Coding is wonderful but not everyone can do it. In an effort to make hacking more accessible to the everyday GLAMmer here is one solution for making a history/culture Twitter bot without coding. The goal of this is to automate tweets with photos of collection items and links back to digital item. If you do it right, it should look something like this @LivingHistUON :


The method I used utilizes free accounts in all the services. Here is how it works

.CSV (spreadsheet) -> Google Calendar -> IFTTT -> Buffer -> Twitter

I would suggest you look into IFTTT and Buffer if you are not familiar with them. IFTTT can be used to ‘hack’ many different services and I think of it as a service that ‘does coding for you’. IFTTT has a really super simple interface. The most difficult part of this is getting the .CSV formatted correctly to import into Twitter. It is a lot of steps but focus on one service at a time and you will get through it. I would estimate if you aren’t familiar with these services that this should take you about two hours the first time.

So, here it goes:

  1. Start with a spreadsheet full of data from one collection. Your collections data needs at least three columns of metadata the title, link to the item and the link to the photo related to the item.
    1. You can add any extra text you want at this stage. For the above example, I used a feature called (CONCATENATE) in Excel to add “by Ralph Snowball” to the title.
    2. Then, combine the columns with the title and link to the item.
    3. For simplicity, keep your collections data in these two columns – “Title” and “Photo URL”.
  2. Format your data for Google Calendar. There are good instructions here:

You need to use the method laid out in “Create or edit a CSV file”. Rename your metadata rows in your spreadsheet, make sure the columns are in this order:

Subject =  Insert a column, unique identifier for each tweet, example Pic 001 (autofill down)

Start Date = Insert a column,  Date of first tweet

Start Time = Insert a column,  Time of first tweet

End Date = Insert a column,  Same as Start Date

End Time = Insert a column,  Five minutes after Start Time

All Day Event = Leave this row out, do not use

Description = Rename existing ‘Title’ column to Description. This is the text that will be tweeted.

Location = Rename existing ‘Photo URL’ column with image URL for what you want to tweet

Private = Leave this row out, do not use

After you have done the above, create a new Google Calendar on an existing account or new account, import the .CSV, and give the calendar a unique name (Twitter bot 1) make the calendar ‘public’.

I would recommend starting out with a list of 10 rows. Once you have the hang of it, you can used this method to queue thousands of Tweets at one time.

  1. Make a new Twitter account for your bot. DO NOT start with an existing account. Creating a new one leaves you room for error.
  2. Make an account in IFTTT. My advice would be to hook it up to your pre-existing Google account.
    1. Make a New Applet
    2. Click on ‘THIS’ – Choose Google Calendar
      1. Pick ‘New event from search added’
        1. Which calendar? (i.e. Twitter Bot 1)
        2. Keyword or phrase? Use ‘Pic’ (remember, I put the word Pic in the first column of my spreadsheet as an identifier)
        3. Click on ‘Create Trigger’
      2. Click on ‘THAT’ – Choose Buffer
        1. At this point it will prompt you to set up a Buffer account, do this and make sure your Buffer account is linked to your newly created Twitter account and that account is chosen
          1. Pick ‘Add photo to Buffer’
          2. Photo URL – Click on Add Ingredient, Choose ‘Where”
          3. Description – Click on Add Ingredient, Choose “Description”
          4. Click on ‘Create Action’
        2. You will end up with a ‘Recipe’ like this:
      3. Once you have this done, log into Buffer and adjust your Tweet schedule
        1. If you have done it correctly, once an event passes in the calendar, you should see a correlating tweet pop up in your Buffer queue. Buffer will then tweet it according to the schedule you have set within Buffer.

Don’t get discouraged if it’s not working the first time around, you might not have your .CSV file quite right. Just start over again from the beginning and you will get it figured out. Comments welcome.


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