Category Archives: feedburner

From blog post to Twitter: auto-posting the Feedburner way

You got those blogging blues? All that time and effort penning wonderfully erudite missives and no one can be arsed to show up and read the damn things? Just too many blogs crowding out your place in the sun on the mighty Google? Might be time to start looking for alternative avenues to distribute your content.

Like Twitter.

We have our own success story here at developerWorks – which happily delivers us over 200,000 visitors a month. Not bad for a 140-character investment every now and again. Twitter is many things to many people, and one thing it is to some people is a channel for distributing your content. What’s the easiest way of getting blog posts onto Twitter? There are numerous tools out there that will take up your blog posts as soon as you hit ‘publish’ and wrap them up into a handy Tweet, complete with a link back to your site.

You may know Google’s Feedburner service as an RSS manager, but it has other functions too: like being able to autopost to Twitter.

Setting up Feedburner

Create an account

First step is to login and create an account with Feedburner. Pretty straightforward, especially if you use any other Google service (such as Gmail), as you just enter your existing account.

Get your RSS feed address

Once in, the service will ask you for your feed address (to ‘burn’ the feed). Here on developerworks you can get this by going to the bottom of the homepage and saving the URL for the blog entries:

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If you can’t find your RSS feed, try giving it your blog address: Feedburner may well be able to figure it out your RSS feed address for you.

Add the Twitter service to Feedburner

Follow the steps through to the ‘congrats’ page and at the bottom click directly through to ‘feed management’. Choose the ‘publicize’ tab and select ‘Socialize’:

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Add your Twitter account details and you can tweak the settings if you wish (in most cases the defaults should work just fine). Note that the service uses the goo.gl URL shortener of choice.

Click ‘Activate’ and you are good to go.

So the next time you put out a post:

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You’ll see it show up in Twitter a few minutes later:

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That’s all there is to it.

Although there are reasons why you might not want to automate posting of blog content directly to Twitter. One may be that you want to tailor your message for each audience. What works well as a blog headline may not cut it on Twitter. Still, if you don’t have time to manicure your Twitter presence then it makes good sense to use an autoposter like Feedburner to handle this step for you.

More on the value of the Feedburner service.

Welcome any feedback or questions!

Feedburner: pinging blog aggregators and more

You may be aware of the Google Feedburner service: a great tool to add significant power to your RSS feed. What you may not be aware of are some of the other features Feedburner offers. In this post I’ll explain some of the features we’ve been testing here on developerWorks and on other Lotus Connections blogs.

New clothes for an old feed

A standard RSS feed looks something like this:

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(Firefox display of RSS) 

Pass that same feed through Feedburner and this is what you’ll see:

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Nice, huh? Definitely more user friendly. It’s also more RSS Reader-friendly. IBM blogs serve up secure (https) RSS feeds which don’t play nicely with some RSS Readers, eg. Yahoo Pipes.

Detailed analytics

Now, I’ll be the first to urge you to concentrate on writing blog posts rather than fixating on how many readers you have. But still, there comes a time when it’s necessary to cast a backward glance at how many people are reading your beautifully crafted missives. Now, the display of the number of views per post is a great feature of these blogs, but that number (or any other web analytics you may have hooked up to your site) doesn’t take into account one group of users: those reading RSS feeds. This is where Feedburner comes into its own as it offers some great analytics:

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You can see how many people subscribe to your feed and some basic information on of those subscribers, and how many people are actually reading your posts through a reader. One word of caution: look carefully at your data as you could realize that some of those readers are not human, but bots sniffing out new content.

Ping service

Right, now we’re getting to the meat of the wonderful Feedburner service. If you don’t have a pinging service currently hooked up to your blog that’s notified every time you put out a new post, don’t despair: the Feedburner ping service could come to your aid. I recommend this if you are blogging on the Lotus Connections platform.

What exactly is the issue with not using a pinging service? One big factor is that Google may not figure out your posts are blog content. Whilst this won’t keep you out of their main index, it means your posts won’t show up in a blog search.

If you want to set up a ping service in Feedburner, go Optimize > PingShot. 

Other helpful features

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Feedburner offers a bunch of useful features under the hood but two that I find particularly useful are ‘Email Subscriptions’ (which helps you add ‘subscribe by email’ functionality to your blog) and ‘Socialize’ which allows you send your posts instantly in the direction of social media sites like Twitter.

Setting up Feedburner

This is pretty straightforward, as you’d probably expect. Just head over to Feedburner.com and either create a new account or sign in with an existing Google account. Once in, follow the wizard: all you should need is your blog URL or the URL of your RSS feed.

In Feedburner, the Google team really have created a consummate set of blogging/online publishing tools. So go ahead and give your content a boost with Feedburner.