27 August 2012

HOWTO have a "professional" twitter account without overloading yourself using identi.ca

selfpromotionIt's worth noting that this advice might very well change; Twitter is currently changing its rules somewhat (and getting some flak about it - see this Lifehacker post), so depending on when you read this, your mileage may vary.  And sometimes things get flaky - thanks to all the people who were patient when I was playing with these things last night.

EDIT @1654:  Identi.ca's mirroring option is not working the way I wanted it to.  Therefore, replace the bits about using it with using Twitterfeed.  I'm still not happy about the erratic nature of Twitterfeed's support lately, but I'm not sure what else I can do about it.

There's three big things to worry about when you're doing self-promotion online:  Inbound links, getting the word out there enough, and not getting it out too much.  This setup (after some tweaking) should help mitigate that somewhat for a business account.

Yes, a business account.  Over the last week, I've been setting up the official Alliteration Ink twitter account specifically to help separate out the publishing-specific updates and news from the rest of my stream-of-everything online sharing.  (Note:  If you want to make sure you don't miss any open calls for submissions or announcements of new releases, you want to join the Alliteration Ink e-mail list.)

You want more inbound links - inbound links tend to give you more pagerank (read: relevance) in search engines.  It's not something to obsess over - they have algorithms to correct for people who try to game the system - but it's not a bad idea.  But it's a nice side benefit of getting your information to wherever people are already using social media.

Here's the steps I used.  It seems like a lot of work - though each step is really quick and easy - but it's a "set up once" kind of deal on purpose.  Until someone changes their Terms of Service, I should be done with this for months or years.

  1. I have a separate e-mail address for Alliteration Ink.  It actually routes to my main mail account, and I've configured Gmail to let me send and get e-mail as that account.  
  2. I created a new profile for my web browser.  (Instructions for Firefox, Chrome.)  This saved me a lot of logging in and out from web services - I just hit Alt-Tab to switch between windows.
  3. Twitter is kind of my "online home", so I started with a new account there.  I filled in the contact information, including who was writing for that account.
  4. I already have a Facebook Page for Alliteration Ink (it's here, stop by and hit "like" if you want).
  5. Multiple accounts in iOS (for my iPhone) is actually fairly easy;  check your application of choice.  That said, I wouldn't be doing multiple Twitter accounts if I thought I was going to be using the Alliteration Ink account the way I use my main account.  Otherwise, it would be complete information overload.  The Alliteration Ink account is primarily for "push" statements, and relatively infrequent propagation of blog posts.
  6. I already have a Tumblr blog specifically for Alliteration Ink - but any blog that creates an RSS feed will do.
  7. I created a new (free) profile for Alliteration Ink at Bufferapp
  8. I created a new profile for Alliteration Ink at ifttt (if this then that).  Turn on the Twitter, Bufferapp, Facebook Page, and Tumblr (or RSS) channels.
  9. I created an account at Identi.ca for Alliteration Ink.  
  10. I already have a G+ page for Alliteration Ink (here) - but because their system is closed, it can't be automated in the same way.  I did set up a ManageFlitter account so that posts at Google Plus will go to Twitter.

Right.  Now to make it all work...
 
  • In Twitter, follow some accounts.  I personally followed only people that I've interacted with on a professional (writing) basis.  Keep it limited.
  • In ifttt, have it post directly to your Facebook Page whenever your account tweets.  (Example recipe here).
  • In ifttt, have it post to Bufferapp whenever a new post appears in your Tumblr or RSS feed. 
  • (Example recipe here.)
  • In Bufferapp, set your tweeting schedule to the opposite time of the day than you usually post.  For example, I usually schedule stuff for the beginning of the work day, so my buffer schedule is all for the evening.

Remember - OPPOSITE time of day from when the post goes "live"!


This does not work the way I thought it did at all.  Use Twitterfeed instead, or if you send it to Identi.ca, do not have it go to Twitter.

  •  In Identi.ca, go to settings and then mirroring.  You can add your RSS feed (and several, if you like) here.  Change mirroring style to "Repost the content under my account".  [EDIT:  THIS DOES NOT WORK THE WAY I THOUGHT.  That's essentially equivalent to Tumblr's "reblog", which is not what we want.  So I'm currently trying out "Repeat" mode.]
  • In Identi.ca, go to the twitter tab, and connect your Twitter account.   Check "Automatically send my notices to Twitter".  Your choice on the other two settings.

ONLY do this with your own content!  Seriously!


And you're done.

End result?  I post a blog about something new on the Alliteration Ink blog.  It goes live at 9am.  It's picked up by Identi.ca (via the RSS feed), and is posted at Identi.ca and Twitter.  IFTTT picks it up and posts it to the Facebook page.  IFTTT also saved it to Bufferapp, and goes out again without any effort on my part in the evening to Twitter and Facebook.  They'll be hours apart.

Regular twitter updates?  Only go once to Twitter, then to the FB page.  If I bother to post directly to Identi.ca, then they also go once to Twitter, then to the FB page.  (I would recommend getting a separate desktop twitter client, perhaps something really simple like TTYtter, or a plugin for Pidgin to send messages.)

So why use Identi.ca instead of a service like Twitterfeed?  Honestly, I've gotten more and more annoyed at Twitterfeed's slowness and strange behavior. (Posting items over a week old - and three at a time - is a bit surreal...) Also, Identi.ca is opensource, and I wanted to get a presence there if Twitter gets flakier on down the road.  And it's additional links and an additional audience.  Works for me.  (RSS Graffitti is also having some hiccups - I may drop them down the line as well.)

You can also do fun things like get a real RSS feed from your identi.ca, so you can have your personal account automatically RT items.    Go to your personal account's IFTTT, choose the RSS Feed channel, then have it post to your personal Twitter, and have the post be:

RT @{{EntryTitle}}

Since your business/blog/professional twitter account name should be the same on identi.ca and twitter, it works just fine. Edit:  It doesn't always work the way I think it should from Identi.ca - but you can get your twitter RSS feed from this website and plug it in instead.

Buffer is an important part of this system as well.  You don't want your feed looking like this:

Test before you get a ton of followers....


But you still want to get your message to the people who are looking at completely different times of day.  This setup means that I post once, just like I normally would, and it goes to multiple different locations (at different times!) without any effort on my part.

I do get notifications for the Alliteration Ink account on my phone (just like my regular Twitter account), and I get the pages notifications as well.  But by and large, those are designed for me to put material out there... not to consume material.  By doing this, I'm able to get it across several platforms, at different times of day, and without saturating my feed on any of the platforms.

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