Before Spring Break I blogged a plea for help on integrating Twitter and blogging. I got some great suggestions – most of them off-line.
The biggest challenge I faced was trying to figure out my objectives for using Twitter. I had basic integration of my tweets into the sidebar on my WordPress blog (using Twitter for WordPress). After I looked at how others used Twitter and thought some more about what I wanted to accomplish – and what was right for TheContentGuy.net – I came up with two primary goals.
First, I wanted to generate a tweet every time I posted to the blog, mainly to notify my network. LinkedIn does this automatically with the WordPress app, but I wanted to extend my reach beyond LinkedIn.
Second, I’ve wanted for some time to have a simple way to reblog articles of interest to my network, without feeling like I need to take the time to comment and create a full-blown blog post. Mike Axelrod and I had experimented with reFeed last month to generate a custom RSS feed out of hand-picked articles we wanted to reblog. reFeed was a bit of a handful and wasn’t quite ready for primetime (Mike and I promise to blog on that experience at a later date).
What I realized over the last several days was that a lot of people simply tweet URLs to items of interest on the web. I decided to use Twitter to create my RSS feed, and to integrate that on a “headlines” digest page on the blog. It’s simpler, and I can do it from anywhere, even though most of the time I’ll be at my desktop.
Mike pointed me to this great article by Glen Stansberry on 10 Awesome Ways to Integrate Twitter with your Website. It was a good place to start shopping for the ideas and code I needed to begin. Right there I found some great answers.
For the first goal – tweeting my blog posts – I first tried Twitterfeed. It seemed perfect for the job: you simply provide an authentication to your Twitter account and the URL to the RSS feed you want to tweet. Unfortunately, today the site was down due to a hardware migration, so I’ll have to evaluate it another time.
Continuing on, I found Twitter Tools by Alex King. This actually does everything I needed. I can generate tweets every time I blog, can generate a digest of my tweets (daily, weekly, or both), and can blog my tweets (although I’m not planning on this anytime soon – the sidebar widget serves this purpose just fine). I’ll be adding Twitter Tools to the site later today.
Mike and I had a great conversation this morning about how he uses Twitter, and it really solidified my thinking. I’m still experimenting with following other people’s tweets; so far there are only a few that I am really interested in – mostly for professional purposes. I’m still sorting out the mindshare issues that yet-another-input-channel presents me as a media consumer, and until I get my head around that I’m not so sure I’m ready for a tweetreader app.
On the other hand Mike had his usual great insights about tweeting and the difference between tweeting a blog headline and blogging the headline. He made this great analogy – a tweet of the headline is like the teaser for a newspaper story you see in a box on page one. It isn’t the headline, rather it’s something that compels you to turn to the story. I’ll keep that in mind as I tweet to notify others about my own blog posts.
Over the next several weeks I’ll be experimenting with using tweets to create a digest of news articles of interest to the content community. If anyone has ideas about best practices or any suggestions for how I can do this better, drop me a comment.