“Once you put it out on the Web, it’s always exists.”
“Oh yeah, well then why can’t I find what I’m looking for?”
If you put anything of significance on Twitter or just want to keep a copy of everything for yourself, you’ll probably want to keep a copy of your Tweets. Between Twitter’s downtime or “Older tweets are temporarily unavailable.”, off-loading from Twitter seems best. Previously mentioned applications like Sharetronix or Status.Net allows you to establish a micro-blogging system running off your own server. That’s one approach but many people are on Twitter for one reason or another and don’t want to switch. A better setup would be to continue using Twitter as is but archiving the individual tweets. Here’s how I’m accomplishing that using WordPress 3.0.
Using the WordPress Multisite functionality that’s new with WordPress 3.0, I created a new sub-blog of my site because I didn’t want to clutter up 404 Tech Support with my tweets. Using a separate site would also remove any possibility of the infinite loop of importing tweets and tweeting every post. I setup Twitter.404TechSupport.com through the WordPress Dashboard, chose a theme, and made the customizations I wanted. With the WordPress instance all setup, we have two tasks: 1) grab all our tweets before today and 2) grab all our tweets from now on.
Importing Previous Tweets
We might have just cut our losses and said we can only archive future posts and said “hindsight is 20/20” but we can grab all of our previous tweets with some magic from a little WordPress plugin called Twitter Importer. Twitter Importer is compatible up to WordPress 3.0.1. With it installed I was able to grab all 1,100+ previous tweets I’ve made.
The plugin adds another type of importing tool into the WordPress Dashboard along with the built-in options to convert from Blogger, LiveJournal, Movable Type and TypePad, RSS, or WordPress exports. Found under Tools, Import you can select to import from Twitter. You then just enter your username, the category you’d like those posts to go into, and who should be the author and then let it do its magic. It didn’t take long at all for it to complete my import. You can also see that this tool uses the RSS feed for the Twitter account so you could actually use this to archive any account you’re interested in.
The only shortcoming I saw with Twitter Importer was that links lost their formatting and became plain text. You can easily fix this with another plugin, Autolink URI. This plugin will just look at your posts and turn any URL into a link.
Archiving Future Tweets
Grabbing future tweets is managed by a specialized plugin called Twitter Tools. This plugin is also compatible with up to WordPress 3.0.1. Unlike Twitter Importer, using this will require registering an app with Twitter. Once you get your keys from Twitter and Twitter Tools connected to Twitter, you can configure the plugin’s settings to make it behave how you’d like. For example, you can have Twitter Tools automatically tweet whenever you publish a WordPress post or create a WordPress post each time you tweet. There are also experimental settings that would allow you to create a daily or weekly digest of your tweets.
The beauty of this setup is that after it’s all configured you can mostly just set it and forget it. If you want to do some searching in your Twitter archives, you can visit the site but the admin side should only need the occasional updates but that can be taken care of through the shared Dashboard with your other sites.
There are a number of other tools that are dedicated to archiving posts to Twitter like Sweetcron, an open-source lifestream blog application, but the approach highlighted with this article should require the minimal impact if you’re already using WordPress for another site.