Friday, May 27, 2011

Syndicating yourself

Thanks to Kevin Grimes for the tips on how to get this setup.
I recently configured our community to syndicate to twitter, facebook, and LinkedIn. It was actually easier than i thought. I discovered that this can be used to syndicate your own self out to twitter and facebook.  This method only allows for one way communication from the community to the social networks.
So, here's how i did it:
  1. Sign up for a bit.ly account. I used the same password for all the accounts to make it easy. Once you've got your bit.ly account created, go to settings and make a note of the API key. You'll need that later.
  2. Make sure you have a twitter account and a facebook account.
  3. Connecting to Twitter and Facebook:
    1. Now go to twitterfeed.com and sign up for an account. Twitterfeed is a service that will take multiple RSS feeds and publish them to twitter and/or facebook. So, go get any RSS feeds you want to syndicate. I went and got the feed from my blog.  Twitterfeed has two steps, one to get data from your RSS feeds, and the other to determine where you want to publish that data.
    2. On the twitterfeed site, click 'Create new feed'. Give your feed a name; this name won't show up anywhere except in twitterfeed. It'll help you keep your feeds straight (I ended up with 10 feeds, so it was important to have some intelligent naming). Paste in the URL for the RSS feed and hit 'test rss feed'.
    3. Open advanced settings on that page. I change the update frequency to add up to 5 updates at a time. Since twitterfeed checks the feed every 30 minutes, it's possible that more than 1 new item appears in the feed. If this is so, twitterfeed should go ahead and publish as many as possible (which is a maximum of 5). Also, change the 'Include' option to include 'title only'.  'Post link' should already be checked; expand bit.ly settings and put in your bit.ly user account name and the API key. This will allow URLs to be shortened so they don't take up the majority of your post in twitter.
    4. Go on ahead to step 2. This is where you'll select where to publish your feeds to. Pick twitter and you'll be brought to a page asking you to pick what account to publish to. Your twitter account will not appear in the drop down box to begin with. To get it in there, click the huge 'authenticate twitter' button and sign in with your twitter account. Once you're brought back to twitterfeed's page, your account should be available in the drop down box. Select it then click 'Create service'.
    5. Repeat the process for facebook. For facebook, you can choose to publish the feed to your account or any of the pages you manage. The nice thing is that when you add the rest of your feeds, you won't have to re-authenticate. Your twitter/facebook accounts will be available from the drop down box.
    6. Once you've created the services for facebook and twitter, click the All Done button. If your feed has items, you should see them show up in facebook and twitter within a few minutes.
*If you want two way synchronization between twitter and facebook, you can use the facebook app called 'twitter'. Then you would only use twitterfeed to get your posts to twitter.