Reviews of various Twitter feed services
July 17, 2013
Do you want a Twitter feed that’s automagically updated whenever certain things on your site are updated? We do! This post is a casual review of some of the Twitter feed services we’ve tried, mostly focusing on the problems we encountered with them. Scroll to the bottom to see the service we recommend: ifttt.com.
Most of these services also work for feeding items to other sites, such as Facebook.
Our usage: each region on the site has an RSS feed that displays location updates.
Example of a region’s RSS feed: http://pinballmap.com/portland/location_machine_xrefs.rss
Example of an update: “Theatre of Magic was added to Barney’s Beanery.” Basically, it’s $machine added to $location (plus a link).
So, we want each one of those updates to be tweeted to a twitter account that’s been set up for that region (if one has been set up), so that people can keep abreast with map updates. Having a service like this a great way to spread info to outside sites.
Twitterfeed is a nice service, however they have strict “anti-spam” measures that conflict with our usage.
Each location on each regional map has a direct url. For example, Beulahland in the Portland region has this url: http://pinballmap.com/portland/?by_location_id=871
To make the twitter items more useful to viewers, we include this link in any updates. “Twilight Zone was added to Beulahland, http://pinballmap.com/portland/?by_location_id=871.” So they can click the link and see the address and other machines that are at the spot.
If another machine gets added to Beulahland, the link in the feed item for that update will be the same: “The Addams Family was added to Beulahland, http://pinballmap.com/portland/?by_location_id=871.”
Twitterfeed.com believes that any feed item that contains the same link as another feed item has a strong potential to be spam. So they have a blanket policy that blocks all subsequent feed items using that link.
On our end this results in the first feed item being posted to Twitter, but not the second. And there wasn’t any way to get around this that fits our usage and RSS format.
Quick background: At the time, we did not have an “rss to twitter” service set up for ALL regions. Only for regions in which we had twitter accounts. So like… there wasn’t a dlvr.it account checking the Sacramento region, because we didn’t have a Sacramento twitter account.
We experienced some bizarre “cross-pollination” when using this service. For instance, a new item on the Los Angeles RSS would show up on the Portland twitter account.
When we opened a ticket with them to check into this, they replied that, “The behavior that you’re seeing is occurring on your servers, not in dlvr.it. When we retrieve the content from your feeds, occasionally the content is mixed up between the feeds. The fact that you’re seeing this behavior across multiple dlvr.it accounts reinforces this conclusion. It’s not possible for content between two feeds to come in contact with each other in the dlvr.it system, since all content is stored and processed separately.”
However, if that was the case, it would seem that cross-pollination would occur between ALL of our regions, regardless of whether we’d set up a dlvr.it account for them. Like, why aren’t Sacramento RSS updates ever mistakenly showing up on the Portland Twitter feed? The only ones cross-posting were for regions in which we had set up dlvr.it accounts. This strongly points to some issue on dlvr.it’s end – such as them not discriminating the /portland/ and /la/ portions of the RSS url strings.
Bye bye, dlvr.it.
Not much to say here, except that it occasionally didn’t post feed items. Basically, it wasn’t reliable. We’ve gone back to it a couple times over the years to see if it changed to be more reliable. But then we gave up on it.
Via Con Dios, Feedburner.
IFTTT – aka If This Then That – is the current darling of the feed world. And…. it works GREAT! No issues, no complaints.
The site uses a very simple, intuitive, and visually-appealing approach to setting up feed services. Users follow a couple simple steps to create a “recipe” for triggering events. Our recipes are like this: IF [update to rss] THEN [post to twitter]. And then you authorize that twitter account to receive those updates. ifttt.com checks the feeds every 15 minutes (this cannot be configured).
Here is an example of one of our recipes: https://ifttt.com/recipes/99776
The @pinballmapcom account currently uses 33 recipes, one for each region.
No spam-filter issues, no cross-pollination, no baloney.
Hope these review were helpful!