Providing a steady stream of valuable content on your social networks is critical if you hope to attract and maintain a large list of followers, either to promote your blog, create brand awareness, or to increase your revenue potential. However, coming up with constant content that is both useful and interesting can be a challenge. This challenge is even greater on Twitter, where your posts are limited to 140 characters or less.
Of course, Google has a tool to help. Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) can be used to automatically feed relevant news stories, tutorials, how-tos, and videos into your Twitter feed to keep your stream regularly updated with relevant content. Here's what you need to know:
Choose Your Topics
First, decide what kind of alerts you want to receive. What is your blog about? If you write about tech tips, you can get alerts about tech developments, useful tips, or safety information. If you write about finances, you can get alerts about stock activity, related news stories, or resources for financial planning. Brainstorm all the type of content that would be relevant to your blog, and then you're ready to begin.
Set Up Your Alerts Once you have your list of topics, start plugging in the appropriate keywords for your alert. For example, if you want to get alerts about tech tutorials, you might enter in terms like "Windows tutorial" or "PC updates."
Remember that if you create an alert with more than one term, you will get results that use any of the words in your phrase. So an alert for "Windows tutorial" will bring you sites that include any combination of the words "Windows" and "tutorial" -- which could include home-improvement tips, for example.
If you want to search for exact phrases and narrow your results, enter "allintitle:" followed by your terms.
Select Your Options You can customize your alerts by choosing the types of results you want to receive and how often.
You can choose to receive results as they happen -- not recommended if you are searching for a broad term or your inbox or Twitter feed will be overloaded -- or you can get alerts daily or weekly. Choose your frequency based on your needs. If you want your stream constantly updating, choose "as it occurs." Otherwise, choose once a day or once a week and filter out what you need.
You can also choose to get all results, "only the best results" or results from specific sources, such as blogs only. Determine the sources most likely to have the content you need and choose appropriately.
Sending to Twitter To post your alerts to Twitter, you must first select "send to feed" under delivery options. Otherwise, these will be sent to your e-mail account. You can choose to have them come to your e-mail first if you want greater control over what goes to your Twitter account. However, if you want to automate the process and cut down on your work, you can do so.
Choosing the "send to feed" option will usually send it to your Google reader account. Instead, right click on the link and edit the url there with a link to a special service such as Twitterfeed (http://twitterfeed.com/). Voila, you have automated Twitter feeds!
How would setting up automated Google alerts for your Twitter feed enhance your Twitter stream? Tell us your ideas for how you would use this trick in the comments!
Author: Sarah Rexman is the main researcher and writer for bedbugs.org. Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Florida State, with a master’s degree in environmental science. Her main focus for the site involves finding facts about bed bugs.