I have been researching different ways to keep your social media audience informed when you make an update to your website. In this article I look at just 2 of the many different ways I have identified to keep those people in the loop on what is happening with your site. In this article I look at 1 option strictly for WordPress while the other option could apply to any site.
So you have a website and you realized you needed to get into this “social media thing.” You have heard people talk about Twitter and Facebook and maybe even other sites like LinkedIn and Google+. What I’m about to show you isn’t a secret and it isn’t rocket science. The first method provides a way to update Twitter and Facebook automatically when you add new items to your WordPress site.
The second method is not fully automatic but it is still fairly simple to use AND it works for any site AND you can update more than just Twitter and Facebook using it.
Method 1 – WP to Twitter
As I said, method 1 is meant for WordPress self-hosted sites. WordPress.com hosted sites have an option built in to publicize your website on popular social media sites. One disclaimer – if you are uncomfortable with installing and configuring plugins, you might want to avoid method 1.
For method 1 you will need a few things:
- You will need to have your Twitter account configured to update Facebook automatically. To do this you will need to connect your Facebook profile to your Twitter profile. Do this by going into your Twitter profile under settings and link the account.
- You will need to create a new twitter app. Don’t worry, the plugin listed below walks you through the process. From the app you will need the Consumer Key, Consumer Secret, Access Token, and Access Token Secret. Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense yet, as the plugin walks you through the setup.
- Optionally you will need a URL shortening service. I use Bit.ly. For that you will also need a username and API key.
- Finally you need to install the WP to Twitter plugin.
First, log into your WordPress admin area and install the plugin.
Next follow the configuration instructions. It tells you how to create a Twitter App using the Twitter Dev site and get the keys etc. you need. If you make a mistake you can always log into the developers site and create one on your own. Simply log in with your Twitter ID and select “My Applications”. Here you will see a “Create Application” button. The plugin needs the Consumer and Access info as well as your Twitter username to work.
If you use the optional URL shortening service, you will also need to add that info as well. For Bit.ly, which I use, log into your account and then go to the Bit.ly API key page to get the information.
Provided you have entered the information correctly you should now be able to post your updates to Twitter automatically, which then also updates Facebook. To view or change settings of the plugin, go to “Settings” and select the “WP to Twitter” link. Here you can set options such as notifying when adding or changing posts and pages as well as some link settings and more.
The nice thing with this plugin is that is also works for scheduled posts. That means if you like to spend time in your day setting up your blog or site to update on its own, the plugin will follow suit and Tweet your new posts as they happen!
For example, on one blog I have I use the “Press This” bookmarklet to blog about interesting articles and links I find on other sites. Once I save my post using the link, it is automatically published and then posted to Twitter and Facebook.
Alternatively, I save the post via the bookmarklet, and then select the edit link to log into my blog to edit the post. Here I change it from “publish immediately” to schedule and then chose the time I want it published.
So, if you are comfortable with plugins, apps and API keys and only want to update Twitter and Facebook then method 1 might be for you.
But if you are not all that comfortable with the methods described above, or you want to control when the update happens, or want to update more sites than just Twitter and Facebook then method 2 will be for you.
Method 2 – Hootsuite
I remember when Hootsuite first came out. It was actually developed by a guy originally from my area. I remember looking at it but at the time I really only used Facebook. I had a Twitter account but didn’t do a lot of updating so I didn’t see a need for it.
Flash forward to today and the existence of more Social Media options and now I see a definite need for it.
Using Hootsuite is very easy. First, go to the website and create a free account. Once you’ve done that, log in and begin adding your social profiles. You can add up to 5 profiles for free and you can chose from: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, WordPress, MySpace and mixi.
Adding profiles is easy – put in your login information and allow the site to connect to your profile and then authorize it to post on your behalf.
Once all your profiles are added, it’s as simple as clicking on the “Compose message” box.
You will see the small window open with the 140 character counter at the bottom. This is to allow you to be sure your post will fit in Twitter. If you update all your networks at once you will want to be sure to keep in that 140 character limit. If you do sites other than Twitter you are allowed more characters.
To notify the world of your new site update, first write it (of course) and then copy the link to it. Log into Hootsuite and select “Compose message”. Start typing your message and make sure to add the link to your page in the “Add a link” box. When you paste the link you will see a “Shrink” button. Hootsuite uses its own URL shortening service called Ow.ly to shorten the link and save space.
Once you have composed your post and inserted your link (and ensured it is under 140 characters if you are posting to Twitter) you need to select your networks.
Next to the composer window it says “Click to Select Profile”. When you click this window you will see all the profiles you have set up. You can select all or just the ones you want to use and then hit “Send Now” in the compose window.
That’s it – Hootsuite will send out your update to all the selected networks. In fact if you are reading this article from a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ you got here through the link generated by Hootsuite as that is how we post updates from our site.
You will also see other options in the message composition window. You can attach images, add your location, set privacy options and even schedule updates to occur later.
Scheduling is really handy especially if you do a bunch of updates at once. You can set up the system to send out your updates when you want, or use the smart scheduling service to decide the best time to send them.
Scheduling helps keep your audience engaged as all your posts and updates get equal visibility. That’s why I use scheduling for both methods listed above.
Scheduling your posts using method 1 works the same way as writing and publishing a bunch of posts at once and then scheduling with Hootsuite (method 2). The end result is the same, but how you got there depends on you.
So if you are looking for a way to automate your social media updates consider one of these 2 methods.
As always, if you would like to do this but are unsure how to begin, or need help configuring anything just contact us and we will show you how integrating social media into your online marketing campaign is one of the most inexpensive but powerful tools you can use.