Friday, October 30, 2015

Building Twitter Lists with IFTTT

Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal. ~ Lionel Trilling

Of course, I lost the name of the blogger or Tweep that posted this idea. If I find it (or, if you find me first) - I'll update this post. 

The idea: Use an IFTTT (If This, Then That) recipe to populate a list in Twitter.  

If you have setup a Twitter list and have enabled IFTTT to connect to Twitter, here are the instructions: 

  • Click Create New Recipe Button 
  • Click "This"
  • Search "Channel" for Twitter and click (graphic is above) 
  • Click the "New Tweet from Search" 
  • Enter your search term - a specific #hashtag for example (graphic below) 
  • Enter your Twitter list name
  • Save the recipe (and then wait a few minutes for it to run)  

First Try - List Name Failure 

I tried to point the Recipe to an existing list in Twitter. This didn't work. A new list, duplicating the name of an existing list, was created. I'm sure Twitter has some data element other than "List Name" that they use in the background to keep lists with similar names separate.  

Resolution: I created a new list (EDTECH2) in Twitter and edited the IFTTT recipe to point to the new list. 

Getting Complicated - Complex Query - Fail

It took about 5 minutes for the job to run and for results to show up in Twitter. After I confirmed that the first recipe as working, I tried to get fancy. I tried to set the search criteria as "#EDTECH" or "#MOOC" or "#GoOpen". The logic seemed correct, but the process was not adding results to the list. 

Resolution: One recipe per hashtag. Or, spend some time learning Twitter query structure.  

Best Tips

  • Build: Create a very simple recipe and let it run. 
  • Validate: Check the results - not just that you are adding members to the list, but that the results are appropriate. IS your hashtag too narrow, or too wide? 
  • Improve: Add a second recipe and point it to the same list. After the first #EDTECH hashtag was validated, I added two more. 
  • Scale: The Twitter list EDTECH2 started yielding results - growing from 0 to 95 members in about 30 minutes. I reviewed the list to see if any other hashtags were common. Yes, #EdChat was common. So I went back to IFTTT and added another recipe. 
  • Read and Cleanse: After the list populates, scan the Twitter feed. Some Tweeps will show up only once, others may show up too many times. You can manage your lists to keep your list lean, mean, and on topic. (Open the list of members and use the gear icon to reach the menu.)  

Interesting Observations - Librarians & Texans

I have my own list of Librarians and follow a couple others. Hey, I have a BA History, so I have serious respect for Librarians. But Librarians don't seem to congregate around any particular hashtag. So this strategy needs a bit more work to help discover where librarians are Tweeting. I probably can't use this technique to add to my "Texas" list, since there is no clear Hashtag to identify people that live in Texas. 

I created the list EDTECH by hand over several weeks.
EDTECH2 is automated, 179 members in 4 hours!

Again, I'm still looking for the source for this idea. Mea Culpa.  


No comments:

Post a Comment