01 December 2009

Easily share your articles through social networks

Publishing a blog post is only the beginning of your work as blogger. Like a product, an article should be promoted and ‘marketed’ to insure as many people as possible discover it. One of the first steps is to share your new blog post with your social networking friends. If you want to automate this task, the webapp Twitterfeed could be the best solution. I discovered it a while back as I was searching for a way to tweet my shared items from Google Reader. After Reader introduced the ‘Send-to’ links, I stopped using it, only to rediscover it after launching this blog. From the numbers it displays on the front page, the service seems to be quite popular!Twitterfeed - Feed your blog to Twitter

Twitterfeed is very straightforward to use: choose whether you want to post to Twitter or Facebook and add your feed address. With an OpenID you can even skip creating an account! If you need more fine-tuned control, under “Advanced Settings” you can choose the update frequency, the URL-shortening service, and even filter the articles by keywords. If you have a bit.ly account, you can also integrate it through the API and watch the statistics unfold on the summary page.

Another newly introduced feature allows you to enhance the shared URLs with Google Analytics UTM tags. It’s a great way to measure the impact of sharing through the social networks compared to feed readers and other traffic sources, and possibly the only solution to track links inside Facebook right now. A small tip if you are also a FeedBurner user: use a feed address that does not redirect to FeedBurner, as this service will convert your links to track them and the clicks will show up in Analytics as originating from FeedBurner, instead of the real source. For example, Blogger users should append ‘?redirect=false’ to the feed address, like this: http://exde601e.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?redirect=false Twitterfeed with redirected FeedBurner links

Another thing I discovered accidentally a few days back is that Twitterfeed has some rules when checking for new content from the feed: it should only re-post if all of pubDate, GUID (if present) and link change. The background is, I updated an older article, published before Twitterfeed was setup to update my Twitter account with new blog posts. Later, to my surprise, I found a status update with that article on Twitter! According to their rules, Twitterfeed interpreted it as a new posting and published it. That may actually be a good thing, since posting a link more than once can help you gain a bigger audience.

There are, of course, some alternatives to Twitterfeed on the web. If HootSuite is your Twitter client of choice, check out the “RSS/Atom” tab under “Settings” for a similar feature, although with fewer options: you are restricted to their own shortening service, ow.ly, and you can’t send the links to Facebook yet. Since they recently released Facebook support, maybe the latter feature will also be added soon. Or, if you would only like to quickly sync the shared items from Google Reader with your Twitter account, the small app reader2twitter may be the best choice.

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