Three Twitter tricks with Twitterfeed

You can use Twitter for more than just following your Twitter friends. Here's how.

There's a cool little utility, Twitterfeed, that performs a useful service: It can take almost any blog and feed it into a Twitter account, so you see new items when you're on Twitter or using any of the Twitter applications.

Twitterfeed can be used to do other cool things, too. Here's a walk-through of our top Twitterfeed projects: First, the basic blog-to-Twitter setup. Then, a trick with Twitterfeed to update Pownce and Twitter at the same time. And finally, how to use it to pump Facebook notifications into your Twitter account.

Project 1: Blog-to-Twitter

Twitterfeed can make (almost) any blog into a Twitterbot. CNET Networks

To get your favorite blog into your Twitter feed, first decide if you want to create a new feed for it or feed the blog info into an existing feed, like your personal account. I recommend the former. Create a Twitter account just for the blog. Later, you can follow it from your personal Twitter account.

You will also need an OpenID account to log in to Twitterfeed. OpenID (review) is a very different site authentication system from what people are used to, but don't freak. If you don't have an OpenID, just go to MyOpenID and sign up for an account.

When you log in to Twitterfeed you'll need your new feed's password, and your OpenID. Tell it your blog's RSS address (a link usually ending in .XML) and how often you want it to check for new items (once an hour is reasonable), and then wait for Twitterfeed to start scanning. Once the feed is getting picked up, you can "follow" the new Twitter account to get the blog in your feed. And of course, your friends can follow it too.

I've found that Twitterfeed is particular about RSS formatting, but standard blog platforms (Wordpress, Blogger, Typepad, etc.) should generate code it can handle.

Project 2: Pownce-to-Twitter

Pownce updates in Twitter: Useful, if you don't mind the cut-off text. CNET Networks

I like and use two nanoblogging systems, Pownce (review), and Twitter (how-to). But I can't possibly keep up with my friends on both. My solution has been to split my time, like a kid with divorced parents: during the workweek, Twitter gets me on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I update Pownce on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But using Twitterfeed, you can update both systems at once. Sort of.

Pownce generates RSS feeds from users' public time lines. When you write a post for the public (as opposed to just your friends, or a "set"), it goes into an RSS feed with this structure: http://www.pownce.com/feeds/public/{yourID}. You can use Twitterfeed to push that to Twitter, and then people can follow you in either place. See the full instructions on Jetpacked.

Note that if you already have a Twitter account, you'll want to push your Twitterfeed to your existing account, not a new one (as you did with Project 1), otherwise your existing followers won't see your updates. Also, Twitter readers will see only the first bit of your Pownce posts on Twitter; TinyURL links will send them to the full content.

And you'll still have to read both Pownce and Twitter to see what your friends are saying on both networks.

Project 3: Facebook-to-Twitter

Yes, you can get (some) Facebook updates in Twitter. CNET Networks

You can follow Twitterers on Facebook using Twitter's own Facebook app, but it's not quite as straightforward to follow Facebook friends on Twitter. ZDNet's Andrew Mager has a way, though. First, create a new Twitter account to follow your Facebook friends. Unless you want to expose your Facebook friends' updates to the whole world (which is probably a violation of Facebook's terms of service), click on "Protect my updates" when you're setting up the new Twitter account.

You could push the Facebook feed into your personal account, but that would be weird for your followers, since they'd then see everything your Facebook buddies are up to.

Now go to the "Friends" page on your Facebook account, click on the "Status Updates" tab, and grab the URL in the right-hand nav that's linked to from "Friends' Status Updates."

Go to Twitterfeed, give it the new Twitter account info and the Facebook URL from the previous step.

Then go to your personal Twitter account, and "follow" the new Twitter account you just created. Finally, log in to the new Twitter account and approve yourself as a follower.

After all this, what you'll get from your new Twitter/Facebook bot is your friends' status updates only. There is no official feed for your newsfeed, which has everything else that's happening in your Facebook world. There is a hack for this, but I have not tried it.

Also, as far as I know, you can't yet update your own Facebook status blurb via Twitter or Pownce, which would be really cool. If anyone has the secret to that trick, please let me know or post it here.

 

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