How to post to twitter and Facebook together

May 31

If you're making any vague attempt to keep up with the monster that is social networking then you'll no doubt be on twitter and Facebook, however you may well also have realised, after your initial burst of enthusiastic activity, that actually trying to come up with unique stuff both twitter and Facebook is pretty time consuming and kinda requires you to be in creative mood all the time - that or have a particular bee in your bonnet. And I don't know about you but I struggle with that......and then you have that thought:

What if I could just update one system and post to both of them at the same time.....in fact even better what if I could just update one and post to several place at one time

Now the more pedantic search engine optimisation and social networking guru's will tell you shouldn't do this. Theoretically twitter and Facebook are different audiences and you should be posting according to your audience and how they use the social media platform, and actually they're right really. You'll also misout on the various features each of them individually offer, such as website preview in Facebook, because twitter will just post the URL as part of the message. But I know you don't care about that - that's that why you're reading this right? Well fortunately for us less dynamic folks with real jobs (ooooh touchy touchy) you can post to Facebook directly from twitter (going from Facebook to twitter is a lot more problematic so forget that). 

There are a couple of regular contenders that pop-up for posting to Facebook via twitter, specifically selective tweets and twitters own Facebook app. I run a couple of twitter accounts and Facebook pages and one of these apps has failed on both accounts and simply will not work, and after a bit of Googling (who knew that would be verb 10 years ago!) it seems lots of other people have had problems too....so what now?

Now I use a Facebook app called RSS graffiti which, excuse my french, is just bloody awesome! It basically allows you to read from any RSS feed and post to your wall either as a page or as yourself in a variety of layout options. If you don't know what an RSS feed is don't worry, as a web developer I'm more than familiar with RSS feeds and I happen to know that twitter offer a search API that will return results as RSS (or atom or json).

Brilliant, I thought I can get rid of all these stupid apps for posting to Facebook via twitter and just do it all in one place. I got cracking and tried to use my twitter RSS feed which is: http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=%40tappetyclick. Unfortunately if you enter this into RSS Graffiti you'll get this message:

....well that's a swine eh!.....

The good news is that all is not lost, we just need another step.

All you have to do is take that same URL and pass it through an RSS aggregator of your choice such as feedburner (as I did) or yahoo pipes which will give you a new feed URL. In my case: http://feeds.feedburner.com/tappetyclick-Facebook-twitter. 

Now you can put that into RSS graffiti and it doesn't care anymore.

So why is this better than the apps designed to do this on Facebook? I hear you ask.....Well there are a few reasons:

  • It keeps everything in one place or one app (RSS graffiti) and as a software engineer I like this.
  • RSS graffiti gives you decent options on how it publishes to Facebook such as overriding titles, the post layout, who you post as, how frequently, delayed publishing etc etc - it generally a good egg.
  • I have found that these apps designed to publish to Facebook via twitter tend to seem to be more geared to posting on a user profile rather than a Facebook page - and even then they randomly don't work sometimes
  • Most importantly if you can be bothered to get your head around the twitter search API (its worth noting that all the documentation is json feeds but actually twitter search can return an atom or rss feed. All you have to do is change .json to .atom or .rss as appropriate - though I can't find any documentation about this) and the parameters you can use then actually there is way more flexibility and control using this technique. As it says on the parameters page the best way to start constructing a search if you don't know the API is:
  • Most of the apps either post all your tweets or allow you to use a hash tag such as #fb to control what goes to Facebook from your twitter feed. This method of using rss feeds to post of Facebook from twitter allows you to construct any feed URL you like, based on any search. So from one twitter feed you could update as many different Facebook pages as you like just using different hash tags, or if you had several people tweeting you could selectively pull tweets from their feed into one Facebook page (which is a cool idea I just thought of) and they don't have to do anything - you can build the feeds yourself (ask them first obviously).

Despite having read the twitter terms of service I can't quite work out why RSS graffiti won't publish twitter feeds and this chap https://twitter-atom.appspot.com/ seems to have had a similar problem. The only thing I did find (which is kinda obvious really) is that if you're going to re-publish anyone tweets then you need to get their permission.

Happy Face-tweeting readers

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twitter
facebook
rss graffiti
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