30 January 2010

Retweet articles from Google Reader

These past days I began looking into the Tweetmeme API to see if there is a way to change the URL of their button for websites. My idea was to append some Google Analytics tags to the page URL, in order to track clicks originating from Tweetmeme retweets. But as that proved unsuccessful until now, I realized I could do something else with the API, namely build a ‘Retweet’ button right into Google Reader, using the ‘Send To’ feature.

Simply create a new custom link in the Reader settings and use the following for the three fields:

Tweetmeme static Retweet countName: Tweetmeme       
URL: http://api.tweetmeme.com/share?url=${url}
Icon URL: http://tweetmeme.com/images/favicon.ico

You can further customize the URL to change the ‘source’ (your Twitter username for example) or use your preferred shortening service, by following the instructions from the Tweetmeme documentation. For some of the services (but curiously not bit.ly), you can also add the API key in the URL for extended functionality:


The new custom link in Google Reader will pop-up a new Twitter window with the link and article title, ready to update:Retweet from Google Reader status

Unfortunately, after using the new ‘Send To’ link a couple of times, I realized there is a major limitation to Tweetmeme: it doesn’t recognize addresses redirected through FeedBurner or other feed tracking services. In these cases, the link from Google Reader goes to the Tweetmeme home page, with an internal error “unable to resolve URL”. Since a lot of blogs use FeedBurner, this makes the new link almost unusable.

As a workaround, you can use the following URL in Google Reader to mimic the Tweetmeme Retweet, using a modified Twitter status:

http://twitter.com/?status=RT @tweetmeme ${title} ${short-url}
This works for any link, but you can no longer control the shortening service, it defaults to bit.ly.

For the time being, my preferred solution remains Reader2Twitter, a small webapp that posts everything you share in real-time with the least amount of effort.

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