hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

March 20, 2008

Twitter sanity via RSS feeds

I know. I know. Hypocritical is getting all dusty from lack of use. I apologize.

But I have excuses.

I've been spending a great deal of my time working on Silicon Florist, a blog about under-the-RADAR startups in Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding areas.

But what about the snark? The venting of my bile that used to occur on hypocritical rather regularly? Well that, gentle reader, has been occurring—for the most part—on Twitter, where I found that I can exorcise my demons in 140 characters or less.

If you haven't tried Twitter yet, I would highly recommend you do.

Which brings me to this post's topic.

I got into a discussion today about "influence" and "attention" on Twitter. And while I don't have good answers to those questions, I do have a decent answer to one little tangential question that was asked, "How do you use RSS feeds to manage Twitter?"

Now, I follow more than 1,000 people on Twitter. So sometimes the information can get a little deep. To help me manage the information flow (and to help you if you're interested), I have three simple ways that I use RSS feeds and a feed reader to make Twitter more manageable—and exceedingly valuable. (For more thoughts on using Twitter, I highly recommend Marshall Kirkpatrick's "Twitter is paying my rent.")

Enough lead in, let's get to it.

You've got a feed reader, right? If not, go get one. Google Reader will suffice. And you've got your Twitter account already, right? And you're following me? Oh wait. That last one is appreciated but not required.

So let's dive in.
  1. Add your Twitter "with_friends" feed to your feed reader. (That's the feed that's available off of http://twitter.com/home when you're logged in.) Why add this feed when this is the stream you see all the time? Trust me. You're going to miss stuff once you start following a few folks. And having a backup is going to help.
  2. Choose a few friends who are "must reads" and add each of them to your feed reader. (This would be the feed from something like http://twitter.com/turoczy.) Once the tweets start flying, you'll find that the person who seemed to dominate your Twitter stream in the early days will suddenly seem practically silent. Cut through the clutter by making sure you've got a trail of his or her tweets.
  3. Use a Twitter search engine to capture feeds of important topics, your username, and common misspellings. I use both Tweetscan and Terraminds (if it ever recovers) for my Twitter searching. Both offer RSS feeds. Pick a term, search for it, and snag the RSS feed. For what do I search? Well, I search for my username, for one. Because unless someone uses your @username at the beginning of a tweet, it's never going to appear in your replies. And, I know this may come as a shock, but some people misspell "Turoczy" from time to time. I know. Crazy. So, I also have feeds on "turcozy," just in case. You can use Twitter's track feature for this, as well. But I find having a feed makes it easier to process this info at my convenience. (Okay, I use track too, but the RSS feed is a good backup.)
So those are my three basic ways to use RSS to help manage your Twitter stream and your sanity.

If you're interested in more advanced techniques, just let me know via comments. I'd be happy to highlight some more.

And I look forward to chatting with you on Twitter.

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Twitter sanity via RSS feeds

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