[Reply] Setting up Automation Rules

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Summary Setting up Automation Rules
Order of Automation Rules Examples of Automation Rules


Automation Rules are a powerful way to automate common tasks like tagging, moving, assigning, or setting the status of incoming conversations. In their simplest form, you'll setup a Filter to match specific incoming conversations, which you can then apply an Action to. Jump here to see some examples.

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Setting up Automation Rules

To get started, click Settings on the left hand side of your dashboard and then select the Rules tab.


Click New Rule.


The first thing to do is select the filter you'd like to use. Filters allow you to target specific conversations, based on criteria such as keywords or language, which you can then apply automated actions to. Here's a run down of the filters you'll see:

  • Contains: Filter conversations by keyword, hashtag or phrase. This will search the body text of a thread item, e.g. a tweet or Facebook comment. This is one of our most popular filters.
  • Contains (Include Links): Similar to the Contains filter, but also searching within links. For example, you could use this filter to search for keywords within links like UTM parameters, or to filter conversations that contain shortened links, e.g. buff.ly or bit.ly.
  • Contains Only Mentions: Filter conversations that only include mentions, but no actual text content. For example, when a Facebook user only tags a friend in a comment on a post.
  • Begins With: Similar to the Contains filter, but only searching the body text that starts with a given keyword or phrase. For example, pre-populated Tweets or other messages.
  • Recipient Is: Filter conversations sent to one of the social accounts you have connected to Buffer Reply.
  • Language Is: Filter conversations based on detected language. Reply currently supports the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and Urdu.
  • Type Is: Filter conversations based on type. This includes Twitter @mentions, direct messages and searches, Facebook comments and private messages, and Instagram comments.
  • Is In Reply To Tweet: Filter conversations that were in reply to a specific tweet (based on the tweet's ID).

Please note, the Contains filters do not currently support comma separated lists. Rules containing multiple words will only find conversations with an exact match. For example, a Contains filter with "shipping, ships, delivery" would only find conversations with that exact phrase, it would not find conversations containing any of those keywords. We hope to include support for more advanced searching soon!


The next step is to choose an action, i.e. what should happen to conversations matching the filters you've set? Here's a run down of the actions you'll see:

  • Assign To: Assign matching conversations to a specific team member.
  • Move To: Move matching conversations, either to the Spam folder, or one of your custom folders.
  • Tag With: Add a tag to matching conversations. Please note, only existing tags can be added. If you need to create a new tag, hop over to the Tags tab within Settings.
  • Set Status To: Set the status of matching conversations to Closed.


Once your filter and action have been defined, click Save Rule.

Order of Automation Rules

At the moment, it is not possible to combine multiple filters and actions. For example, if you wanted to automatically assign and tag conversations based on keywords, you would need to create two separate rules.

One thing to bear in mind is that rules are generally run top to bottom, which is sorted by creation date, oldest on top. If you have conflicting rules, the one created most recently (i.e. sitting closest to the bottom of your list) will take precedence.

Example A

You have the following two rules:

  1. Contains Filter = "shipping" and Assign To Action = "Hannah Voice"
  2. Contains Filter = "shipping" and Tag With Action = "shipping"

These rules do not conflict, so matching conversations would be assigned to Hannah Voice and tagged with shipping.

Example B

You have the following two rules, where the first one was created before the second:

  1. Contains Filter = "shipping" and Assign To Action = "Hannah Voice"
  2. Contains Filter = "shipping" and Assign To Action = "Darcy Peters"

These rules are conflicting. Matching conversations will be assigned to Darcy Peters, since that rule was created most recently and sits closest to the bottom of the list.

Examples of Automation Rules

Automatically moving conversations to a custom folder based on type, recipient, or language

By default, all new conversations (of any type) will land in your Team Inbox. This works great for smaller teams, where all team members are responding to all conversations. However, if you have specific team members who deal with certain types of conversations, it might be more efficient for them to work out of dedicated Custom Folders, instead of the Team Inbox. This can be achieved using a combination of tags and Automation Rules. Some common setups include:

  1. Routing conversations based on message type
  2. Routing conversations based on recipient
  3. Routing conversations based on language

Please head over to this guide for a comprehensive walkthrough of the setups mentioned above.

Automatically tagging support related conversations

You might wish to tag all of your support related conversations so you can keep an eye on volume. To start, you'll need to create the tag you'd like to use to track these conversations, following the steps in this guide. Once created, team members can manually add the tag to any support related conversations they come across. It's also helpful to apply this tag automatically where you can.

Start by reviewing some recent support conversations and picking out the keywords people use. Typical examples might include "help", "problem", "how do I", "broken", "refund", "support", etc. You'll need to create a separate Automation Rule for each keyword.

In this case, choose the Contains Filter and then specify the keyword you'd like to use (e.g. help). Next, choose the Tag With Action and select the tag you created earlier.

Automatically assigning conversations containing a specific keyword

Perhaps one team member deals with all enquiries of a specific type. For example, maybe Katie takes care of all shipping related questions.

In this case, choose the Contains Filter and then specify the keyword "shipping". Next, choose the Assign To Action and select Katie.

Automatically assigning Spanish conversations to your Spanish speaker

Maybe you gets lots of conversations in Spanish and there is a particular person on your team who speaks Spanish, and therefore deals with those questions best.

In this case, choose the Language Is Filter and then select Spanish. Next, choose the Assign To Action and select the appropriate team member.

Automatically closing conversations

Do you gets tons of Tweets that only contain mentions and find that they never require a response from you? You might like to auto-close those conversations.

In this case, choose the Contains Only Mentions Filter. Next, choose the Set Status To Action and choose Closed.

Automatically moving conversations to Spam

Maybe the name of your brand or organization is real word. For example, at Buffer, we’ve seen Tweets about Netflix taking a while to “buffer”! Since these aren't relevant to us, we have an Automation Rule set up to route those straight to our Spam folder.

In this case, choose the Contains Filter and then specify the keyword you'd like to filer on. Next, choose the Move To Action and choose Spam.

Conversations from social contacts that you have muted will also be automatically routed to the Spam folder.

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