Blog to twitter is working

Yes, yes. Focusing on using twitter for the very web 1.0-ish purpose of getting messages out from a central source seems to go against the grain. But again, remember the community I’m working with: A minuscule number of current stakeholders are on twitter. [I can only find 5 (count ’em) nationwide. Compare that with nearly 300 on Facebook. That about mirrors the stats I’ve heard of about 1,000,000 on twitter and 60,000,000 or so on Facebook. A social network/sub-network with such a small number of participants is, I think, doomed to fail — as we’ve learned from the various incarnations of http://discuss.aauw.org.]

The goal of this exercise is to put AAUW info into the SMS stream so the SMS “natives” (who might not be reached with e-mail) get at least a few pings (if they choose to connect). We’re months away from figuring out if this really works — I won’t have much time to publicize it until after July 1. One piece to evaluate will be whether this really does bring in new contacts — or just reaches, say, the Facebook contacts in a different way.

But, as I said in the comments on the previous post, I think we’re there. The missing piece was twitterfeed.com. I’d heard of it before, and even got part way to setting up an account (had used my yahoo account to create an OpenID). But the full possibilities didn’t really register.  Here’s the summary:

  1. Set up an RSS feed for the items you want to send to twitter. [In AAUW NC we have an “announcements” category for items that appear on the front page of the WordPress-based www.aauwnc.org. That seemed like a good subset of all the news to share in twitter.]
  2. Choose an administrator for the twitter feed and set up an OpenID  for the administrator. Now this is my first experiment with OpenID, so it’s unlikely I understand all the implications here. One can use a Yahoo or AOL account to generate an OpenID (I used Yahoo). It also looks like it’s possible to link a WordPress.com or Blogger blog to set up an OpenID (if I’m reading the twitterfeed help correctly). I haven’t read the T&C’s carefully — if someone has a link to the OpenID basics (particularly OpenID for an organization rather than an individual), please post.
  3. Create a twitter account that will retweet the items in the RSS feed, or choose one that already exists to tweet information of interest to the expected audience.
  4. Login to twitterfeed.com with the OpenID and create a twitterfeed that links the RSS feed to the twitter account. There’s a minimal amount of configuration (titles only, include link).
  5. Tell people who want to get the messages through IM or SMS to follow the twitter user created in #3 and set “notifications” for that user to “on”. [The assumption is that such folks exist — otherwise everyone could just follow the RSS feed directly over the web.]

Now I’m not an SMS “native” (I can send and receive text messages on my phone, but it’s not something that I’ve integrated into my life). I haven’t drunk the Koolaid of IM (remembering the evil that was “write” back in the 80’s). I don’t use a PDA (paper DayTimer person, would you believe), let alone a smart phone. So I may have missed the point completely. If so, please do holler at me. But if you want to get AAUW NC announcements through twitter, follow “aauwnc”.

Other notes:

  • Twitterfeed puts a limit on the number of messages it will forward – currently a max of 5 messages an hour. Consider this when choosing your feed in #1, and don’t expect “real time” forwarding of the messages.
  • I “own” bbvx, so setting up twitter.com/bbvx was okay. I’m currently board chair for the all-volunteer AAUW NC, so I think I’m okay there, too. I do have a question, though, on what approval would be required to set up similar accounts for “aauw” and “nccwsl,” and what safeguards we should think about when passing, say, “aauwnc” from one person to another. [Yeah, yeah, I’ve been webmanager for nearly 10 years, but at some point …]
  • What happens to the tweets that are sent to the account set up in #3? If one uses an account that is set up just for that purpose, it, presumably won’t be “following” anyone, so there will be little motivation for anyone to check the twitter account. That means, I think, that direct messages will go into a black hole. Replies (@ messages) could be followed via RSS using an RSS reader that allows for authentication on the feed (I’m using RSSOwl).

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