The 10 best ways to add a little Twitter to your site

As the social media toolbox grows, the challenge of integrating various and sundry friend feeds and twitter feeds and blog this and updates that with your total Web presence is becoming a major tactical and strategic puzzle. In particular, wholesale adoption of Web 2.0 marketing and communications threatens the traditional entire hub-and-spoke strategy built on a central Web site.

Aside from a strategic and tactical challenge, it’s a pretty impressive technological challenge, as well. One can safely assume that as the tools for integrating social network updates and feeds into a central Web site become more widely available, pre-installed, and easy-to-use, surmounting the other strategic and tactical obstacles will naturally fall in place.

So, with the recent rollout of Tweetboard, we’re offering a short little guide to help you technologically integrate your Twitter account (and followers) with your Web site.


Full-featured Twitter feed and comment board

Tweetboard is currently in alpha release. We here at Shoestring Venture got an alpha invite (nothing impressive, all you have to do is send them a request on Twitter and within a few minutes, you’ll get an invite) and have tested the program. Simply put, Tweetboard converts your Twitter stream into a threaded Web discussion on any Web page you choose.

But what separates Tweetboard from other Twitter integrators is that it allows users to participate in the Twitter stream right there on your Web page. Users can submit their own tweets or respond to current tweets (Tweetboard offers unlimited nesting) without having to travel over to the Twitter Web site. And — get this — whenever you or another person adds a tweet to your stream through your Web site, Tweetboard automatically adds to the tweet a URL directing users back to your site, thus turning your Twitter feed into an incoming link machine.

Finally, Tweetboard more or less works in real time (more less than more) and utilizes Ajax to dynamically update the Twitter feed. Unfortunately, the only configuration available involves a separate window layered on top of your Web site with a Website-design busting tab sitting on the left side of your Web pages. This tab simply announces the number of tweets since your last visit (as in, “94 tweets since your last visit”) which is bound to confuse more than a handful of your users. To actually view the thread, users must click the tab and the whole thread comes sliding over from the left to fill about a third of the average browser window. We, of course, are waiting eagerly for the ability to integrate tweets directly on to the page.


Leave no doubt about it: Tweetboard is currently the most feature-rich, easy-to-use Twitter-site integrator on the market.

If, on the other hand, your integration goals are more modest and you’re just looking to integrate your tweets to your site without enabling feedback (in other words, you’re using Twitter as something closer to a direct marketing tool that flows in only one direction), Tweetboard is probably a bit too much. In those cases, you can use a free online service such as AddTweets or get down and dirty with your site by inserting a bit of code and getting down and dirty with your CSS files, such as Remy Sharp’s “Twitter.js.”


The Twitter Widgets
Flash and HTML Twitter feeds

The Twitter Widgets
Well, gosh-and-golly, wouldn’t you know it, Twitter has both a Flash and HTML widget that you (or your developer) can just insert into a Web page’s coding. The Flash version is quite snazzy (and the HTML version is quite drab, leaving room for CSS inventiveness) and as easy to install as any Flash object.

The widget displays your tweets to all and sundry and, like Tweetboard, allows Twitter users to login and add to the Twitter stream. The widget supports nesting and, unlike Tweetboard, has a favorites feature, just like the Twitter site. You can, with some fancy coding of your own, embed your widget in the same kind of pullout that puts the fancy in Tweetboard’s dance. And, of course, you can do a million other things with the widget — pop-ups, placed directly on the page, pull-downs. Whatever you can do with a Flash object or pile of HTML code, you can do with the Twitter widget.

If you need a bit of rudimentary help with the CSS on the HTML widget, Blogger Buster has a useful little tutorial.


Web page Twitter feed and commenting interface

So far, we’ve been talking about integrating much of the functionality of Twitter with your Web site, not really the other way around. There are, in fact, tools for putting Twitter streams on your Web site to follow what people are saying about your Web site and, even better, allow people to create tweets about your Web site and send them to friends.

Although designed primarily for blogs and wikis, Chirrup integrates with any type of Web site. Whenever people send you tweets about your Web site, Chirrup organizes these tweets by page URL and feeds them to the appropriate page (great for blogs and wikis . . . I mean GREAT for blogs and wikis!) Chirrup is, in short, a commenting tool that harnesses the power of people’s Twitter networks. Like Tweetboard and the Twitter widget, Chirrup allows users to not just view comments, but add their own.

Chirrup is a bit of PHP coding that requires PHP and cURL support from your server (every hosting service we recommend in Shoestring Venture: The Startup Bible has curl support).


Web page tweet generator

The most rudimentary way to integrate Twitter into your Web site, blog, or whatever, is to simply offer people the chance to share your site with other people in their Twitter network. Working in much the same way as a DiggThis! or Reddit button, TwitThis is a simple button added to your Web pages, blog posts, or wiki entries that, when people click the button, will broadcast a tweet about your page to their network.

You simply cruise over to their Web site and enter the URL of the page you want to add the button to. Voila, the site spits out some code and you insert it on the page. Yes, you heard me right. Each and every page you want to add a TwitThis button to, you have to custom-generate the HTML on the TwitThis Web page and manually install the code. We do, of course, justifiably expect a simpler, more universal process in the future.


WordPress blog Twitter stream comment search

TweetSuite works even better than Chirrup: it searches out the entire Twitter API to find all tweets from all users that reference a particular page on your blog. It then loads this Twitter comment universe on to the relevant page, so you can display more of the comment universe your blog generates. The application also includes widgets to display the most-tweeted, most recently tweeted, and my favorite tweets to direct people at hot blog posts.


Twitter-blog post integration

Twitter Tools integrates WordPress blogs with Twitter in surprising two-way interactions. While most of the tools listed above either stream Twitter feeds to your site or, in the case of Chirrup and TweetSuite, allow you to integrate all the tweets commenting on your Web site either in your Twitter feed (Chirrup) or the entire Twitter tweetyverse (TweetSuite), Twitter Tools is about making your Twitter posts and blog posts more closely aligned.

  • Twitter Tools allows you to post tweets as blog entries.
  • Broadcast a new tweet whenever you post a new blog entry.
  • Allow users to post tweets from a sidebar.

    Like TweetSuite, you install Twitter Tools just as you would any other WordPress plug-in.


    Twitter feed

    AddTweets is a free online service (well, they do ask for donations, but they’re not obnoxious about it) that posts Tweets to your Web site in real time. You go to their Web site to sign up by giving your Twitter nickname, email address, and how many tweets you want displayed. The info goes chugging into the AddTweets black box and spits out . . . a bit of JavaScript, which you then add to one or more of your pages.

    And what a coding nightmare this might be. You can, of course, make the thing look just like Tweetboard, but that will take a bit of coding heavy lifting. But, unlike Tweetboard, there are an infinite number of placement and design options open to you, as long as you’re willing to do the work (or have someone else do it).


    Twitter Buttons
    Follower button

    Okay, okay, I was wrong in our discussion about TwitThis. The most basic Twitter integration is simply generating followers. This is literally the first-grade of Twitter integration and you’ll be surprised at how many incredibly savvy people don’t do this (including us). There are, quite literally, a million tools and a billion bits of JavaScript that can do this rudimentary task, but the simplest and easiest tool for everyone from coding warriors to coding cowards (i.e., the rest of us) is Twitter Buttons. You simply mosey on over to their site, enter your Twitter account, find the design you like, grab the code, and cut and paste and FTP and all that. Shazam! A “Follow Me” button on your Web page. And that is all I have to say about that.


    Twitter feed

    Tweet! is a small bit of JavaScript/JQuery that displays your Twitter stream on any page you specify. So, yes, you have to install the code and fiddle with more than a little CSS. But it’s a remarkably small and fast-loading application that allows you all kinds of parameters for displaying tweets, including basing the display entirely on search terms.


    Twitter feed

    Finally, a little bit of nifty coding from Remy Sharp, Twitter.js, targetted to the coding slingers out there. This is a very compact, small, and highly functional piece of code. There is no easy way around this one . . . you either know how to install it and make it work or you don’t.

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  • 2 Responses to “The 10 best ways to add a little Twitter to your site”

    1. Dental Jobs says:

      Just adding twitter tools to my new site mediestates its looking good so far and works fine


    1. social media says:

      social media…

      Automate First, set up systems to automate your broadcasts, feeds, updates, content. On Twitter, this could be using Twitterfeed to automatically post your blog feed as tweets. To pre- schedule tweets, use TweetLater and/ or Hootsuite. To update multip…

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