How To Create Your Own Twitter Bot, Part 2 (No Programming Required): Auto Tweeting Images

On our last How To Create Your Own Twitter Bot post, I stepped you through the basics of setting up a Bot to auto-tweet using twitter feed and Bing News’ RSS features.

How to Use Google News’ RSS Feeds

google news

Since many of my friends are big fans of Google, and would probably prefer not to use Bing’s service, I thought it would make sense to show how you can use Google News‘ RSS features.

Unfortunately Google News doesn’t work like Bing — there is no simple RSS button that you can grab the feed link. However, you can manually edit the below to include your search term:

https://news.google.com/news/feeds?q=“Kanye West”&output=rss

(For this post, I’m continuing to build out the Twitter Bot I started in my last post, @FakeKayneWest. Naturally you would want to replace “Kanye West” with your search term.)

How to Add Images to Your Bot’s Twitter Stream

Images are incredibly important on Twitter. They’re now showing automatically in user’s timelines, and most people agree that tweets with photos are much more likely to be viewed and clicked on.

onagio image

1.  The first thing you need is a source of images that has a RSS feed. Personally I prefer Flickr. Like Google News, they don’t have a simple way on their website to grab a RSS link of a particular search term.

But, looking through the Flickr RSS documentation, you can create one that will work:

http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?tags=Kanye&format=rss_200

Here is where it gets a bit more complicated. You can’t simply take your RSS link from above and put it back into twitter feed. I’m not sure why, but this just doesn’t work.

But don’t worry, there is a work-around, and it’s pretty cool and will do some other interesting things for your Bot.

ifttt tumblr

2. You’re going to use two great web apps: Tumblr and IFTTT:

Tumblr “lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be.” You are going to be creating an auto-populated blog of images for your Twitter bot. (See Onagio’s site as an example.)

IFTTT is “a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: if this, then that” and you are going to use IFTTT to take the feed from Flickr and push it into Tumblr to auto create your blog posts.

Let’s start with Tumblr. Of course you need to create an account, which is somewhat similar to creating one on Twitter. (You should be able to re-use almost everything you thought up before.) And before you know it, you should have a new Tumblr (as the kids call it) under a URL like http://fakekaynewest.tumblr.com/.

Now, create your IFTTT account, and then while logged into Tumblr, select Channels off the top IFTTT menu. You now need to authenticate both the Tumblr and Twitter channels by clicking on their respective icons.

if this then that

Here comes the fun part: creating recipes:

a) Select “Create” on the top menu, the “this” is a RSS feed from Flickr that we created above. (Use the “new feed item” option.) The “that” is your Tumblr blog. (Use the option to “create a new photo post”.) Once you hit “create action” it will be looking every 15 minutes on Flickr for a photo and posting it to your blog.

b) Create your next trigger to send your photo blog from Tumblr to Twitter. The “this” is Tumblr and use “new photo post”. The “that” is Twitter and use “post a tweet with an image”. Now every 15 minutes IFTTT will look at Tumblr and create a tweet if there is a new photo entry.

It might take a bit to start running, so go get a cup of coffee, relax and eventually your Twitter Bot will be doing this over and over again:

Next Steps

This post is getting a bit long, so I’m going to stop here and write some follow-ups to it. Future posts will cover:

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