news to video thumbnail

Automatically create social media videos from news articles – RSS Feed & Video Creation API Integration

Table of Contents

News websites like Fox News, NY Times, CBS and others put out hundreds of articles per day. Even the smaller news agencies publish tens of articles per day.

Their social media accounts are even crazier.

If you check out their Twitter you will see that they have new posts every few minutes. Their Instagram feed gets updated every few hours while they post new IG stories multiple times in an hour.

They are literally content-making machines. That’s where a problem arises.

Someone has to make all of this content.

tired employee
Great! We published another article.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Creating the content for social media takes a lot of time. Even though you have all of the assets ready – since this content is just repackaged news articles – it still takes a lot of time to create all of that content given the volume that these websites put out.

The social media teams of news outlets are working around the clock. Even though they got the workflow as streamlined as possible – it’s still a lot of manual work.

Well, not anymore. If you are creating content (social media videos to be more exact) for a news agency, you can relax now – we got you covered.

The workflow that we are going to explain in this article will show you how to automatically create social media videos from news articles.

Leave the manual work for robots. Re-assign the time you get back by using this workflow to something more useful.

Why would i need these videos?

There are a couple of use cases for a workflow like this.

Social media promotion – That’s the first one, and the most obvious one. You can use these videos to automate a part of your social media content and bring more readers to your website.

Another place for ads – This is a super interesting use case that can bring you extra revenue. By using this workflow you could be automatically creating videos that would be placed on the article page.

Guess what? You could be placing ads on that video and get extra revenue. A huge benefit is that there is no extra work for this revenue.

Once you set up this workflow the videos are created automatically for each new article and if you wish you could also automate the video upload.

This article, however, focuses on the social media side. If you are interested in the other use case – let us know and we’ll create a tutorial for that.

How does this work?

If you take a look at the social media videos that the news outlets put out they look pretty much the same. The design always stays the same while only the content itself changes. This gives you an opportunity to create a video template and use a video generation API like Plainly to generate videos automatically.

fox and cbs instagram
Everything looks the same

There are two ways that this workflow can work:

  1. User Triggered

  2. Fully Automated



User triggered means that the user would trigger the automated video creation. This way you would send Plainly the parameters that will be in the video. Basically, this is a semi-automatic way of doing this workflow as you are still choosing what elements (text, pictures, videos…etc) will be in the video.

It still involves a lot less work than a traditional way of creating videos as you can do this in one minute. Type in the values, click the button, and…puff – done.

news articles to videos - user triggered workflow


But why would anybody choose this over the fully automated way?

Some people want control over the video creation process, and they may want to add additional elements inside the video. Because of the way that automated workflow works, it can only pick up the elements that are in the article. This means that if you want to add additional assets, you may opt-out for the user-triggered workflow.

A fully automated workflow works exactly how you imagine. Whenever there is an article published – a video (or a set of videos) gets automatically created.

There is 0 work that needs to be done by the user – and that’s the beauty of this workflow. No matter how many articles get published the video will always be created.

Let’s explain step by step how both workflows work. Check out the video below for a full-in-depth explanation.

fully automated rss feed to video integration

User trigered workflow – Step by step explanation

1. Video Generation API – The key ingredient

In both user-generated and fully automated types of this workflow, there is one key ingredient. 

The video generation API that will be creating those videos. This API is like a team of robots that never sleep. These robots will be creating a video whenever you ping them and a tool like this is the centerpiece of a workflow like this.

Here’s how Plainly works:

  1. You upload the template you will be using,  and choose the elements that will be changed in every video (the dynamic elements). These could be text, images, videos, audio and even colors.

  2. Generate videos with a simple API call that contain the template ID and parameters for the video.

  3. You get a link with the video back in a few minutes (either through the web-app or to a webhook)

A workflow like this can be set up using Plainly in just an hour.

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But before you jump into Plainly, you need to get your video template ready.

2. The video template – how will the video look

For a video generation API like Plainly to work, you need a video template that will be rendered as a base for every video. In the case of Plainly, these templates are created in After Effects.

There are a few things that are great about After Effects:

  1. It’s super powerful. You can create a Star Wars movie inside of it if you wish.

  2. It’s very versatile. You can also create a cartoon in it. That’s how versatile it is.

  3. There are a ton of template marketplaces and you can use any of them. One of the biggest ones is Video Hive by Envato, but there are tons of others. Just search for “After Effects templates”. 


after effects templates on envato
A bunch of templates to choose from

If you don’t wish to bother with the template, you can always hire someone to create it for you.

This can be a freelancer or the Plainly team. We can create a template for you in a few days – so you can get started asap.

The design of the video is completely up to you. Whatever works for your brand. Judging by the big news websites – these are usually very simple in design and they focus on the text (the headline).

There are a few things that you should pay attention to though. These are the duration and dimensions.

The duration of the video shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds. Remember, the goal of this video is not for the user to fully read the article. The goal is to lead them to your website.

The dimensions should follow the guidelines of the social media that you are posting on. You can find them here. Follow these and you are good.

3. Video Creation Form – Triggering the automation

This is where the two types of the workflow differ from each other. If the user is triggering the renders – there must be a way for the user to trigger those, right?

That’s why there is a video creation form.

It’s nothing fancy…just a simple form that the user fills. The form should contain fields for all of the dynamic elements that you set up in Plainly. That’s why you should create the video template first, set up Plainly second and then work on the video creation form.

news article to video example form

I suggest you use Airtable for the form. It’s like Google Forms on steroids. It’s super powerful and it has a lot of integration possibilities

It’s my favorite tool for creating no-code workflows.

We actually created an in-depth guide for creating video creation forms like this one. Check it out.

This tutorial explains how to create an Airtable form that allows you to send an API call to Plainly and create videos in a few clicks.

4. Recieving the videos

You got the video creation part done. What now?

There are a couple of ways you can download the video.

1. Manually download videos

The first way is directly through the Plainly Web App. Just go to the Renders tab and they’ll be there. This is a slower way of doing things though, as you have to manually download each video.

You can also set up an integration that will automatically download the videos and store the links in one place. This place can be the Airtable sheet that you used for video creation or they can be sent to a Slack channel if that’s your choice.

video generation api plainly web app ui


2. Automate the video upload


In case you don’t like manually downloading videos, you can set up another automation.

This automation will take videos from Plainly and publish them to social media websites of your choice. This makes your life even easier – you don’t have to manually publish all of those videos.

plainly to social media websites

Creating this automation is pretty simple.

The first step is to create a webhook that will be receiving videos from Plainly. If you have multiple video dimensions, you have to have multiple webhooks. 

The second step is to set up Zapier/Integromat to take the videos from those webhooks and publish them the social media.

You can also include the headline of the article as copy on social media. Just link that data from Airtable.

If you wish to put custom copy, that’s also possible but it takes a bit more work. That’s not the focus of this article so i’ll skip it but if you really wish to do this let us know at contact@plainlyvideos.com and we’ll show you how!

If you get confused by any of this, don’t worry!

There is a video tutorial at the end of this article where i create this workflow live on video. It shows all of the steps, all of the fields and all of the text you need to type in.

Fully automated workflow – step by step explanation

The automated workflow is similar to the user-triggered one. The only difference is that, well, the user doesn’t have to create the videos.

The automated workflow utilizes RSS feeds. Whenever there is a new entry in the RSS feed, the integration gets triggered and the video gets created. This is the only difference between these two workflows. 

nyt rss feed

You still need a video template, you still need a video generation API like Plainly and you still need to choose between automated video publishing or manual download.

Since 75% of the workflow is the same, i’m going to cover only the different part in this article and you can copy the rest of it from above.

1. RSS feed & Video creation API integration using Zapier/Integromat

RSS feeds are great because they are constantly updated and they have a set structure which is crucial when creating integrations.

The majority of news websites have an RSS feed, and the only thing you will need to create is an integration that will ping Plainly API whenever there is a new article in the RSS feed.

This is pretty easy because tools like Integromat and Zapier already have RSS modules. These modules allow you to watch for new feed updates and send requests to other apps as they come.

Even if you are not a technical person (like me) you can create this in just a few minutes. 

The first thing you will need is the RSS feed link. Once you have this, you will need to plug that link into the RSS module in Zapier/Integromat and make the integration trigger to be a new RSS feed entry.

Once there is a new article, the integration tool will pick up the data and send that through to Plainly for video rendering. This data can be the headline, the photo, the summary or whatever you wish to use in the video.

integromat integration
Fully automated workflow created in Integromat. Video tutorial for this below.

Voila! That’s your automated video creation from RSS feeds. 

You can copy and paste the rest of the workflow from above, it’s pretty much the same.

If you wish to create this integration but my explanation wasn’t clear – check the video. There i explain the whole workflow more thoroughly.

Video Tutorial

Closing Words

A workflow like this can save you hours and hours of work. Sure, it may take a couple hours or a few days to set up but the time savings once that’s done are incredible. The hours your team gets back can be spent on something more useful.

One more good thing about this workflow is that you can switch the designs pretty easily, and you can experiment even further once you set it up.

As far as the design goes, that’s as easy as swapping a few strings once you create the new template.

And when I say experiment – I really do think experiment. The world of no-code is ever-evolving and you can implement various new tools to enrich this workflow. There are a bunch of new AI tools that can be implemented that will make these videos even more effective, and at the end of the day bring more readers to your website.

Because, that’s what workflow like these are all about. Time savings, and increasing the number of your viewers.

If you wish to see how the key ingredient of this workflow works – book a 15 min demo below. Thanks for reading!

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person using a video generator