There is no doubt that Twitter is an essential tool when blogging, and therefore we also need some plugins to maximise Twitter’s benefit for our blog. The plugins I am going to mention will enable you to achieve these two important functions:
- Posting tweets on Twitter whenever you publish a new post.
- Get your recent tweets from your Twitter account and publish them in your blog’s sidebar.
As you can see we are therefore implementing a two-way process, the only issue we have to deal with is that of ignoring ‘new post’ tweets when importing our latest tweets. Luckily the plugin we will be using makes this a piece of cake.
Posting tweets on Twitter whenever you publish a new post.
For this function I suggest using the WP-to-Twitter plugin. The WP-to-Twitter plugin posts a Twitter status update from your WordPress blog using either the Cli.gs or Bit.ly URL shortening services to provide a link back to your post from Twitter. I personally prefer Bit.ly so I also suggest signing up for an API key from this page. You will need this key when setting up WP-to-Twitter.
So, let’s get cracking. First up, install the WP-to-Twitter. Then head over to the plugin’s settings page found under ‘Settings > WP -> Twitter’.
I use the following Basic Settings, here I am telling the plugin to only publish tweets when I publish a new post and use the Bit.ly URL shortening service. You can also set the text that will be shown on Twitter whenever a post is published. I quite like the default setting so I leave that as it is, but you also have a number of shortcodes available, they are also visible on this same page although I have not included them in my screenshot. If you change anything in the Tweet template you need to take note of any text you changed, as we will use it in the other plugin for retrieving Tweets.
You can also use the Bit.ly settings box to enter your username and API key. This will be needed for URL shortening when posting to Twitter.
Get your recent tweets from your Twitter account and publish them in your blog’s sidebar.
For importing the latest tweets from our Twitter account, we can use the excellent Tweet Blender plugin. This is a very advanced plugin that can show tweets from just one user or a list of users (as all other Twitter plugins do); however, it can also show tweets for a topic which you can define via Twitter hashtag or keyword. But there is more! It can also show tweets for multiple authors AND multiple lists AND multiple keywords AND multiple hashtags all blended together into a single stream. For our purposes we will only use some of its more basic functionality, however you can feel free to experiment with it and make the most of its functionality.
So, the process. Again, first thing is to install and activate the plugin. I always use the ‘Plugins > Add New’ interface instead of uploading via FTP, as I find it more fool-proof and faster to find the required plugin using the in-built search functionality.
Once installed, head over to Tweet Blender’s settings page under ‘Settings > Tweet Blender’. You will see a number of tabs, but the process for setting this plugin up is really quite simple. Under the ‘General’ tab, tick the first two options.
Now go to the ‘Filters’ tab. Remember we earlier mentioned that we do not want ‘New Post’ tweets to appear on our blog, and we will therefore use a filter to exclude them from the import, just use the setting as seen in the screenshot below and this will be solved. If you changed the text in the template earlier when we were setting up WP-to-Twitter, you must use that text instead of ‘New Post:’.
Leave the rest of the settings as they are.
To add the tweets to your sidebar, you have to use widgets:
- Go to ‘Appearance > Widgets’
- Drag and drop the Tweet Blender widget into the appropriate place on your sidebar.
- Update the Sources with your username and Save.
And that’s it! You should now be publishing new tweets onto your Twitter profile and also be grabbing the latest tweets back to your own blog’s sidebar.
Another plugin I should mention is Twitter Tools by Alex King and Crowd Favorite, it has similar features as the above but the one thing I really like about it is the ability to gather a weekly archive of all your tweets and create a post with them on your blog.