I seem to be spending more and more time on Twitter. I initially began using Twitter out of curiosity. I had no idea how I could utilize a service that limited my conversation to 140 characters. I further questioned whether or not the service was even manageable from a personal perspective. Conversation is difficult at best and depending on the number of people in your Twitter feed, it is quite easy for the messages to be overwhelming.
That being said, I have found the service to be an absolute godsend when it comes to finding people with similar interests and keeping up to date with information of an immediate nature. I have found that Twitter is best suited for broadcasting out information to others who are following your stream. These broadcasts seem to reach a large body of people quickly and often then spark conversations that can either be attempted via Twitter but more often by other mechanism such as email or through blog comments.
When I moved my blogs from Movable Type to WordPress I wanted to make sure that I could continue to post new blog entries to my Twitter feed to notify others of when I update my blogs or add new content to my sites. Having this capability offers a service to notify users of new information without them having to subscribe to an RSS feed.
Looking over the WordPress extension library I was amazed to see how many Twitter integration programs there were. I must have tried over a dozen before finally settling on the one I am currently using.
I chose WP-Twitter written by Joseph Dolson. This plug-in seemed to have the most flexibility of all the Twitter integration packages. The installation is relatively straight forward using the Plug-In tab of the WordPress Administration Dashboard.
Once WP-Twitter is installed you will find a new menu item under the Settings tab of the Administration Dashboard. You are presented with several options which gives you a lot of flexibility as to what information will appear in your Twitter stream.
You are able to configure the plug-in to post to Twitter when a new blog entry is published and also when an entry is edited. You can publish the same for WordPress pages announcing when a page has been published or if it has been edited.
The WP-Twitter plug-in supports the use of hashtags and allows you to send custom text both before and after a message is sent. The plug-in supports both Cli.gs and Bit.ly URL shortening services and gives you some flexibility as to which service is used to condense URL length.
For those blogs who have multiple authors, the plug-in allows each blog author to have their own Twitter accounts. This flexibility allows the plug-in to be configured for a wide range of uses.
The WP-Twitter code is updated quite regularly. I have been notified of several updates to the code since I have installed it. Most of the updates work seamlessly but there have been cases when updates have broken the plug-in leaving me without Twitter integration until a new version is rolled out or I have reverted to an older version.
Care should be taken to review the change log and do a quick search on the Internet before blindly accepting an update to the plug-in. That could save you a lot of frustration and hassle. Overall though the plug-in has been relatively stable and I continue to use it despite the occasional problem that crops up.