Twitter 132: Creating a Twitter Search Widget

[ratings]

In Thesis 33, I invited those interested in helping to spread the word about the #wristpain Twitter chat to

  1. retweet this: @mayoclinic: Know anyone with mystery #wristpain? Discuss a common cause Thurs on Twitter w/@RABergerMD http://bit.ly/dBlMH
  2. post to their Facebook and/or (if you’re really motivated)
  3. embed a Twitter search widget in your blog in a post on in the blog’s sidebar.

So I thought it would be good to give a step-by-step course on how to set up a Twitter search widget.

Note: This is one of the things you can’t do in WordPress.com, because the javascript is not allowed on WordPress.com blogs. You need to be using a self-hosted (WordPress.org) version, or a platform like Blogger or Typepad. One of the few downsides of the free WordPress.com platform.

So, here’s the step-by-step:

1. Go to the Twitter Search Widget page. You will see a screen like this (click any of the images to enlarge):

OMGsearch

2. Since you don’t really want to display all of the Tweets using “OMG” in their body, you need to change the title and search criteria. Here’s what I did for my widget about the #wristpain Twitter chat:

Berger chat

3. You can adjust appearance and other settings if you want, but all you really need to do at this point is click the “Finish & Grab Code” button, highlight the code by clicking on it, and copy it to your clipboard.

Finish grab code

4. Go to your self-hosted WordPress blog (the process is similar for Blogger or Typepad) and either create a text widget for the sidebar, or a new post into which you want to insert your widget.

If you are doing a new post, be sure to switch from Visual to HTML view before you paste in your code:

HTML not Visual


8 Steps to Sustainable Blogging

Note: This is a piece I contributed to a social media guide published by the Texas Hospital Association. It’s really very well done (the overall guide, I mean. You’ll need to be the judge on this particular article.) If you’d like to get a copy of the complete guide, which includes contributions from @EdBennett@ChrisBoyer@Billfer@DaphneLeigh and @JennTex, @reedsmith of the THA has them available for sale. You can order one or see the table of contents here. But meanwhile, here’s my contribution:

Many people are intimidated by the thought of starting a blog. Some of this angst results from misunderstandings: they think a blog is some mysterious creation, when in reality it is an easy-to-publish Web site that allows comments. But some of the trepidation results from a true understanding: starting a blog means you need to regularly update it to keep the content fresh.

The purpose of this article is to provide tips for developing a sustainable blog, not in the ecological sense (though the so-called “carbon footprint” of a blog is toddler-sized), but from the “How can I start small and give the blog a strong path to growth?” perspective. Here are a few tips:

  1. Start with a hosted blogging platform. I used http://wordpress.com and highly recommend it. You can get started for free, and for less than $80 a year you can have a blog with the same look as your main Web site that can host a podcast and that is mapped to a subdomain of your main site. But that’s the next step.
  2. Choose your URL and map to it. I mapped my personal blog to http://social-media-university-global.org/ and with my work we have blogs at http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/ and http://newsblog.mayoclinic.org/ and http://podcasts.mayoclinic.org/, for instance. By doing this, instead of the default yourname.wordpress.com URL, you preserve your blog’s ability to grow and move later to a self-hosted WordPress installation without having your incoming links break. That preserves your precious Google juice.
  3. Use video. I use and like the Flip video camera, which costs about $150 for standard definition and $230 or so for HD. Other cameras are available at similar prices. Particularly if you have busy subject experts you want to include in the blog, you’ll have much more success if you can embed video instead of asking them to write. And if they ask you to write for them, that will make your blog inauthentic. Being able to upload video quickly via a built-in USB connector makes it easier for everyone.
  4. Use lots of “tags.” Tags are labels you apply to your posts, which are your way of telling search engines what the post is about. This makes it easier for people looking for your information to find it.
  5. Use descriptive titles or headlines. In WordPress, your headline becomes part of the URL, which has search engine implications. So a cute, human-oriented headline may be less helpful from an SEO perspective. A way around this is to edit the URL for search, but still have the clever play on words in the title.
  6. Schedule posts in advance. You can take a vacation from blogging by using this feature in WordPress, which enables you to set a day and time when you want the post to be published. So you can work ahead and then take off on vacation, knowing that the content will stay fresh even while you personally refresh.
  7. Decide whether comment moderation is necessary. Akismet does a great job in WordPress of weeding out spam comments. If you don’t require comment moderation, your readers will have more immediate gratification for sharing their thoughts, and it will be less work for you.
  8. Use multiple contributors. WordPress and some other blog publishing platforms offer hierarchies and workflows, so you can share the publishing load among many users. Contributors can write, but posts must be edited and approved by, well…an editor. Authors can write and publish on their own. Administrators can add other users. Multiple contributors also helps with that vacation we talked about in #6.

Blogging 123: Customizing Your WordPress Profile

When you create your username in WordPress or WordPress.com, it has to be all lowercase letters (or numbers) with no spaces. That doesn’t look very professional when you username is associated with a post or a comment on your blog or someone else’s. 

Fortunately, you can customize how you want your name to appear on WordPress (or WordPress.com) blogs, and the screencast below shows you how. It also shows you the process for uploading a photo (or Gravatar) to also be connected to your WordPress comments (or posts, if your WordPress theme includes Gravatars on posts.)

There are several other customization options to which I briefly allude in this screencast, but the two I’ve listed are the most important, in my opinion.

Update: You can view the screencast in the SMUG group in Facebook.

Blogging 363: Embed Facebook Videos in WordPress

Here’s another advantage of self-hosted WordPress over WordPress.com, particularly as Facebook has extended the functionality of its video player.

For each video you have uploaded to Facebook, you have an option to embed it in your blog.

picture-4

When you click Embed this Video, you see a window pop up like this:

picture-51

And then, when you’ve copied the code, you can just paste it into your WordPress blog post in the HTML editor,

picture-8

so it looks like this:

picture-7

Which is what I did below, and you see the results. I had not indicated any privacy protections on this video, so you should be able to see it. Please let me know if you can’t.

This is an Aase family classic, in which I discuss the ins and outs of our birdhouse project with my firstborn son. Jake demonstrates exceptional bravery in completing the conversation even after receiving a grave injury.

Blogging 116: Writing a WordPress Blog Post

When writing a blog post in WordPress, as I will demonstrate in the video screencast that accompanies this course in the Blogging curriculum at SMUG, you can format your text in many ways, similar to what you do in Microsoft Word. And the toolbar is much like what you are familiar with in Word.

You can make text bold, or italic (or you can even strikethrough, which is what you should do when correcting an error in your posts after they have been published, so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to rewrite history and avoid ‘fessing up to your mistakes.)

You can have

  • Bulleted
  • Otherwise known as
  • Unordered lists

Or your lists can be numbered, with the

  1. First point
  2. Second point
  3. And so on.

Continue reading “Blogging 116: Writing a WordPress Blog Post”