Integrating WordPress 3.2 with Twitter

Rich P. tells me all the cool kids use Twitter now. And that some people, instead of using RSS feeds, want to get blog updates from a Twitter feed.

I’m about four years late to that party, but I’m not ready to become a total curmudgeon yet. So I signed up for a Twitter account–I’m siliconundergro, or is that #siliconundergro? Or @siliconundergro?–and spent a little while figuring out how to get WordPress to talk to it.

After failed attempts with other WordPress integration plugins, the details of which have no value, I tried Wordtwit, which was verified WordPress 3.2-compatible. And it was actually extremely easy to get working. Just install, click the settings link inside Plugins, and since I was signed into Twitter in another tab, I had a button that said Sign into Twitter. I verified the application had permission to do that, and that was all it took.

For URL shortening, I chose the option to use the WordPress post ID, since it’s native to WordPress, reasonably short, and it’s one less thing that can break. Since I tend to write fairly long titles, I have to use some sort of URL shortening or it won’t fit in 140 characters.

You can also choose whether to allow yourself to tweet old posts. You may or may not want that ability, but I enabled it, since it gave me an easy way to see if the integration was going to work.

Once you install it and configure it, your Edit Post screen gets a new addition: a short Wordtwit widget on the side. Once you save your post as a draft, it tells you how many excess characters are left in the Tweet and a button gives you a chance to retry the Tweet if it fails.

I tested it by editing my most recent post, and clicking the button. And that was that–my post showed up in Twitter. From then on, it should be automatic, until either WordPress or Twitter change something.

Integrating WordPress with Twitter should be easy. Wordtwit requires a little more than just giving it a username and a password and walking away, but it’s not difficult, and it’s less involved than the other methods I tried that didn’t work. The catch is that Twitter integration, from what other people are saying, is something that breaks fairly frequently.

Why do it? Well, the SEO guys talk about having accounts everywhere else–Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and the like–and posting updates pointing back to your main site there, to make it easy for people to find you from all the usual places people look these days. Some other people say that just using other networks to post links back to your blog, and for no other purpose, is a pretty spammy thing to do.

I use Facebook as an e-mail substitute and a general way to keep tabs on what other people I know–or used to know–are doing, and I figure if my old classmates and coworkers make me read their Farmville and Mafia Wars updates, they can deal with a daily blog update.

Up until now, the only other thing I had was a Facebook account. But Facebook and Google have a strained relationship–understandably so–and Facebook and Microsoft are allies. So maybe that means Bing will know what I’m posting and what people are saying via Facebook, but Google won’t. But as far as I know, Google can see Twitter just fine.

I’m not expecting it to double my traffic or anything. But I don’t see that it will hurt anything. And if I figure out what the big deal is about Twitter in the meantime, so much the better.

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