Frost’s Bot – A How-To post

To all bloggers out there, a service like Hootsuite or Buffer is a godsend. They take care of our social media posts for a time. The only issue is to keep it continuously updated. I use Buffer in connection with my Feedly account. This is for my LinkedIn and the more serious & neglected @jbhargavan account. HootSuite was the one which I used extensively for blogging purposes.

But how many posts could be scheduled, there was a limit of thirty on Hootsuite and one had to keep track of it somehow. Additionally, I had an excel sheet with details like the book title, tweets, short links and author/publisher details etc. Every time I was updating Hootsuite I looked into this Excel sheet and then made the post.

Blog Tweets
This is how I maintain my content for tweets.

Now, I do not have a separate file to track when or how many times I have tweeted about a certain post, I just use the scheduled tab from Hootsuite for this. Once you log into your dashboard then go to the publisher tab and then past scheduled, voila… all your content is there.

Hootsuite
As you see I have gone a few days without any content being posted.

It was a good system, and I have had no complaints. But my lazy self can’t be bothered to keep updating the feed and often times I go weeks before I make a schedule to post. Yesterday I stumbled upon a twitter bot. It was a random thing really and it got me wondering if I could get one of my own as well. And I am happy to report I did!

This is how I did it. Cheap Bots, Done Quick is where I got it done. It was an easy peasy task. Here’s how I did it.

Once you click on the link (Cheap Bots, Done Quick) it takes you to their homepage. You are required to sign in with your Twitter account. Now if you are creating a separate account for your bot, then make a Twitter account and log in to that account on your web browser. Log into your new Twitter account via Cheap Bots, Done Quick. Basically, make sure the Twitter account you are going to be using the bot through is the one you have logged in to on your browser.

Once you log in this is the screen you will be seeing.

Cheap Bots Done Quick.jpg
Cheap Bots, Done Quick home page

All those words may look like some foreign language, but it’s actually pretty easy. I’ll just explain all that I did to make it work. what you really will be using is the bottom half of the screen, shown below.

Cheap Bots Done Quick (1).jpg
These are the functions that you can use to set up your bot. (Also, oops! I forgot to shift the arrow from the left to the right for the logout button.)

Now coming to the code portion of it. There is a basic portion of code given and you have to change it to suit your needs. This is what is given –

{{

“origin”: [“this could be a tweet”, “this is #alternatives# tweet”, “#completely different#”],

“alternatives” : [“an example”, “a different”, “another”, “a possible”, “a generated”, “your next”],

“completely different” : [“and now for something completely different”, “so long and thanks for all the fish”, “or, maybe, #alternatives# badger”]

}

And this is how you can change it. I am posting an example of how I have done it.

{{

“origin”: [“Book Review – #alternatives#”, “#completely different#”],

“alternatives” : [“Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman http://ow.ly/eRdT30jz6VG”, “The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan http://ow.ly/RhKa30jz6YM”, “The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi by Arun Gandhi http://ow.ly/x8AK30jz74B”%5D

“completely different” : [“Once you begin reading, it is an absorbing book. \\#NorseMythology \\#NeilGaiman http://ow.ly/eRdT30jz6VG”,
“Neil Gaiman has created a sort of magical experience with this book. \\#NorseMythology \\#NeilGaiman http://ow.ly/eRdT30jz6VG”,
“The Rise of Sivagami is packed with twists and turns, vile plots and gripping wars. \\#TheRiseOfSivagami \\#AnandNeelakantan http://ow.ly/RhKa30jz6YM”,
“This is the first time I am reading a book that has taken off from a movie and not the other way around. \\#TheRiseOfSivagami http://ow.ly/RhKa30jz6YM”,
“Grandfathers are very important in a child’s life. And if that grandfather happens to be the ‘Father of our Nation’!?!?! ⭐⭐⭐⭐ http://ow.ly/x8AK30jz74B”,]

}

],

Here’s an explanation. You see this – “origin”: – this is where your tweets start. Now when a tweet is being formed by the algorithm, it first checks the “origin”:. The first step from there is to input Book Review into the tweet, and then the algorithm encounters #alternatives#. And that is where we go next. The algorithm chooses one from the lot of alternatives that you’ve given it under the “alternatives” . So, my tweets could be any of the following –

Book Review – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman http://ow.ly/eRdT30jz6VG

Book Review – The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan http://ow.ly/RhKa30jz6YM

Book Review – The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi by Arun Gandhi http://ow.ly/x8AK30jz74B

Are you getting a sense of this yet? The next option for the algorithm is to go the second part of “origin”: which is #completely different#. The algorithm goes to the “completely different” section and makes a pick. And in that case, my tweets will be like these –

Once you begin reading, it is an absorbing book. #NorseMythology #NeilGaiman http://ow.ly/eRdT30jz6VG

Neil Gaiman has created a sort of magical experience with this book. #NorseMythology #NeilGaiman http://ow.ly/eRdT30jz6VG

The Rise of Sivagami is packed with twists and turns, vile plots and gripping wars. #TheRiseOfSivagami #AnandNeelakantan http://ow.ly/RhKa30jz6YM

There are just a few things that you may need to mind –

  • make sure that you open and close double quotes, and commas everywhere appropriately.
  • Do not leave an extra space
  • use”\\” before hashtags in the code. They do not get recognised otherwise.

And do not worry, because this really very easy once you see a sample tweet of a few choices you’ve entered. Try it before you finalise. The program also throws up a warning if you have left out a quotation mark or added a space or any other error, but otherwise it is pretty simple and straightforward.

Since I already had a spreadsheet with the data and links, I just had to add appropriate quotation marks and a comma. But then, I couldn’t let it be and made a new spreadsheet for this purpose as well.

Cheap Bots Done Quick (2).jpg
These for my Bot, organised by blog post.

So where does all this work lead me to – free from scheduling!!! I can just update the spreadsheet when I want, update the program and then relax. The bot will do its job and share it on Twitter. By the way, Frost’s Bot is already at work. Have a look.

twitter bot.png

Now go and follow Frost’s Bot (https://twitter.com/FrostsBot) on Twitter. #FollowForFollow 👍👍

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