Dec 8, 2009

Twitter-to-email Tutorial

One thing we do with our @mailchimp twitter account is we tag our favorite tweets from customers. For example, if someone tweets something like this:

You "fav a tweet" by clicking the little star in the corner

You "fav a tweet" by clicking the little star in the corner

we click the little "favorite" star, and it gets saved in our list of favorites. It’s basically like bookmarking a web page, but for tweets. We then dynamically pull those favs into our MailChimp website (such as on our testimonials page). On the side, we’ll occasionally send those nice tweets around the office by email.

Then Amanda, our Chief Twitter Officer, realized something cool: all our favorites are available via RSS feed, so we can actually use MailChimp’s RSS-to-email tool to automatically send twittermonials to our entire team. Here’s how…

First, you’ll need to start fav’ing some tweets. If you’d prefer, you might even setup a totally separate twitter account just to stalk your main account, and fav all the nice tweets that mention your brand. Anyway, once you’ve got some favs saved, click on the "favorites" link in your twitter account:


Then you’ll be taken to your favorites list. BTW, I liked it better when they spelled it "favourites" didn’t you? Seemed more international.

Anyway, once you’re looking at your favorites list, scroll down the right column and look for this link:


That’s the RSS feed of all your favorites. Click it, and copy the URL in your address bar so you can paste it into MailChimp.

Take that, and build an RSS-to-email campaign in MailChimp.

I’m not going to go through all those steps, because I’ve already written up a HUGE tutorial for that over here. So go read that, then come back.

Okay, all done? That was a great article, wasn’t it?

If you actually read it, you’d know that our RSS-to-email campaigns will only pull your most recent updates into the email. So for example, if you schedule this to go out daily, we’ll only show the favorite tweets from the last day. And so on and so forth for weekly/monthly updates.

Now for the next step: make it pretty.

Using MailChimp’s Twitter Template

Now that you know how to setup an RSS-to-email campaign, let’s focus on the actual design of the email messages.

You could use any of our email templates in combination with our RSS merge tags to manually build a nice email, but one shortcut is to just use our new built-in twitter template.

It’ll basically pull in the design (colors, background images, your avatar, etc) from your twitter profile, and create a matching email newsletter.

Here’s a tutorial on how to use the new twitter template, and here’s what my resulting email looks like:


as you can see, it pulls in some cool data from our main @mailchimp twitter account, like most recent tweets, and # of followers.

Now that we’ve got the feed working and the design nice and tight, we just ask all our employees (who want these updates) to signup to the list.

Of course they could just follow mentions of "mailchimp" in a tweetdeck column or something (which I still do as well), but not everybody in the company is on twitter that often. Occasional, automatic emails in your inbox with nice comments about our product make the dev team happy. Nice tweets about our customer service make the customer support team happy.

Perhaps you wouldn’t want to do this with your favorite tweets, but it works with any twitter RSS feed. Maybe you want to create a regular email campaign of your week’s tweets. Maybe you want to email yourself someone else’s recent tweets. You could even mash up several different feeds (with Chimpfeedr) and then use that with our rss-to-email tool.