A few weeks ago there was some discussion on Twitter about how to share valuable content you find on the web or in blogs. Many folks are pasting titles and URLs or using the TweetMeme buttons on blogs to share posts. This can take up a large amount of time, just as Digg and social bookmarking sites can. Depending on if your goal is to increase followers or not, the backbone of most of the Twitter follower systems you see out on Twitter are based on sharing valuable content. There are other tools as well, but this one is the most common. If you have seen tweets stating ”Get 10,000 followers now” or “Twitter Traffic Machine” this post details some of their secret sauce.
Many in social media frown on any type of automation, but folks like Dan Schwabel mention this technique as a way to build your personal brand. Like anything, it’s all about moderation. The intent of the instructions below are to provide a high level overview of how to set it up.
Setting up Google Reader
First you must create a Google Reader account. If you don’t have a Gmail account you’ll need that to get started.
Create alerts for specific keywords you are interested in. You should also include an alert for your name or business while you are it. All part of the monitoring process. You’ll see my first alert in the screenshot above is my name.
Add blog subscriptions. Often times if a blog is setup correctly, they will offer Google Reader as a choice to subscribe to their feed. If not, you’ll need to cut and paste the blog feed URL over to Google Reader. If you have your own blog, make it easy and add Feedburner. I could write several posts on the power of Feedburner.
You have two choices. You can share an item or star an item. Each one of these has an associated RSS feed associated with it.
To navigate to the RSS feed, select Settings in upper right hand corner of Google Reader.
Under Settings select the tab that reads Folders and Tags.
The first item there to select should read Starred Items. Select View Public Page.
On the right hand side of this page you will see an RSS symbol with the words Atom Feed.
Click on that link and the URL in the address bar is the RSS feed for those starred items.
Copy that to your clipboard.
Setting up TwitterFeed
I setup my account to authenticate via Google. Just makes it easier to login.
Select Create Feed and you should see something like the below
Select Posting to twitter here or if you want you can post to Ping.fm and update all your other networks. For me I don’t want to litter my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles with everything I star.
Name the Feed
Paste the URL from the Google Reader Atom feed
The next step is to determine the frequency and how many new updates. Again, I would do this sparingly, but many will post 4 an hour and you’ll start to see them too much in your newstream. I often times will just unfollow folks if they post too many items that just aren’t relevent. One person I know just feeds reuters and other business news.
I only post title to make sure my items get ReTweeted.
If you are consistently sharing someone’s blog or your own, you may want to place a Post Prefix on there like “Seth Godin’s Blog”.
I have not used the keyword filter here but you could filer a specific blog, but if you are already staring keyworded items manually this may not be needed.
One big issue I have seen is that it won’t keep feeded a long list of starred items. It only pulls recently starred items within that last hr. So you have to star something every few hours which isn’t practical. Unless I have a setting wrong somewhere.
Now that I have shown you some of the basic steps to set this up let me tell you my opinion on this. It is a very slippery slope. It does work to create followers as I have done this for my some of my clients. In fact it works a very well. But the whole goal of social media is to create conversations. If you ask a question or post something and you rarely get a response, you have not connected with your followers. It does attract MLMers and spammers but so does anything on Twitter. Some people look upon these automated tools as gaming the system. In my case, I am personally selecting which items to share via my PC or iPhone. There is an iPhone app called Byline that really takes this to another level as it will pull in your Google Reader content and allow you to share or star it from anywhere.
Many of the automated Twitter growth systems just perform keyword searches and just post anything with that specific keyword. That’s why sometimes you’ll notice someone shared a link to something that just doesn’t make sense.
Also, on your TwitterFeed dashboard it also shows stats of how many times your item was viewed.
Let me know your tips and tricks as well on using Google Reader and TwitterFeed.
Mike Merrill is Director of Marketing at ReachLocal and Chief Bacon Maker and Marketing Strategist of Bacon Marketing. He is also Chairman of the Social Media Club of Dallas and co-organizer of Ignite Dallas.