Monday, September 12, 2011

Google Reader Tames Twitter Stream

Google Reader Tames Twitter Stream

Twitter became a key information resource during the September 2011 Central Texas Fires. The national media has been ignoring Texas, and the local media was not responding quickly enough. Several Hashtags were created to track the fire:
  • #centraltxfire
  • #satxfires
  • #txfire
  • #Steiner and #Steinerfire
  • #bastrop
  • etcetera ... 

Twitter makes it easy to create and save Searches:

  1. Click in the Search box
  2. Type your term or keywords
  3. Hit enter,
  4. Click “Save This Search” button on the results page (click for larger picture).
Twitter Search

The problem with Twitter Searches is that you still have to review each stream individually. Google Reader can track multiple Twitter Streams in a single interface. 


Add a Twitter Stream to Google Reader:

In Google Reader, Click on “Browse for Stuff” which takes you to the Discover and Search for Feeds page.
  1. Click “Search”
  2. In the Track Keywords and Seraches dialog box, add the hashtag.
  3. Select Twitter Search from the drop-down
  4. Click Subscribe

In addition to Twitter Hashtags several Facebook pages provided critical information. The challenge is to collect all of the data streams into a simple interface so that important items can be tracked and less important can be ignored.

Add Facebook Page to Google Reader:

  1. Go to a Facebook page you want to track
  2. Scroll down in the left hand navigation of the page 
  3. Click “Get Updates via RSS”
  4. When the XML page is displayed, copy the URL
Reader RSS URL
  1. In Google Reader, Click on “Browse for Stuff” which takes you to the Discover and Search for Feeds page.
  2. Click “Search”
  3. Paste the URL from Step 2 (above) into the input box “Search for Feeds”
  4. Click “Search for Feeds”
  5. Click the +Subscribe button on the results page
In this example we used the Target Department Store Facebook page as an example.

Reader Subscribe Page

All Together Now

You can repeat as needed to add Twitter hashtags, Facebook pages, and any blogs that might be covering the same topic. Create a Folder and assign all feeds for simplified viewing. Google Reader allows posts to be managed: read, unread, starred, etc. And, when the event is over, you can deleted the items on the Manage Subscriptions view.  

These steps allow you to consolidate multiple Twitter, Facebook and Blog streams into Google Reader (and into Feedly if you use that tool). 

Here is a sample of a Twitter Stream and the Manage Subscriptions pages in Google Reader:

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