I love Twitter as a platform, though I occasionally despise the way that people use it. Still, I find it a fascinating and genuinely useful platform and have been evangelising to my social media students on its uses recently.
Let me count the ways: As a means to source opinion, quotes and contacts; as a platform from which to broadcast; as a much better replacement for RSS readers; as an unparalleled and unprecedented forum for following news and events live (more quickly, even, that 24-hour news channels); as a jumping-off point for all sorts of ideas for blog posts and articles.
Twitter is pretty open about sharing and its API allows for all sorts of uses – as a result there’s loads of functionality – embedding tweets has been quickly taken up by all sorts of news sites. I’ve previously used Hootsuite to embed searches, but Twitter also allows users to create a widget for particular phrases.
I couldn’t remember how to do it today, so thought I’d look it up. Here’s a Twitter search for #edballs using Twitter’s proprietary widget (goto Settings>Widget>Creat New Widget on Twitter for all of the following stuff), followed by the Hootsuite widget:
Embarrassingly, the Twitter widget doesn’t work and the Hootsuite widget does. Moreover the Hootsuite widget is easy to create and the app even gives you prompts to save your searches as a stream. So, while I take my hat off to Twitter for allowing people to use data in this way, the Twitter client is far more user-friendly.
Browser software? Flash issues? Incorrect mark-up? Who cares? It doesn’t work. And who can be bothered to figure out why something isn’t working in these impatient interweb days? Not I. The moral? Use Hootsuite.
Ed Balls’ Twitter timeline? No problem. Plenty of applications for embedding live timelines from specific accounts.
What about Ed Balls’ Favourites? Frankly I can’t think of any reason anyone would want to do such a thing, at least in this case. However, what if you run a celebrity gossip, music or fashion website or blog? Chances are you might want to embed a list of a particular A-lister’s favourite tweets.
Say you want to tailor a specific collection of tweets that you have curated yourself? One this this guy, another from that lady. A few from yourself, perhaps with some media to curate a story. No problem – Twitter allows you to create collections through another third-party client, Tweetdeck, and then create a widget of that collection and whack it into your CMS. Or use Storify. Here’s some reactions to Ed Balls Day that made me laugh.
Anyway, why this search term? Well, I don’t think I’ve laughed quite so much at a tweet as the one below, released into the Twittersphere by the Shadow Chancellor today. Epic.
— Ed Balls (@edballsmp) April 28, 2011
EDIT: Twitter sorted out its search embeds and stopped third parties offering this sort of hack. So now the Hootsuite one doesn’t work and the Twitter one does. I updated this post to reflect added functionality.