Twitter to Facebook Pages: the convoluted (yet functional!) hack

Somewhere in the middle of running the “Hacking, Mashups, and Other Rebel Coding” session in the BlogHer 09 Geek Lab yesterday, I remembered that I never told the Internet how I solved the “Twitter to Facebook Pages” problem. It turned out to be an impressively convoluted daisy chain of a hack, and I’ll lay it all out below. But first: what am I talking about?

The Twitter to Facebook Pages Problem

A number of people (including myself) live on Twitter these days, and keep Facebook around as a secondary home. Personally, I’ve found it helpful to auto-broadcast my twitter updates as facebook status updates, so my Facebook friends know what I’m up to. There’s a very simple facebook app called “Twitter” that will manage this connection, and it’s super-easy to set up. (Note: If you want to start doing this, please do it with care. If you tweet a LOT, you could seriously annoy your facebook friends with this connection).

Meanwhile, Facebook launched their new and improved “Pages” functionality a year or so ago, which means that non-people (companies, projects, organizations, websites, okay and people too) can have facebook profiles that look and act like normal profiles, except that folks become “Fans” instead of “Friends.” This is awesome… except that the Twitter app FAILS MISERABLY when it tries to connect a twitter stream to a facebook page. It just doesn’t work right. A bug somewhere. They say they’re working on it, but it’s been a year now, and I don’t think we should hold our breaths.

So… I started a Facebook page for Genderfork, and wanted the Genderfork Twitter updates (which are AWESOME, thanks to the fantastic work of Bird of Paradox’s Helen) to show up as status updates on that page. This would be helpful and relevant, and it would make a lot of people happy. But, of course, it can’t be done. At least, not the easy way.

It’s also worth noting that we schedule our tweets for this account in advance using TweetLater.com. This means that any solution that requires us to tweet from X application probably won’t work for us, because it would mean we’d lose our scheduling abilities. It’s also worth noting that TweetLater does have a paid solution that would cut out some of the steps below… but Genderfork has no money, so we kept looking.

The Daisy Chain Hack

Ready for the answer? Here it is:

TweetLater.com -> Twitter.com -> Yahoo Pipes -> Twitterfeed.com -> Ping.fm -> Facebook Pages

Didja get all that?

Lemme break it down…

TweetLater.com -> Twitter.com: This is how we normally do things. I won’t go into those details here.

Twitter.com -> Yahoo Pipes: You’ll need to use your Twitter RSS feed, and this includes your username before every tweet, which gets annoying quickly on Facebook. So we’re going to run your feed through a hack someone set up on Yahoo Pipes that will remove your username from it. Go to this page, enter your Twitter username, wait for it to generate a feed, and click the “Get as RSS” menu option. When you end up at a funny-looking text-based page that shows your tweets on it, copy that URL. You’ll need it for the next step.

Yahoo Pipes -> Twitterfeed.com: So you copied the URL to your RSS feed, right? Cool. Now go to Twitterfeed.com and create an account. The go to “Create New Feed” and set the dropdown box to Ping.fm. Give your feed a name (doesn’t matter much what it is) and enter that RSS URL you grabbed. You’ll want to make a few changes under Advanced Settings on this page, too: (1) Change posting frequency to 30 minutes, (2) Change Post Content to include “title only,” and (3) turn off “Post Link.” Now wait here a minute.

Twitterfeed.com -> Ping.fm: In another window, browse to Ping.fm, create an account, and make sure you’re logged into it. Then jump back over to your Twitterfeed window and click the “Application Key” link (it’s a section header) on the page. It will launch another page that will give you a long secret key. Put that into your Twitterfeed window under Key to complete the process. It will ask how you want to post to ping… via microblogs, status updates, etc. It doesn’t really matter what you choose as long as you remember it and pick the same method when you get to Ping. Now submit that page. You’re done here.

Ping.fm -> Facebook Pages: This part’s a little confusing. You need to follow Ping’s instructions to set up a connection between your Ping account and your Facebook Page. This involves first creating a link to your profile, then adding the Ping app to your Facebook page, and manuevering buttons and switches until everything is set to the right thing. When you think you’re done TEST it by posting via the Ping.fm interface to microblogs or status updates or whatever you set in your Twitterfeed setting. It should show up on your Facebook Page and NOT on your Facebook Profile. If any of that’s not perfect, keep clicking and poking.

If all of that went as planned, you’re done now, but have no instant-gratification way of checking your work. So just sit back and wait for your next tweet to fully propogate, and see if it ends up on Facebook. You’ll need to give it an extra hour or so of wait time to be sure… there are some delays built into this process. (If you run into problems, go back and check to see that Twitterfeed.com is recognizing new posts.) Mine didn’t start working for three days because Twitterfeed was blocking Yahoo Pipes URLs (they seem to have fixed that now). But now it works beautifully.

Lemme know if it works for you.

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37 Responses to “Twitter to Facebook Pages: the convoluted (yet functional!) hack”

  1. Colin Fahrion Says:

    Wow that is convoluted but brilliant workaround. Been thinking of setting up a FB page for SF Tweed or Balsa Man and I thought twitter->fb page would just work. Thanks for the fix and heads up that it doesn't just work. That just saved me tons of screaming obscenities.

  2. Carla H Says:

    Don't know much about all the technological stuff, just wanted to say and enjoyed meeting and chatting in Chicago. Have a great day Sarah!

  3. Summer Says:

    I met you at BlogHer at the "speed dating" exercise and I just wanted to stop by and say "hi". You were so genuine to talk to, even if it was for only 60 seconds and I'm sorry we never got a chance to talk more later.
    I've thought about linking my tweets and FB, but I tweet way too much and would most likely drive my friends CRAZY!
    I do wonder if there is a FB app that will put my blog posts on it automatically (like the WP one for twitter). Do you know of anything like that?

  4. Danielle Warby Says:

    It appears ping.fm have disabled the checkbox on http://apps.facebook.com/pingdotfm/pages – I had a look at the code … am I missing something or is that a WTF?!

  5. J.T. Says:

    Why not just use Selective Twitter? It doesn't mean I didn't appreciate the hack though. :)

  6. Dan Misener Says:

    It's working beautifully for our blog (http://cbc.ca/spark) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/sparkcbc/). Many thanks for the explanation!

  7. Dan Misener Says:

    Personally, I don't want to have #fb at the end of all my tweets.

  8. LeRoy Says:

    Thank you, this hack works beautifully!

  9. sarahdopp Says:

    Hey Summer — it was great meeting you, too. Thanks for the insights on Blogger -> WordPress migration (i think that was you?) — it came in helpful later!

    For Blog -> Facebook, I use the "Import" function in the Notes area. It doesn't add them as status updates, but they appear in the news feed quite nicely. Lemme know if you need help finding it.

  10. sarahdopp Says:

    Hey, did you fix this yet? Is this what you need? http://pingfm.pbworks.com/Facebook-Page-Permissio

  11. sarahdopp Says:

    Really glad it worked!

  12. sarahdopp Says:

    Awesome! I'm so glad!

  13. sarahdopp Says:

    Ditto. :) Plus, I want EVERYTHING to appear.

  14. sarahdopp Says:

    Thanks, Carla! It was great meeting you too!

  15. sarahdopp Says:

    Yay — have you set it up yet? Lemme know how it goes.

  16. Mathew Says:

    Thanks for the great hack! Unfortunately I'm stuck at the point where I enter my ping.fm application key and click 'get available methods.' It returns the message 'Ping.fm error:' with no other information. It's weird–it doesn't seems to be an invalid user message.
    I've seen other people with this problem on the support forum. Has anyone here overcome it?
    Many thanks for any help. Cheers Sarah!

  17. Mathew Says:

    Hi again, I found out where I went wrong. ;-) The Ping.fm application key didn't work in Twitterfeed until I added a social network. Oops… ahem. I had to work through the instructions on connecting Ping.fm to Facebook a couple of times, but got there in the end. Cheers!

  18. Elmer Botha Says:

    Works! Except when I use Tweetlater. The tweet gets published on Twitter but no on my Facebook page.What am I doing wrong here?

  19. sarahdopp Says:

    Wait… if you make a post directly to Twitter it goes through the steps described above and ends up on Facebook, but if you make the post via TweetLater to Twitter, it doesn't? Is that right?

    Since the process above just uses your Twitter RSS feed (where all Tweets are treated equally), that doesn't make much sense to me. I'd keep testing and see if you can identify the exact place where the issue is happening.

    Tell me more and I'll keep thinking with ya.

  20. Elmer Botha Says:

    Exactly. Does not make sense to me either. I noticed in Tweetlater there are two accounts to choose from . My normal Twitter account and a automatically created RSS account. I assume I should use my self created Twitter account. I have to say, I have only tested it by sending tweets immediately. Maybe I should test it differently. Still, it's not really rocket science. It should just work. Thanks for the reply!

  21. sarahdopp Says:

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure you're supposed to use the regular account in tweetlater (that rss thing is something else). That's how I'm doing it.

    *blinks*

    I'm sorry… something ain't right, and I can't see the hole from where I'm standing.

    Hmm.. okay, I just looked at your twitter and FB page (cuz your website links to them–i assume that's them) and I see the tweet that post with "God is not angry with you" is on both, and it looks like it might have been posted via TweetLater. (on twitter, the tweetlater posts just say "from API". Is that right or am i misreading?

    Which tweets posted successfully?

  22. Elmer Botha Says:

    No, that was posted from Twhirl. Then it works perfectly. It's quite confusing really and I'm with you on this. It should just work. And it is obviously not common. It might just be some weird time zone setting or something. Thanks for your effort though. If I find the solution to the problem I'll let you know!

  23. sarahdopp Says:

    hmm…. forgive my contradicting, but the ones posted from Twhirl say "posted by twhirl" on them, and that one doesn't.

    I dare ya to post from TweetLater again, wait an hour, check facebook, and tell me i'm fullacrap. :)

  24. Elmer Botha Says:

    Ok, you've got a deal ;-)

  25. Elmer Botha Says:

    Ok, about the whole Twhirl/API thing. I agree, but this what actually happened (I'm still waking up here in South Africa). I actually tested Tweetlater, it didn't work and I copied and pasted the tweet in my Facebook page. I just tested it now again, and it still does not work. Go and check it out if you have the time.

  26. sarahdopp Says:

    thou has proven me fullacrap. *concedes*

    Are non-tweetlater posts still going through okay?

    if so, i admit bafflement and defeat.

  27. Elmer Botha Says:

    Bafflement? yes. Defeat? never! The strange thing is I use TwittyTunes for Firefox for another account of mine. I just tested it with the same account I use in Tweetlater Same problem?! It updates my Twitter feed but not my Facebook Page status. I think I am going to start from scratch.

  28. Louisa Says:

    I can’t get past creating the feed with twitterfeed – it keeps telling me that it can’t parse the feed – even though I have checked it with Feed Validator to make sure I am using the correct link. Is anyone else having this problem?

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    This sounds like a good idea. In my case, I would prefer to keep the tweets separate from my Facebook experience (which is quite a mess, and I am also starting to think of Facebook as a complete waste of time).

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