Modern Software Experience

2009-01-22

web site

twintegration

There are various ways to integrate twitter into your own web site. For starters, twitter lets you include a link back to your own site on your twitter profile and offers some code you can use to display your last few tweets on your own site.

icons and buttons

There are many tweeter icons and ready-made follow me on twitter buttons you can use to link from your site to your twitter profile. Those buttons are typically placed in the footer, along the side of your blog (near the blogroll), or at the end of every blog post.

add-ins

There are various add-ins for blogging platforms that integrate twitter into your blog. Some will show your tweets, others will show tweetbacks complete with gravatars. There are tools that will automatically tweet for you when you post a new entry to your blog. There are add-ons that will automatically add a tweet this option at the end of ever blog post. There are little widgets to display twitter statistics, such as the number of followers you have.

There are many possibilities, and it is up to you to decide what suits you web site best. Below, I discuss some considerations and choices as I see them.

choices

It would be somewhat silly to add some twitter counter when there is not even a counter for the site itself.

twitter statistics

This web site has a fairly minimal and functional design, and I like to keep it that way, so I did not add a twitter counter. It would be somewhat silly to add some twitter counter when there is not even a counter for the site itself.
If I am going to add some counter to this site, it will be a counter for this site itself, not for some other site. That just does not make much sense to me.

I am sure quite a few webmaster disagree with me and will eagerly add various statistics, especially when they aim for deep integration of their site with twitter.
I do not see any value in displaying twitter statistics here, but any visitor who is curious about it need only click on the link to my twitter profile.

posting links

RSS feed

This is not a blog. There is no RSS feed. One reason for that I did not find a native Windows blogging tool that makes a deliberately simple standards-compliant web site of static pages like this, but that is a whole topic onto itself.

tweet new post

Anyway, the absence of an RSS feed was one reason for me to finally join twitter. Several readers had commented how convenient an RSS feed would be, and I certainly agree with them. I decided that I could meet their request for notification by tweeting about new articles.

complement

Now, I would be a terrible twitizen if that were all I tweeted about. I use twitter to post little snippets of information, such as interesting new web sites, a quick tip, or some interesting articles I read elsewhere. I try to answer some questions and the post the occasional joke.
Thus, my tweets are more than a bland stream of links that all point you back to this site, but actually complement this site by providing little extras.

autotweeting links

tweet bot

If you have a proper blog, you have an RSS feed, so you do not need tweet new posts, but perhaps you want to do so anyway. There are tools that will automatically tweet whenever you commit a new blog post to the blogosphere.
One of the most popular auto-tweeting tools is twitterfeed. It works by monitoring your blog’s RSS feed; as soon as there is a new entry in your blog feed, it tweets the link for you.

link spamming

There is nothing wrong with posting links on twitter, and there is nothing wrong with automating a menial task, but there is a lot wrong with treating twitter as nothing more than your personal link dumping ground. That is link spamming.

Feel free to use autotweet your blog posts, but be present on twitter and do make sure that you tweet considerably more than your bot does. Do not be surprised if people start calling you a link spamming bot if your bot has more presence than you do.

Use your TwitID to be part of the twitter community, or get out.

RSS feed

Using twitter as a link dumping ground is not just impolite and likely to get tweeple calling you a dirty rotten link spammer because you are one, it also shows the entire world that you do not understand the first thing about blogging, feeds or twitter.
Oh, by the way, if you are really eager to become a twitter non grata, be sure to spam your feed to multiple twitter accounts.

If you had ever tried to use twitter, you’d understand that dumping your RSS feed on twitter does not make sense. Why would anyone want to use your possibly delayed stream there, and then follow an opaque TinyURL to your post, when they can follow your existing RSS feed directly already? Posting nothing but link spam is polluting the twittosphere.
Use your TwitID to be part of the twitter community, or get out.

tweetbacks

Tweetbacks are trackbacks for twitter. Trackbacks typically show a snippet of the blog post that links back to yours, tweetbacks show the entire tweet. If you have trackbacks already, you probably want to add support for tweetbacks too.

Right now, twitter does not support any trackback protocol, and that the initial tweetback implementation works by scanning URL shorteners. It is resource intensive, will miss post that include a full URL, and only scans the top five URL shorteners.
In short, the first implementation is neither reliable nor efficient, but the idea has been receive enthusiastically, so this is likely to improve in a rapid tempo.

tweet this

bookmark button barrage

I am no fan of bookmark ribbons, and Bookmark This explained in some length that I consider bookmark ribbons to be band-width hogging page clutter.
If including a barrage of bookmark buttons at the end of every blog post is pretty arrogant already, including a tweet this button is even more conceited and insulting than an email this button.
Suggesting that readers want to bookmark your blog post is one thing. Visitor that do so mark that bookmark for themselves, and decide that share that bookmark passively, for other users of the bookmarking service to discover. Suggesting that users actively tweet how fantastic your post is another thing. That button is an implicit claim that your every post is so magnificent that your readers will be eager to immediately tell all their friends about it - despite the fact that the tweet this button is insulting.

insulting

The tweet this button insults your reader in two ways. It tells them you do not trust them to recognise the magnificence of your every post, and that you doubt their ability to tweet a link.

conceited

The tweet this button is pretty conceited, but not conceited enough yet to match a truly epic level of arrogance. So, for the incorrigibly conceited few, there is also the possibility to include retweet this buttons on every tweetback, or even include a ready-made retweet link in the text for the tweet this button…

follow me on twitter

The follow me on twitter button is fundamentally different from bookmark this, email this and tweet this buttons; the follow me on twitter button does not link to the current web site article or blog post.
While bookmark buttons, email this and tweet this buttons are essentially superfluous, arrogant and even insulting clutter, the follow me on twitter button is not; it alerts the reader to your twitter page, the micro-blog that complements your macro-blog that they might otherwise not know about.

…do think of twitter and your blog as a micro-blog and a macro-blog complementing each other.

complementary

However you use decide to use twitter exactly, do think of twitter and your blog as a micro-blog and a macro-blog complementing each other. It makes no sense to link twitter if you only use as a dumping ground for links back to your macro-blog. It makes perfect sense for your macro-blog and twitter to link to each other when both offer value to your readers.

deep integration

The most popular functionality will migrate from third-part add-ons into the core products. Blogging platforms and tools may display both blog post and tweets. Expect major blogging platforms and tools to support gravatars, tweetbacks and some tweet stats.

Many bloggers will need to do no more than create a twitter account, start twittering and upgrade to the next version of their tool to get all the integration they want.

Whether functionality is built-in functionality or added-on can make a difference, but what really matters is whether the functionality fits your site add all. Do ignore twitter, do not simply go with your platform’s default choices, and do not install every add-on either. Consider what suits your site best.

links