When I began writing my new book, I knew I wanted to build an audience early, even a couple of years before the book came out. So I launched into social media hot and heavy. Knowing that it would be a pain to keep track of relevant Twitterers as well as maintain my own feed, I opted to organize my Twitter efforts on HootSuite. I considered TweetDeck, but I found HootSuite to be more visually appealing and flexible.
HootSuite and TweetDeck have one major problem, however. You can’t use them to follow RSS feeds. Sure, you can feed RSS feeds into your Twitter profile, but HootSuite limits you to two feeds, and I didn’t want to bombard my followers with feeds they weren’t interested in. I just wanted a way to follow my various feeds on HootSuite. After much web searching, I realized there was no easy way to do this. The closest I came was this site, which was quite helpful, but the strategy outlined there doesn’t allow you to follow multiple RSS feeds in multiple columns on HootSuite. It just allows you to dump all of your RSS feeds into a single column.
So, using that site as a guide, I’ve created instructions on how to follow as many RSS feeds as you want in as many columns as you want on HootSuite. This strategy also works for TweetDeck. There are a lot of steps here, and a lot of accounts to set up, but it works beautifully. If you’ve come up with a simpler way to do things, please let me know in the comments section!
1) If you don’t already have a Twitter account, create one. This is your primary Twitter account.
2) Create as many lists in on your Twitter account as you want RSS columns on HootSuite. For me, I wanted one HootSuite column that would track my RSS feeds from articles related to cat and dog legal cases and another column that would track my RSS feeds from articles related to cat and dog personhood. So I created two lists on my Twitter account:
I made these lists public in case anyone wants to follow them (hey, you can never have enough Twitter followers!)
3) Create as many new Twitter accounts as you created lists above. These are now your secondary Twitter accounts. Your lists will follow these accounts (the reason will become clear later). For me, I created two secondary Twitter accounts: GrimmPersonhood and and Grimm_Law. The nice thing about these extra accounts is that, when populated with RSS content, they become additional ways to build followers on Twitter.
Create a Google Reader account. This will help you manage all of your RSS feeds. Import all of the RSS feeds you follow into this account. Then, click “Manage Subscriptions” and organize your feeds into as many folders as you created lists in Step 2. For me, I created a “Law” folder and a “Personhood” folder. Under “Folders and Tags”, make both folders public (click the folder boxes and “Change sharing” to “Public”). Then, for each folder: “view public page”, view the source html for this page (in Firefox you can hit CTRL-U, or select ‘View Source’ from the ‘View’ menu on other browsers), search for the word “atom”, and find a URL that looks like this: http://www.google.com/reader/public/atom/user%2F15937456604049518363%2Flabel%2FLaw
Copy that URL into another document (like Word or Notepad) and save for later. Remember to do this for every folder you’ve created.
Now that Google Reader is defunct, you can skip this step and just grab your RSS feeds directly from Google News (http://support.google.com/news/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=59255)
5) Create a Twitterfeed account. This will feed your Google Reader folders into Twitter. Add the two URLs from Step 4 to this account. I set my advanced settings to post up to 5 new updates every 30 minutes. Feed the appropriate URL into the appropriate secondary Twitter account. So for me, the URL for cat and dog law feeds into my Grimm_Law Twitter account, and the URL for cat and dog personhood feeds into the GrimmPersonhood Twitter account.
6) Return to your primary Twitter account. Go into the lists you created in Step 2. Follow the appropriate secondary Twitter account from Step 3 with the appropriate list. So for me, I followed @Grimm_Law with the @David_Grimm/dog-and-cat-law list, and @GrimmPersonhood with the @David_Grimm/dog-and-cat-personhood list. Keep in mind that when you search for your secondary Twitter accounts, it may take a day or two for them to show up. One shortcut is to search for the e-mail addresses associated with these accounts.
7) Create a HootSuite account or a TweetDeck account. Make sure you are signed in with your main Twitter account, not your secondary accounts. On HootSuite, click “Add Stream”, “Twitter”, “Lists”. You’ll see all the lists you created in Step 2. Click one of your lists and “Create Stream”. Repeat this process for all of your lists. On TweetDeck, click “Add Column”, “Groups/Lists”, select your list.
Bingo! Now all of your RSS feeds appear as columns on either HootSuite or TweetDeck.