Twitterfeed, HootSuite RSS Feeds, and Blog Posting Schedules

Are there blogs that you read regularly that you find so good that you end up sharing every post on Twitter? Do you hate it when you miss a post from those blogs, and wish that, even when you’re offline, you can promote new posts from those blogs to your followers because you know that each one will be valuable to them?

Twitterfeed and HootSuite offer the ability to take a RSS feed from any site and update it to your Twitter account automatically when new feed items are found.

Pros of Automatic RSS Feed Updating

Aside from missing out on your favorite bloggers’ posts, updating your feed automatically with one of these services allows you to:

  • Have your social networks updated often, even when you’re offline. Great for vacations or for tweeting blog posts from international bloggers who post at odd hours for you, but good hours for their audience!
  • Provide your followers with relevant content that is valuable to them without having to constantly monitor someone’s blog or Twitter account for their latest updates.
  • Support your favorite bloggers and show how much you love their posts, especially by attaching @blogowner to your tweets.

Cons(iderations)

I wouldn’t call these cons, but here are some things to consider when choosing an RSS feed to automatically update to your social networks.

  • Does the blog always post content that is valuable to your followers? If there is occasionally questionable content, you may want to only tweet posts after review and not automatically.
  • How often does the blog post new content? Keep this in mind when setting post frequency so you don’t bombard your readers with 5 posts or more per hour from the same site.
  • If you like to have particular status updates stay at the top of your account for longer periods of time, those could be bumped off by a latest RSS feed update. So if you have your feeds updated every hour, post other status messages at 10 minutes after the hour to stay up for awhile.

Now, let’s take a look at Twitterfeed and HootSuite RSS works.

Twitterfeed

Twitterfeed allows you to setup your favorite RSS feeds to post to Twitter and other social services automatically when new items are added. Simply register an account with Twitterfeed and Create a New RSS Feed to begin.

Step 1

The first step is entering a name and RSS or Atom URL for your feed.

Twitterfeed Step 1
Twitterfeed Feed Setup

If you have multiple Twitter accounts that you will be feeding different RSS items to, it might be a good idea to label them by Twitter account and blog name so you can find them quickly for editing later.

Twitterfeed Dashboard Feed List
Twitterfeed Dashboard Feed List

You can continue on to Step 2 from here, but first you should take a look at configuring some of the Advanced Settings options.

Twitterfeed Step 1 Advanced Settings
Twitterfeed Advanced Settings

Update Frequency

Here is where you can set how often you want Twitterfeed to look for new items from a particular RSS, anywhere from every half hour to every 24 hours, as well as how many items to post at a time. If you are grabbing a feed from a site that updates heavily (like Mashable) you may want to have it check every hour and only do one post at a time, otherwise you might bombard your users with 5 posts at once, which is usually not that lovely).

Post Content

I usually go for title only, as you never know what part of the description is going to be picked up, it is going to get cut off, and it will mean that someone has to edit it when they retweet to remove the excess characters to include the RT @yourusername.

You can also choose your preference of URL shorteners – I leave that at bit.ly so that I can see statistics on how many people click on the posts when I tweet them (a nice indicator on whether the feed is popular with your followers or not).

Twitterfeed Click Statistics
Twitterfeed Click Statistics

Post Sorting

Generally, this setting can be left as pubDate. If the feed does not seem to be updating to your social accounts, you can try to switch it to GUID. Sometimes that gets it to work – there has been one feed (so far) that I have had to use HootSuite RSS to update my accounts with for some reason as neither setting in Twitterfeed worked.

Post Prefix & Suffix

This is text that you can append to the beginning and end of any feed items that is posted to your social accounts. For example, if you have a feed going to Twitter, you can put RT @blogowner at the beginning, or via @blogowner at the end. You could also (if the blog is always on one topic) put hashtags at the end of the tweet, such as #seo.

Keyword Filter

Let’s say that you wanted to setup a feed for Mashable, but your audience is only interested in stories about YouTube. That’s not a problem with the keyword filter – just check the box add YouTube as a keyword – this means that only posts with YouTube are posted to your social accounts.

Step 2

In this step, you setup the social accounts you want new feed items to post to.

Twitter

To select a Twitter account for RSS feed updates to post to, simply use the dropdown for Twitter accounts that you have previously authorized, or use the Authenticate Twitter to connect the feed to the Twitter account by logging into Twitter and using the OAuth system.

Twitterfeed Twitter Account Authentication OAuth
Twitterfeed Twitter Account Authentication OAuth

Next, you can set custom UTM tags. The default settings of for Twitter accounts is twitterfeed and twitter, which will append ?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter to the URL of feed items click on from a Twitterfeed link, and it will show up in Google Analytics as Twitterfeed.

Twitterfeed UTM Tags
Twitterfeed UTM Tags

Learn more about UTM Tags for Google Analytics tracking.

Click on Create Services to save this RSS feed to update your chosen Twitter account. To have it update to additional Twitter accounts, click on Twitter again and follow the same above steps. Once you’re finished, click All Done.

Personal Preference

I usually just post items to Twitter because I prefer using the link attachment features on Facebook due to the fact that you can add a thumbnail and extra details along with the post’s summary, which stands out in the newsfeed and on your profile more prominently than a simple status update.

Facebook Attach Link
Facebook Status Update vs. Attach Link

You can also connect Twitterfeed to update new RSS feed items to Facebook, Ping.FM, Statusnet, and HelloTxt.

HootSuite RSS Feeds

HootSuite is my favorite tool for managing multiple Twitter accounts. You can configure RSS feeds to update your status when new items are added from there as well by going to your menu > Settings > RSS / Atom.

HootSuite RSS Feeds
HootSuite RSS Feed Options

As you can see, there are far less options available for HootSuite RSS feed setup, which depending on your preference and your desire to keep everything in one place, may be a good thing.

To setup a new feed, simply enter the Feed URL, how often to check for new posts (from every hour to every 12 hours), how many posts to tweet at a time, and what text to prepend to the beginning of the tweet (such as the RT @blogowner). There is also a checkbox to “Include some post text…” which I uncheck, again, so that only the title is tweeted to shorten up the usage of characters.

In HootSuite, you can send RSS feed updates to any profiles you are managing through their tool, including multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, Ping.fm, etc. But again, I like to not have the same update going everywhere simultaneously, and I also like to use the more advanced link attachment options, especially with LinkedIn because of the additional visibility of having the thumbnail + extra details that you can add to the update.

LinkedIn Attach Link Display
LinkedIn Attach Link vs. Status Update

Why Blog Post Timing Matters

Bloggers should note that with these types of services that blog post scheduling matters now more than ever. Many people setup their RSS feeds to update their account every hour, therefore your post could be tweeted by influential users who follow you within the hour that you post. This should be taken in consideration, as you would not want to post something at odd hours and have most of your Twitterfeed or HootSuite RSS followers auto update their accounts at a time when less of your targeted audience is likely to be online.

Beyond Blog RSS Feeds

Keep in mind, RSS feeds aren’t limited to blogs. You can use the RSS feeds from your article marketing networks, job feeds from sites such as oDesk, news feeds from CNN, your own Delicious feed, and so on. Any site that has an RSS feed can be used with Twitterfeed and HootSuite RSS!

Update: HootSuite Goes Freemium

As of August 2010, HootSuite has moved from being strictly free to offering free limited plans (up to 5 users with ads) and pro plans. Learn more about HootSuite Freemium Plans.

Your Thoughts on Social Network RSS Feed Updating

Do you use one of the above services, or a different one, to automatically update your Twitter or other social network with the latest posts from your favorite blog (or even your own)? What other benefits do you see from using these services, and what other things do you take into consideration when setting them up?





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Comments

  1. says

    Kristi, I find Twitterfeed to work perfectly fine for my needs. They keep it simple and easy to use (and online!). I’ve actually never used Hootsuite, so I guess I can’t say anything about it yet. Maybe I’ll give it a shot today. How do you like it?
    Aaron just posted Free Blogs

    • says

      HootSuite is simpler, and since I use HootSuite it makes sense to have some feeds in there since I can manage them all in one spot. It has come in handy on a few feeds that for some reason Twitterfeed is just not able to pickup. Twitterfeed gives you more options to configure though, like text before and after the tweet, changing the UTM tags, etc.

    • says

      I’ve only had one tweet that I had to full out delete – it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t something I thought my audience would be interested in. I would really suggest that you folow a blog for awhile or check out their archives before setting them to automatically update. Or use the keyword filter.

  2. says

    I have tried Twitterfeed and it definitely does what it is supposed to do very well, but in my opinion it is better checking out what you will be tweeting, instead of using such programs. It might take more time, but still you can’t always be sure that the content will be worth tweeting.
    Daniel Sharkov just posted SEO Lies – Myths and Truths About SEO

    • says

      I came here to say just that. Unless you are managing a ton of websites, I actually like taking the time to stop and update my Twitter account.

      Need something to do while sipping my morning coffee, right?

      • says

        I’m managing 3 accounts pretty heavily, and have a few floaters that occasionally get some love until I fully figure out what I am doing with them. If I just had one, I’d probably just do manual updates too, but for what I have going, it would be a lot longer than the morning coffee break. :)

  3. says

    I’m OK with auto-tweeting and even auto-posting to Facebook most of the time. While I try to be cautious, I really make an effort not to break a sweat over my Twitter stream. I think the only RSS feed I auto-tweet at the moment happens to be Kikolani, but I do plan on adding a few others.

    I’d caution people to stay away doing that with blogs like mine, LOL as I have been known to crank out the occasional totally left-field post. You’re right that you really have to evaluate whether the content is consistently relevant to your following. Everyone’s followings differ just a little.
    Tia just posted Two Cents Tuesday- Blog Design is a Woman’s Prerogative

    • says

      I appreciate being in your auto-tweet list! :) I agree, some people do post some odd things now and again – so long as the site hasn’t in the past done something absolutely heinous, I usually give it a shot after I find myself tweeting their last 10 articles in a row.

    • says

      You’re welcome! The only thing I wish one of these services would come up with is something that says “check for new posts between 7AM to 10PM” or something similar and start posting then, that way you can control what hours posts are published to your Twitter or other network.

  4. says

    Hi Kristi,

    It sounds like a great idea and I have never done it yet. Your knowledge is amazing and the patience with which you go into the details is remarkable.

    I’m still learning the very basics of Hootsuite and don’t even know all the @blogowner and similar twitter tricks. Is there a place where they are listed?

    Using RSS feed to tweet other peoples blog posts is definitely a great way to help promote them and at the same time give your followers something of value.

    There are several bloggers whose blogs I’d be happy to promote this way when I learn how to do what you describe and when I decide on the frequencies and timing.

    Did you say that the best time to post is between 7 and 10 a.m.?

    One of the best timings for my posts seems to be early morning, I noticed 6 a.m. had pretty good results.

    Vance
    Vance just posted Email List Building Ebook- How To Build Email List In Any Market

    • says

      I wrote a post awhile back on Twitter lingo and tips for new users. It has the mainstay basics of Twitter. I think that time is right, and the best time to post is Tuesday morning, while the worst is Friday afternoon.

    • says

      True… you can’t go overboard though, as people will think your entire Twitter is automated and that there isn’t someone actually behind it all. But some automation can be a good thing!

    • says

      Exactly, I figure if I am going to tweet it regardless, it may as well be automated so I have more time to find new things!

  5. says

    Twitter feed is good but somehow I like the Hootsuite more as it’s interface is nice. My strategy is to create a profile for my sites and on the other hand maintain my personal profile. My Site profile is used as Auto tweeting every post where as my profile is used as Tweeting only selected posts :)
    Harsh Agrawal just posted 15 Blogging Tips for Newbie Bloggers

    • says

      That makes sense. I had a personal profile that I just fully automated for a while, and now am starting to get a little more live with. Even though it has no influence, it is nice that it has the record of 500+ tweets already.

  6. says

    I’ve been using Twitterfeed on and off since it first opened it’s doors. It’s a fantastic service, when used appropriately, but you’ve got to be careful that if you feed everything to Twitter then everything you post goes out – personal moans, professional musings, the lot. Personally I filter my input feeds using Yahoo pipes before then routing the final feed to Twitterfeed. This allows me to filter posts by topic and either exclude them or post to different Twitter accounts (personal and work-related) accordingly.
    Michelle just posted Baby Einstein Exersaucer

    • says

      Ah, another Yahoo pipes user. I just started playing with them, and you can really do some amazing stuff with those and RSS manipulation. I did a little screenshot about compiling multiple RSS feeds so you can have one feed with all of your sites (blogs, articles, etc.) in one..

  7. says

    This could look too spammy if you are following many blogs and autoupdated them through your social networks. It could also be bad for your followers if the blog you are following is not really solid with your niche, he/she may perhaps post new blogs not really related to your targeted audience. Choosing the blog to share with your followers plays an important part :)

    • says

      Very true… that’s why I only put sites in my Twitterfeed that I already regularly tweet all of their articles.

    • says

      I know what you mean… I wrote a review on the many benefits of HootSuite for bloggers that can really be applied to businesses as well. With all of the monitoring capabilities and ways to manage more than one account, it really should be an essential part of every Twitter power user’s toolbox.

    • says

      Definitely, although you have to think about whether you have the same followers throughout several networks – having the exact same update coming through all of them might be redundant for followers on different networks.

  8. says

    Phew! As always luv, a boat-load to digest; here’s another reread for me. lol

    While I have a general rule of never auto’ing anything of this nature, including my own, I can see how this would be useful to some; they’d have to be truly responsible though, not to overload and to pick blogs that they really think every post is good to go sight-unseen…..

    Lets be honest, how many are there?
    Dennis Edell just posted UPDATES-

    • says

      I have several… my rule is that if, after a month, I have tweeted every post by a certain blogger, and I check their archives and don’t see anything fishy, then they are a safe bet. Social Media Examiner, for one, can be a guaranteed win for anyone who tweets to their followers about social media – always great articles there.

  9. says

    Even a month could be a really long time; if someone posts 5 days per week and 3 are crap. lol just an opinion.

    I agree, with many of the larger more well known, you can’t go too wrong. I’m referring mostly to “us”, so to speak. You for one, would ultimately be a safe bet. ;)
    Dennis Edell just posted UPDATES-

  10. says

    I use HootSuite a lot and I love it, although I have not yet used their RSS feature. As for Twitter feed it looks interesting specially if you use feeds from trusted sources (only). I think this is to play it very safe. Aside from that, I do not want to “overshare” my favorite blogs since they might have the same feature and it could show up several times on their stream. I’ll give TwitterFeed a try and see how it goes. Thanks
    DiTesco just posted How To Build A Profitable Online Business

    • says

      It’s all online… the setup itself probably takes about half an hour if you only have a few accounts, and you can always modify things as you go along. Maybe add a new search column every day or something. The sooner you get it, the easier your Twitter management will become!

  11. says

    I’ve been RSS broadcasting a few blogs to my Twitter account(s) via Hootsuite for the past few months and it’s worked really well.

    Question: You say you “like to use the more advanced link attachment options, especially with LinkedIn because of the additional visibility of having the thumbnail + extra details that you can add to the update.”

    Where can I find the more advanced link attachment options in Hootsuite? Updates on Linkedin and Facebook Pages don’t look great at the moment.

    Just added Kikolani to my feeds as well by the way so keep up the good content ;-)
    Jorgen just posted Name Recognition is Your Personal Brand Awareness

  12. says

    Hi Kristie, This post is an eye opener for me but from a different perspective. You see I find it really annoying that many people will tweet posts from Mashable and TechCrunch without giving them any credit in the tweet. Now I see how they are doing it and why there’s no “RT @mashable” or “via @techcruch” in the tweet. With this tip from now on I can avoid clicking links that are from Twitterfeed from certain users (which is what most people are using).

    I know, I’m a sour-puss when it comes to this topic, but here’s my take – If I want to read Mashable I’ll just go to their site. I really don’t need anyone to call my attention to each and every post from them. I even went so far as to call for an “UN-Mashable” day on Twitter. I just wanted one day of not retweeting Mashable! Unfortunately I didn’t get any takers though :)

    Well anyway, knowledge is power and I always leave your blog feeling a great deal stronger.
    Ileane just posted BloggerLuv

    • says

      Kristi, I am popping into your post by way of Gail’s GrowMap article on TwitterFeed. Ileane’s comment brings up a serious Consideration (I love how you put it that way):

      Is it possible that we should be asking folks if they want to be tweeted? Some people, like Tia and Ileane have different reasons mentioned here. I wouldn’t have thought about this, except that, in the process of reciprocating with folks who DO tweet my posts with Twitterfeed, I went ahead and added a slew of other blogs, without regard to quid pro quo. After seeing Ileane’s response, I’m second-guessing myself.

      I suppose that if people see themselves mentioned, they can complain to the original tweeter.

      Cheers,

      Mitch
      Mitchell Allen just posted The Ho-hum Blog Reset of 2011

  13. says

    Hey kristi,

    Wow, you get more comments for one post than I get in a month :)

    I just recently started using Twitterfeed, but like you I only use it for Twitter and not Facebook. Sometimes, it doesn’t jive with my Tweetmeme widget in terms of being included in my tweet count. I’m lucky if I get 8 retweets, so each one counts, lol.
    Jay just posted A HIRT’n Workout

  14. says

    I just love tweeting. Really an awesome social networking site. Your perspective is very excellent. Thanks for put on view this valuable information. I have the benefit of stay.

  15. Mike says

    Great Post, i like these 2 sites, http://twitterfeed.com ask for pubdate or GUID and not allowed to configure my blog rss feed
    But these are nice mentions for blogs of my own to save time posting manually each time on twitter account

  16. says

    TwitterFeed is superior as far as options it offers, but it is just not a reliable service. I have found that the service fails to post feed items way too many times. E.g. instead of posting updates one every 6 hours, it does it every 24 hours. Hootsuite, while a great service, and I am a premium member, simply does not offer the level of customer support I expected. http://www.socialoomph.com/ used to work great for me but I stopped using it since I became a Hootsuite user quite a while ago.
    Panah just posted 3 Cool Twitter Magazine Apps for iPad

  17. says

    Nice comparison! I use HootSuite because of its easy navigation and user friendly interface, it is likely that the tool is also popular because of the range of access that it allows the user to have in comparison to other tools available. Even upon first use, it is clear that this tool is not at all as confusing as other twitter tools available.
    Marks just posted Small Business Plan and Advice

  18. says

    Nice Kristi !!
    This is compulsory to share your post to with your twitter follower it not just increase the visitors but also popularity, i really thanks to Kristi to share such a nice post, generally people never consider this fact but it is practically true.
    Thanks !!



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