Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash
At iThink 365, we are Microsoft 365 specialists, it is essential that we keep up to date with all the announcements from Microsoft and the community in and around the Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure platform.
The Marketing team used to spend hours a week collating the information from the various blog posts and identifying those that we should interact with, whether that is to respond to, reshare, or provide our point of view on.
Microsoft uses the Microsoft Tech Community to publish an extensive set of blogs. There are approximately a hundred blogs that are updated every week, keeping on top of them is time-consuming and labour-intensive.
A solution was needed, how could we bring all the content from the blogs automatically and enable someone to review the content to identify themes in contact that the Marketing team would want to work with.
After some thought, Microsoft Lists with some automation from the Power Platform seemed like the match made in heaven.
In this article we will discuss how we used Microsoft Lists to help resolve the challenges mentioned above additionally, the solution has been in place for several months and there are some other advantages to having the solution in Microsoft Lists which will be discussed shortly.
Microsoft Lists to the rescue
So how did Microsoft Lists become the solution to our challenge? Well, Microsoft Lists provides us a way of storing structured information from the blog posts into unique fields for each post.
If you look at a blog post it has information such as:
- Blog post title
- Publish date
- Host blog name
- Post URL
We wanted to be able to capture that information and store each piece of information in a column with a similar name. So, we built a Microsoft List which had the following columns:
In the screenshot above you can see an example of one of the list items being open. Because Microsoft Lists is being used, there is the ability to comment and discuss each of these posts. This is great as it allows us to quickly start a conversation with the Marketing team and discuss or highlight a specific post that we should be working with.
Having Microsoft Lists to hold this information is great but how do we get the information into the Microsoft list in the first place?
Collating information into Microsoft Lists
The approach to getting information into the Microsoft Lists is by using Power Automate and a fantastic technology that has been around for a while called RSS (Real syndication service) Feeds.
Using Power Automate, a list of RSS feeds is provided to Power Automate to be checked each day. Power Automate loops through each of the RSS feeds and for each feed pulls down the last 20 posts. Each post is checked to see if has already been added to the Microsoft List. If it has not, then a new entry is generated, and the information is added to the appropriate columns.
The Power Automate did take some time to write but it runs in a minute or so and the result is an updated list with new entries since the last time it ran.
That is all there is to it!
Now that we have the Microsoft List for all the social posts, it has several benefits, some which were planned for and others which were a byproduct of pulling the information into Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Lists.
Firstly, the main benefit is we have a central location which has all the latest posts pulled into one place and makes the consumption and reading of these blog posts easy. As there is also a link to the original post, we can use that to delve into the post for more information if we want.
Secondly, using the comments features the Marketing team can discuss ideas and highlight those posts which are most interesting to us.
Thirdly, now that this information is in Microsoft Lists, it gets picked up by Microsoft 365 search and often the teams find themselves searching for a feature or technology and one of these posts is returned. These posts often link to useful resources which the team can use to find out more!
Accessible anytime and anywhere
As I write this post from the airport in Frankfurt after the MVP Summit, I can access the Microsoft list through my Android mobile app and the Microsoft Lists Progress Web Application (PWA) application. Which makes it even easier to consume, update and discuss these social media posts.
Using Microsoft Lists has really helped our Marketing teams keep a grip on the latest and greatest from Microsoft. They have helped us put in place a central storage location and a great place to hold conversations and comments in the context of those social media posts.
All of this helps us keep our customers up to date with the information that we think they should need. It also helps us to keep ahead of the curve by looking to the future and being able to react to the latest and greatest news from Microsoft.