If you have an active WordPress blog then you also probably have an associated Twitter account, and often times folks must manually link the new blog post URL to a twitter post. While the manual procedure is not that big a deal, it does take a few minutes to complete, so why not have an application that automatically sends the WordPress blog post to your Twitter account, which then posts a tiny URL and a short message to all your Twitter followers? This tutorial will cover installing and configuring the WordTwit plugin into your WordPress installation so you can get your automatic tweets processing with each new blog post.

The WordTwit plugin

WordTwit is a free WordPress plugin that uses the Twitter API to automatically push published posts to your Twitter account as a tweet, and is configurable with a hash. You can install the WordTwit plugin from within your WordPress dashboard, select the Plugins page and allow WordPress to install the plugin automatically, or you can manually download and install the plugin from the WordTwit plugins page. I will review the automatic installation, which is the easier method.

  1. From the WordPress Dashboard go to the Plugins page, then click “Add New” as shown in Figure B from one of my WordPress installations.
  2. The Install Plugins page opens; in the Search input field, type in WordTwit and then click Search Plugins, as shown in Figure C:

    WordTwit will display as the first available plugin from the search list result as shown in Figure D. The plugin Name, Version, Rating, and Descriptions will appear for each plugin; this information is helpful especially when you are looking for a new plugin to add to your WordPress installation.

  3. Click Install Now as shown in Figure D, then click OK in response to the “Are you sure you want to install this plugin” dialog box.
    Once the Plugin is installed you will see the message as shown in Figure E:
  4. Next we need to activate the plugin by clicking the Activate Plugin link as shown in Figure E above, and once activated, you will be taken to the Plugins page where you will see the list of installed plugins. The activated plugin is shown in Figure F. You can manually edit the WordTwit  plugin from the Edit link, but we will not use this option in this demonstration.
  5. We now need to establish the Twitter account connection, which also requires that we create a Twitter application using the custom Twitter API to configure the account to accept the plugin requests in order to post tweets. Next, we will configure the WordTwit plugin by navigating from the left side bar and clicking on the Accounts button, which will take you to the Twitter Accounts page of the WordTwit Plugin as shown in Figure G:
  6. Next, click on the Configure on Twitter Now link which is displayed in Figure G. This will take you to the Twitter Developers page for your account. If you are not logged into your Twitter account already, you will need to log in with your Twitter username and password. Once in, you will see the list of applications under My Applications along with the “Create a new application” button as shown in Figure H
  7. The Create A New Application page will open, and you will need to enter the following information to establish the settings so that the application will make the connection to your WordPress blog. The Application Details form main fields are displayed below in Figure I
    • Name (required) – Give your application any name that you will recognize; typically, you can just give the same name as your blog title. Your application name is used to attribute the source of a tweet and in user-facing authorization screens. 32 characters max.
    • Description (required) – Your application description, which will be shown in user-facing authorization screens. Between 10 and 200 characters max.
    • Website (required) – Your application’s publicly accessible home page URL, where users can go to download, make use of, or find out more information about your application. This fully-qualified URL is used in the source attribution for tweets created by your application and will be shown in user-facing authorization screens. (If you don’t have a URL yet, just put a placeholder here but remember to change it later.)
    • Callback URL – Where should the Twitter application return after successfully authenticating? For @Anywhere applications, only the domain specified in the callback will be used. OAuth 1.0a applications should explicitly specify their oauth_callback URL on the request token step, regardless of the value given here. To restrict your application from using callbacks, leave this field blank.
  8. Next, you will need to read and then agree to the “Developers Rules of the Road” which cover Twitter content, Principles, Twitter Functionality in your Service, Commercial Use, and Other Legal Terms. Check the box for “Yes, I agree”, and then fill in the CAPTCHA question to test that you are an actual human and not a spam submission, which uses a combination of characters and image for content. Click the button “Create your Twitter application” where you will be taken to your application page once it has been created, as shown in Figure J with the default Details tab displayed. I’ve smudged certain details of this application for privacy and security.
  9. Next we will go to the Settings tab to configure the Twitter application and select the radio button to Read and Write under the Application Type and Access section. Check the box for “Allow this application to be used to Sign in with Twitter”, then click the button “Update this Twitter application’s settings”, as shown in the modified screen capture in Figure K:
  10. Next, we will add your application’s credentials to WordTwit, taking the information from the Twitter Applications page Details tab. You will need to copy the Consumer Key and Consumer Secret and paste into the associated fields in the WordTwit configuration settings Options tab under the Twitter OAuth Credentials section as shown in Figure L:

    Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.
  11. Click on the Accounts button from the WordTwit section on the left sidebar and on the Accounts page, click the Add Account button. You are then redirected to the Twitter API authorization page; click the Authorize App button as shown in Figure M. Some names and URLs have been smudged out for privacy and security purposes.

    Once the Twitter application has been authorized, you will be taken back to your WordPress instance and your Twitter account should appear in the list as shown in Figure N. Your account screen name, type, followers, updates, and publish order will be displayed.

  12. When you create a new blog post you should now see the WordTwit plugin located on your right sidebar with an auto-generated tiny URL; you can also edit the auto draft settings, add hash tags, and schedule the tweet to publish from 1 to 5 times and with a delay from 0 to 60 minutes and from 1 t o12 hours as shown in Figure O:
  13. Once you create and publish your WordPress blog post, the WordTwit plugin will update with the published information including the mode, the actual tweet along with the tiny URL, the word count, and a link to Tweet Log. Browse to your Twitter account to verify that the tweet has posted to your Twitter account page. The demo confirmation from WordTwit is displayed in Figure P.

You can also dive deeper into the WordTwit plugin and configure your settings to a default message in addition to the title and tiny URL. You can set all tweets to be scheduled or delayed, or to be tweeted multiple times. Other optional settings include:

  • resolving custom short URLs from WordTwit 2.x, a previous version (this is helpful if you have upgraded from the earlier plugin version)
  • disabling warning message when retweeting from the post widget
  • adding UTM tracking tags to Tweeted URLs (requires a third party URL shortening tool other than WordPress).