post a text blog post on social media that is mostly visual?
Creating an engaging video with the blog headline, a short excerpt, blog link, and nice design is a great way to hook the readers into reading the article and this is a tactic that’s being used by the biggest brands.
And this is why the promotion is the worst part.
After all of that work you put in, you close all of the tabs and save the blog just to realize that you also need to create the promo material.
That’s why we created this workflow – if you implement this workflow, you won’t have ANY added work after writing the blog post and you will be able to create unique videos for any number of blog posts that you or your company publishes in a day.
This workflow will automatically create videos that you can post on social media to promote your new blog post and send them to Slack, so any of your coworkers can use them and distribute them.
These videos contain the headline, a short excerpt, the blog post link, and a few images that change with every video.
Everything works fully automated, and the videos are created in two formats – Instagram Story, and Square.
This workflow will allow you to create 100s of videos on a daily basis if you wish, and this article will show you how to do it, step-by-step so you can create this workflow today!
Here’s a video showing how automated blog post videos work:
Automated blog post videos – Workflow Overview
- After Effects – For video template creation
- Airtable – For storage of blog post info
- Plainly – For automated video creation
- Integromat – For integration
- Unsplash – For images that will be in the video
Compared to some workflows that we created (and that are in the pipeline) automating blog post videos is pretty simple.
As a starting point you will need an After Effects project that will serve as a video template – you can create one yourself, hire someone to do it, or we can do it for you.
With Plainly done, everything that is left is to create the integration in your tool of choice (mine is Integromat, but you can use Zapier) and you are ready to go.
Automated blog post videos – Step-by-Step
This section will have a detailed explanation of every step of this workflow. If you wish to go into even more details, I suggest you take a look at the video at the end of the section in which I talk you through the workflow, and show you what to write in every field.
If you aren’t familiar with the integration tools, but you still want to use this workflow – our team will be happy to create it for you! Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell us what workflow would you like and we’ll help you out.
The video template you create should be engaging. You will achieve this by having a punchy start of the video, with elements that have contrast and animation that’s fast. This should make the viewer stop and see the video.
For purposes of this blog, this is the video template I created:
Certain video formats fit certain social media. To take up as much screen space, you should obey those. If you will be posting on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook feed you should have a square video (1080px x 1080px for example). If you will post on Instagram story it should be a vertical video (1080px x 1920px for example).
In my example, I created both. And this is how the video looks in the vertical format:
The elements inside of the video are completely up to you. You can include the header image from your blog post, or not put an excerpt as I did…it’s completely up to you.
One main thing that I wanted is – I wanted every video to look different so I put an abstract image as a background for the video knowing that I will be able to dynamically change this with the Unsplash API.
So, with this workflow, you could be creating unique videos automatically.
Inside of Plainly, I uploaded my Ae template under one project and created two templates. One for square and one for the story.
Since both of these templates have the same elements, I just did the same thing for both of those. And this is how the parametrization looks:
Before you jump into Integromat or Zapier there are a few quick things to sort out. You will need to create an Airtable in which you will copy the blog post data that will go to render. Airtable will also serve as a trigger, so whenever you copy the new blog post inside of it you will trigger a render for both video formats.
Pretty simple stuff, you will just need to create a field for every parameter you want to be dynamic. These should link to the elements you set up in After Effects so pay attention to that.
This is how the table will look:
For Airtable to be a trigger, you will have to create an integration inside of Airtable. This integration takes a few minutes to create, and it will send the record ID to a specific Slack channel that you choose whenever you set a state for a record to be “Ready to render”.
You should create a dedicated Slack channel for this integration, and only the Airtable messages should go in there. A more detailed explanation of how to create this is in the video below.
Here’s how the integration looks:
This step is optional. You don’t have to do it if you have a fixed template that you will use. In my case, I wanted every video to be unique so I had to find a way to source unique images for every video.
This can be done with Unsplash API, which allows you to search their database for a certain keyword and download the images based on that. The best thing is that it’s 100% free! It’s a cool tool that can be used in many workflows, so I recommend you set this API up in any case.
To set this API up, you will need to create an Unsplash Dev account and create an app inside of the Dev account that will give you an API key that you can use. I won’t go into a detailed explanation of this but you can watch this video (you can watch up to 04:00, you don’t need anything more if you will use tools like Integromat and Zapier).
Inside Integromat, I created two workflows. The first one receives the blog post data and creates the video.
And the second one receives the video and distributes it further.
Workflow 1 – Video Creation
- Slack / New Event – The workflow starts with this module. It’s a trigger that’s set up to fire off whenever there is a new message in a specific Slack channel.
The channel that it’s looking at is the channel that Airtable is sending the messages. This is why it’s important to have a dedicated channel just for this. Integromat will look at new messages, and if it finds anything but the Airtable record ID, it will fail. In my case it’s called “automated blog post videos airtable”.
- Airtable / Get a record – When a new message is received, the first module will pick the text of that message up and it will search your Airtable for that record. This module gets the blog name, the blog link, and any other info you put into the Airtable sheet.
- Unsplash / Search Photos – If you are not using the Unsplash API, you can just skip to step 6. On the other hand, if you are this module will call the Unsplash API and tell it to look for 3 photos with the query “abstract”. I chose 3 photos because the video has 3 scenes, so i wanted every scene to have a unique background.
- Array Aggregator – Because module 3 will return 3 bundles of data because we are looking for 3 pictures. we need this module to separate the data.
The array aggregator is putting the data from module 3 in one array and we can take the photos one by one with the following 3 modules.
- Unsplash / Get a Photo – These 3 modules go through the array that module 4 made, and they get the links to the photos so we can put them into the video.
- HTTP Request / Make a request – These are HTTP requests that will call the Plainly API and tell Plainly to render the videos using the data from Airtable that module 2 picked up, and using the photos that Unsplash / Get a photo modules took.
In this example, I have two of these, one for each video format and the contents of the HTTP request you get from Plainly. The only thing you need to do is to link up the sources of data inside of your integration tool.
If you wish to see every field and what I wrote inside of it, check out the video explanation below.
- Airtable / Update a record – This module simply goes back to the Airtable sheet, and sets the state of the record for which it just created a video as “Rendered”.
Workflow 2 – Video Receiver
- Webhook – This module is a simple webhook that will be receiving the videos. You will have to have separate webhooks if you wish to create videos in different formats.
- JSON / Parse JSON – This module formats the data we got on the webhook. It specifically looks at the passthrough data and formats it against a pre-set data structure.
This data structure tells this module what kind of data to expect, so it can extract that data from the passthrough. Specifically in this workflow, I extract the blog post title, so I’m able to add it in the later modules
- HTTP / Get a file – This module simply downloads the video from the link that Plainly sent to the webhook. You can also do this workflow without this module, but then in some cases, you won’t be able to unfurl the Slack message you send in the end. It will end up as a link.
- Slack / Create a message – This module sends a text message to a specific Slack channel telling that there is a new video.
- Slack / Upload a file – This module uploads the finished video, right after the message above.
What’s cool about this workflow is that you can automatically upload these videos to social media. So basically everything can be automated! In that case, you would add another field in Airtable that would be the copy for social media and you would add the modules for social media in scenario 2. It would look like this:
I won’t go further into this workflow because you will be sending the videos to Slack, but I just wanted to let you know that there is also that option.
In this video I walk you through the workflow in even more detail, more importantly, I show all of the fields and what did I put inside of them so you can copy everything and get started quickly.