Blogging and WordPress do a lot of great things together. Search engines love the code and regularly updated content, writters find it easy to publish their content and sites are relatively easy to navigate and find what you want. In the web world, that is a pretty strong formula for success.
However, there is one plaguing problem in blogging platforms and structure that frustrates the hell out of bloggers over time.
We spend all of this time putting together articles that are meant to inform, entertain and help people only to find that a year later they are buried in the archives for no one to find. With regularly updated content, our timeless content continues to be pushed down the line making it harder to find by new readers and search engines alike. The easy fix is to remember these articles and link to them within new relevant articles, but how can we start to easily leverage social media to get those same articles in front of the eyes of our followers?
I started searching around to find a tool to do this for me as I do not want to be spending hours of my day scheduling these posts (I have better things to do that generate more income). After looking at the features of several different options, I landed on one that had what I needed and started the testing process.
WordPress Plugin: Tweet Old Post
First, let me start by saying I typically do not like automated systems. They tend to be very impersonal and everyone knows when you are using one even if you think they do not. If something is going to be automated, it needs to be highly configurable and able to integrate into more personal atmospheres easily by providing value.
I uploaded Tweet Old Post to my WordPress install of Blogging Labs and started the configuration process. Luckily, this free plugin allows you to do several essential tasks that make it usable for me in this application.
Timing of Old Post Tweets
You can set the random times that tweets go out to your followers. Part of the reason that Twitter is the perfect testing ground for a system like this is because the timeline moves quick enough that you will not be annoying people and it has a viral aspect to it that you hope your articles start to get retweeted. If you do it too often, people will ignore your links and unfollow you, so setting a random time for these tweets to hit your timeline hours apart does wonders for not looking like spam.
One of the biggest things I needed in a plugin such as this one was the ability to exclude entire categories from being tweeted out. Information that was tweeted from my archives needed to be timeless to still be relevant. I did not want old articles that are no longer applicable to today’s environment to get tweeted out because that would look terrible as it has zero value to my followers.
By being able to exclude categories, I can remove blocks of archives that should not be tweeted, or I do not feel provide enough value to my timeline. As you can see from my excluded lists, I tried to keep any articles from my archives to blogging tips, tutorials and advice.
Exclude Specific Posts
To fine tune the process even further, there were posts that I didn’t necessarily want retweeted within those categories as well for one reason or another.
Tweet Old Post allows you to also omit specific articles from being sent out to your followers automatically. Another great feature that I needed to insure the quality of the tweets would be at their highest.
After you have everything setup, an automated tweet ends up looking like this on your timeline.
A Couple Of Things To Keep In Mind…
Before you jump in headfirst and never look back, keep these couple of things in mind.
- If you are going to set something like this up, you need to have some archives to pull from. As you can see, I really fine tuned my process, but if that came down to a dozen or so post by the time I was done, I would be sending out a very small number of articles over and over again. Talk about annoying for anyone that is following you.
- You also need to gauge reactions within your Twitter following to see how people are taking the automation. In my @robbsutton account, the change was actually taken in very well and I am now getting traffic and RT’s into my older content…which was the goal. I even started asking around to followers to see what they thought and the overall reaction was positive.
- I do not think this kind of automation would work with Facebook. The timeline does not move fast enough to keep you from clogging the system and in the end you would end up annoying friends and family at the same time. Saying that…if you have your Facebook account linked to your Twitter account so when you send out a tweet it updates your Facebook page, I would break that link before you start testing this out.
Overall, I have been happy with the result as I am always looking for ways to bring people to content that has been buried down over time. There are not very many efficient ways to get this accomplished, but Tweet Old Post seems to do a really good job by leveraging the fast moving timeline of Twitter. It’s highly configurable backend is the only reason I believe you can really make an automated system like this work.
But…just remember…you need to actually converse with your Twitter followers as well and RT other content. Your entire timeline can not be just automated tweets of your own content if you want to be successful with that online medium.