Category Archives: Social Media

How to Automate Tweets

For the past several weeks I’ve been experimenting with auto-populating my Twitter stream through RSS feeds and automatically tweeting updates. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.”

Automated TweetsYes, I know social media is about interaction and connections, but here’s why I’m OK, philosophically, with this approach: I normally share news items I find interesting all the time. I’ve just set up a way for that a happen automatically, and with more frequency than would be happening if I were doing so manually, and I love it.

I still manually tweet, retweet and reply to tweets, of course, but now I’ve also set up a way for other things to come in that I wouldn’t ordinarily have the time to share.

In fact, I’ve noticed that engagement is on the rise for me using this approach. I’m getting more favorites and retweets, as well as comments and conversations. I feel this is just as good, if not better than if I were scouring my sources for this content by hand.

Automate your Twitter content

This is possible through the magic of IFTTT.com — which stands for “If This Then That.” Here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Sign up with IFTTT.com
  2. Find some RSS feeds of sites with content you would like to share. For example, here are some I use from The New York Times, The Atlantic and CNN Tech.
  3. Set up an IFTTT recipe that posts a tweet each time there’s a new item in the feed. It should look like so:
  4. iftttRepeat this for as few or as many RSS feeds you like. In my case, many of the blogs I follow automatically provide links to their feeds, which are generally in the format of http://nameofblog/feed.

That’s it! Your Twitter stream is about to be hopping, with all the news you see to include from the sources you select. Just don’t let it replace your actual interaction on the site.

Curated Content? Curated Sources.

The stories I share are of interest to me, covering such topics as art, photography, technology, and humor – all things that I would be sharing anyway. So it’s still curated content, since I’m in effect curating the sources.

And I’m on Twitter as much as I was before experimenting with automation. I still respond to mentions, and converse with other Twitter users just as I always have. The only difference now is that instead of five tweets a day, my stream has about 50, many of which I never would have discovered Just in my own web browsing, so it’s also a reading list generation for myself.

This is not to say this approach will work for everyone. Or that flooding your Twitter stream with the same exact headlines as BuzzFeed will make you a Twitter superstar. I’ve just found something that meets my goals of expanding what I would already be doing, which includes more interaction — and isn’t that the point, after all?

What do you think? Have you experimented with automating content before? Have you followed the above steps, and if so, what have your results been? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Top 25 Mobile Photos of 2014 at Flickr

My photo, “Summer’s Requiem” is one of the
5 best black & white mobile images of the year at Flickr – woohoo!

Well, this is quite an honor. Of the billion+ photos uploaded to Flickr in 2014, one of mine was in the mobile top 25 according to the Flickr blog (#14, shown below), along with 24 other really great images — and one of only 5 black and whites. Thanks, Flickr!

flickr2014topmobile25Here’s what I say about this image at its page:

On the first day of fall, I was headed into a building for an early morning appointment. I looked down and noticed this leaf with the morning dew when walking in, but did not get a shot. After the appointment, it was still there with the glistening morning dew, and I stopped in my tracks so as not to miss it. The heart-shaped leaf and tear-like droplets framed by the concrete sidewalk all made the perfect metaphor at the changing of the seasons: happy reflections on the season past… maybe even sadness at its passing. But ahead of that: lovely things to come. To me, the best compositions are musical; you can almost hear them hum when you study them. So naturally, this would be a requiem. I converted to grayscale, added a slight vignette at the top and sharpened just a bit to highlight the macro-vision detail of the leaf’s veins, amplified by the water.

Thanks again for this incredible honor. Go follow me there and follow the Flickr Blog for a regular curated stream of consistently cool imagery.

If Facebook Can Experiment, So Can You

Change up your own social algorithm and see what happens.

The Many Faces of FacebookThe world has been aghast lately at the revelation of Facebook’s creepy social experiment. Sure, it’s weird at best and borderline unethical, but it got me thinking: what if we took a cue here and did some experimenting of our own? Can something good come of this?

Smile More

In the past few months I’ve been making the conscious effort to smile more at others. I travel on business regularly, so I’m constantly in front of zillions of service or travel industry workers, whom I’ve been smiling at more so lately just to see what happens: simple grins and a little eye contact for everyone — not weird, extended fake smiles — just friendly, quick expressions at a drive-thru, coffee counter or lunch table.

And you know what? I’ve seen more smiles as a result. So what if it’s a conscious effort on my part? It’s simple enough and is a basically effortless way to give & receive some positivity.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about my informal experiment, but it’s interesting to me that I’ve been doing some content altering of my own here lately and have gotten some useful qualitative feedback, especially in light of the latest Facebook debacle. Here are some more non-scientific but interesting examples:

Making people smile on the London underground

What about you? Ever changed up your routine or made a conscious effort to see how a certain behavior makes an impression on others? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Tweet Composition 101

Browsing some of my favorite tweets recently, I came across this and thought it too funny not to share:

I sometimes mark tweets as favorites as a reminder to myself to check something out at another time, to note something that might be a good retweet later on, or as in this case, just something funny for sharing somewhere.

What do you think? Are you active on Twitter? What is your favorite social media network (besides blogs, obviously)? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Fomer NSA Director Interview via Amtrak. Thanks, Twitter.

Train conversation further cements Twitter as a social media/mass media, real-time, citizen-journalism news outlet.

Tom Matzzie and Michael HaydenAmtrak passenger Tom Matzzie live-tweeted an on-background interview between news media and former NSA director Michael Hayden (also ex-CIA director) from a commuter train known as the ACELA. It was fascinating to watch this play out, minute by minute on Matzzie’s Twitter feed, and later by traditional media. As this was happening, Hayden was alerted by his team, approached Matzzie offering to chat, and even posed for a photo.

The entire episode is now secured for the ages in the form of tweets and the ensuing news coverage.

The Rest of The Story: Cocktails?

Here’s more from Matzzie, himself, by phone, via Soundcloud, speculating as to why the former official may have been so candid:


It’s particularly mind-blowing that the former head of an organization whose focus is security would be so loud on a train, but hey, Hayden is, in fact, now a public speaker — even if, in this case, inadvertently.

What do you think? Have you ever followed a live tweeting of news in real-time? Have you ever been a citizen journalist, or cited by the media for your social media activities? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Christie’s CEO Justifies Social Media in 5 Seconds

In an interview with Marketplace, The CEO of auction house, Christie’s, Steven Murphy, put forth one of the best justifications for businesses getting on social media there is. It stood out to me for its utter salience and logic. Here is the exchange:

Marketplace: Christie’s on Twitter? I think the world just exploded.

Murphy: Yes. Well, why not? Our customers are on Twitter. We should be too. Our clients are spending 60 percent of each day online with some screen, so we need to be there too.

Jerry Uelsmann, Untitled, 1969

Who says montages aeren’t profitable? Here’s one offered by Christie’s from my all-time favorite artist, Jerry Uelsmann

Simple as that.

On the surface, a company founded in 1766 wouldn’t seem to be the case study for social media, but if that’s where your customers are — well, that’s a pretty good justification.

Christie’s is also on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook, among others. I think these highly visual networks are the perfect showcase for the treasures coming through Christie’s that much of the public may never have the chance to lay eyes upon. Check out their profiles for a look at some highly compelling art.

Going once, going twice….

What do you think? Do you know of other companies making strong use of social that might not “fit the mold” on the surface? Ever purchased anything at auction (besides eBay)? Let us hear from you in the comments.

PR and Social Media News: Ragan and PR Daily

PR DailyA couple of my favorite sources for news and happenings in both public relations and social media are PR Daily, and Ragan Communications (PR Daily is part of Ragan). I’ve been following both sites for years, have attended a couple of Ragan events, and have even been quoted as a source in their reporting. I’ve found their coverage of the news cycle from a PR perspective to be consistently informative and entertaining. Ragan’s daily headlines is one of the few email newsletters I read daily, and in itself, it’s a study in crafting winning headlines with engaging graphics that make readers want to click through to your content.

Stories I’ve enjoyed there recently:

If you’re into PR, social media, – or grammar, online trends, and any of the communication-related other areas they cover – definitely give these sites a visit and consider signing up for the newsletters.

What do you think? Are you a Ragan.com or PR Daily consumer already? Or have you never heard of these sites? Do you have a personal or business interest in PR or social media? Let us hear from you in the comments.