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Google Calendar to Twitter – How to get the most out of your Google Calendar

08 Oct

UPDATE 9/26/11: The easiest way to get Google Calendar Events to Twitter.

UPDATE 8/5/11: Check out the update for Google Calendar to Twitter. It just might help with that pesky GMail verification code for forwarding.

UPDATE 1/21/10: I have just received information from Anil Chawla @anilchawla, creator of TweetyMail a competitor to TwitterMail. I have not had a chance to check it out but it looks promising. (See Anil’s post below)

UPDATE 1/19/10: TwitterMail is now working again through TwitterCounter.com. Thanks Boris… see UPDATE from 12/3/09

UPDATE 12/3/09: If you have been experiencing problems with TwitterMail here is what has happened:  TwitterMail was purchased by TwitterCounter.com but according to TwitterCounter’s founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten “…it will be back soon.”  Please check out their website.  I hope that TwitterMail will come back stronger than before.  Here is a link that gives an alternative method with an extra step. (http://bit.ly/5LClRD)

When I created our new school website over the summer one of the goals I had was to communicate with our audience in as many ways as possible. We now have news articles on the home page and we have an embedded Google Calendar. I also set up a page for the daily bulletin in written and video form as well as an RSS feed from two of our school Twitter accounts (LGHSCalendar & LGHSCafe) on the bulletin page, one to tell you coming events and the other to tell you the cafeteria menu for the day.

Communication in many forms was the primary goal, however a secondary goal was ease of maintenance.  I did not want to personally tweet the cafeteria menu daily or the daily events.  Automation was the key, but how?  I decided the easiest solution was to find a way to send our daily reminders from our Google Calendar of school events and cafeteria schedule to Twitter.  How to do this was the problem.  I tried SMS-to-SMS and even RSS-to-SMS but could not get the accounts to talk to one another. The answer was TwitterMail.com.  With this free service I was able to have Google Calendar send out an email reminder of an event to TwitterMail, TwitterMail in return would then post that reminder as a Tweet on our Twitter accounts.  The only thing I need to do is keep the calendar up to date.  As an added bonus Twitter has an RSS feed for an account profile, meaning that I can use that feed with an RSS reader gadget to post it dynamically on our website.

Again, communication was my goal and I was able to accomplish a big portion with a couple of calendars that were created already. Using these existing calendars we now are able to communicate in many ways with our audience.

Several people have asked me how I was able to set this up.  I decided to create a screen capture of the process to help them out.

This is the step-by-step version with instructions.

This is a quick animoto version.

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29 Comments

Posted by on October 8, 2009 in How To, Teaching, Tech Tid Bit

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

29 responses to “Google Calendar to Twitter – How to get the most out of your Google Calendar

  1. Larry Roberts

    October 25, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Very cool, I was wondering how to do this. I can see a potential for hijacking the feed, though. I think it would be a little bit of a problem for me to have it under a different gmail account since I tend to put info from my gmail into the calendar, but I guess I could have more than one webbrowser program open.

     
  2. Larry Roberts

    October 25, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Oh wait, I guess I could just grant permission to edit the calendar to my primary account.

     
  3. Larry Roberts

    October 25, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Sorry about all the comments. Anyway, Twittermail seems to be down so instead I did post-by-mail to a blogger account and then used twitterfeed.com to send to Twitter. This is good for me because I have long calendar entries and twitterfeed automatically makes a bit.ly URL pointing to the blogger entry. Now if only I could filter out that space-wasting word “Reminder”. If only Gmail had Procmail.

     
  4. Gerry

    December 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I followed your setup back in October, and it worked great until a week or so ago, for the reasons you explained of their services bought out. What are you now using?

    Since this went down, my calendar broadcasts or tweets have ceased, so am in the process of finding an alternative.

     
  5. Danny Silva

    December 7, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Here is a link to a site that might help. http://bit.ly/5LClRD It adds an extra step but could get you going.

     
  6. Anil

    January 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Take a look at http://tweetymail.com as an alternative to TwitterMail. The best part about tweetymail is that you do not have to use a “secret” posting address. tweetymail supports your scenario of easily sending Google Calendar reminders to Twitter: http://tweetymail.com/faq#tweetGoogleCalendar. I hope this helps!

     
  7. TimG

    March 24, 2010 at 4:57 am

    Great concept, and spot-on to what I was looking for. Thanks!
    I’d like to share a couple of insights I gained along the way while setting up my own Google Calendar-to-Twitter conduit.

    1. As a former TwitterMail user who experienced reliability issues (I know, I know, they’ve probably ironed them out, but I got frustrated last year!), I opted for TweetyMail instead.

    2. TweetyMail lets you register several different incoming email addresses, with some nice ‘whitespace’ and ‘truncation’ options for each one. (This lets you avoid tweeting, say, your email signature)

    CAUTION: TweetyMail, like so many email servers today, ‘authorizes’ the From: address before accepting email … to prevent ‘spoofing’ … and this typically fails for Google Apps users who use GMail’s ‘Send As…’ feature. (Which I adore) So you wind up having to set a special SPF Record (a simple text file) at your domain provider’s DNS settings area.

    3. To be extra-safe, I’d recommend setting up a slightly stricter Filter in your GMail in-box: Instead of [Has the words] ‘Reminder’ (which is easy for a malicious person to coopt), I set my Filter as follows:

    [From] calendar-notification@google.com
    [Subject] Reminder:
    [Doesn’t have] notweet

    4. For maximum flexibility, I type the word ‘notweet’ inconspicuously at the end of an event’s [Description] field, for those events I do NOT want to appear on Twitter. Sure, I still get the email reminder for those, but they don’t get forwarded to TweetyMail. Nice option. I’m still testing this now; you may come up with even more useful variations on this idea.

    Oh, and one last thing about TweetyMail that I found a pleasant surprise: It lets you send commands (via several different @TweetyMail addresses, like Follow@, or Block@) to administer your Twitter account thru email!

    Thanks again for the post and videos!! Now, what’s for lunch??

     
  8. Danny Silva

    March 25, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Great stuff Tim. Thanks for the information, I am sure there will be a lot of people that will love this extra information.

     
  9. TimG

    March 25, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Some (hopefully brief) additional thoughts:

    There’s no doubt your suggested dataflow works reliably:

    GCal > Notify > GMail > Filter > Fwd > TwitterMail > Twitter

    But as noted, the resulting tweets suffer from brevity caused by insertion of extra text by GCal’s notifications. (And I kinda dislike shortening my events’ What: field just to accommodate…)

    So, I intend to explore a much more flexible alternative dataflow, namely:

    GCal > XML > Yahoo Pipes > editing/filtering > TwitterFeed > Twitter

    Benefits: Better event descriptions; adds bit.ly (or other) shortcuts; no need for notifications; eliminates (Calendar Name) issue; allows for inclusion of Where:, Who: or Description: field(s)!

    Am working on this now, and will let you know… but sorry if this smacks of usurping your article’s original intent.
    🙂

     
  10. TimG

    March 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Success! After plying the Web for clues how to parse a Google Calendar’s ‘Events’ (public XML) feed correctly, I crafted a Yahoo! Pipes pipes that gets the job done. Without going into specifics (yet), here’s a comparison of the outputs, as seen on Twitter:

    Before:
    Reminder: Inner City Consortium Meeting @ Sun Mar 28 1pm – 2pm (MyRegular Calendar)
    about 22 hours ago via tweetymail

    After:
    FYI: Inner City Consortium Meeting – Sun Mar 28, 2010 1pm to 2pm @ Willie Williams Center, 2020 Washington Ave. http://bit.ly/123456
    about 1 hours ago via twitterfeed

    Please let me know if you would like an explanation of the mechanics behind this approach. For now, it should suffice to know where you can find the Pipe I designed:

    Pipe Web Address: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=43cf497835014105d2d1dfa9b341188a

    Be sure to ‘Clone’ it for yourself, ‘Edit Source’ and then make alterations as necessary (see Pipe’s Description for details).

    Works like a charm for me!! Thanks for the inspiration!

     
  11. Danny Silva

    March 26, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    TimG

    I would love to have the information. Thanks for your help.

    DS

     
  12. TimG

    March 26, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    For complete details, check out the Pipe Web Address link above (which may require a Yahoo! account). Once you find my GCal2Tweet pipe, click “Clone” to create a local copy for yourself, then click “Edit Source” to see how it’s constructed. I tried to document it pretty thoroughly in its description.

    Pros:
    Permits filtering by keyword (in event Description field)
    Allows shortening of certain words
    Fully configurable (e.g. timestamp formatting, etc.)
    RSS output is freely reusable
    All you need to know is your Calendar ID: (which is not revealed)
    Does not require Notifications or email forwarding filter
    TwitterFeed can add a short URL for each event posted on Twitter
    Able to monitor click-thru rate for each item’s (bit.ly) shortcut
    Omits originating calendar’s name from posted items (can be added!)

    Cons:
    Less straightforward setup than GCal > TweetyMail (or TwitterMail)
    Items may post less promptly than desired (due to TwitterFeed lags)
    …I can’t really think of any more cons!

    Hope this helps. Any questions?

     
  13. Larry Roberts

    March 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I go through blogger, which gives me a page for the link-back in the URL. I didn’t know about Yahoo Pipes before – it looks like it could be useful. I would definitely like to filter out the calendar name which is just wasted space.

     
  14. TimG

    March 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    URL: http://pipes.yahoo.com

    Search for ‘GCal2Tweet’ and my pipe should appear. Experiment freely!

    (Output is viewable on Twitter under the handle NOLAhoods)

     
  15. TimG

    March 28, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Update for 3/28/2010:

    I noticed that GCal2Tweet has been cloned at least once, so I though I better mention it’s been tweaked and updated substantially over the past few days.

    o Optimized the way dates are handled, to correct a Yahoo Pipes bug
    o Added feature to update each event’s “pubDate” to “now” so that TwitterFeed will process them in a timely manner (Google Calendar assigns pubDate values based on when the event was first placed on the calendar, not according – as you might expect – to the event’s starting time!)

    Thanks for your patience, and for allowing me to mention my little project on your page. Obviously I want anyone who’s lucky enough to find YOUR excellent workflow to have the option of trying MINE simultaneously.

     
  16. Kathe Welch

    January 24, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Hey Danny,

    I heard you speak at the PLC conference in Monterrey. It vwas very helpful.

    I am trying some of the things you suggested. I have my twittermail account and I am trying to set up a filter in Google, but Google wants me to verify the new e-mail address. I can’t find the e-mail Google “sent me” on my twittermail, therefore can’t verify.

    What am I missing?
    Thanks
    Kathe

     
  17. Kathe Welch

    January 24, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Disregard my last question. I got it. Thanks for the awesome ideas…

     
  18. KBecker

    March 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Could you please address the question from post 18? I have been unable to verify the forwarding address for Twittermail. Somehow the confirmation emails are not being passed on as tweets either…

     
  19. Danny Silva

    March 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    The best solution, would be to set up the twitter account first and make it private. (Later you can turn it back to public) Next, set up the your twittermail account. (you will need to set it to Tweet the body and not the subject at this point. Later you can change it back to subject.) Last, set up your GMail forwarding address.

    This will send an email to your twittermail account and that should tweet your verification code. Use that code to verify the forwarding email. Then you can set everything back to normal.

    This is what I have told people in the past and it seems to work. Let me know if it does not and we can get it working. I have not needed to do this because I have had my accounts set up before you needed to verify a forwarded email.

     
  20. KBecker

    March 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Hmm… no luck so far. I’ve tried your instructions with two different Twitter/Gmail account combinations, and while both can successfully tweet the bodies of emails sent to the Twittermail address, they have so far failed to tweet the Gmail forwarding verification message. I really hope Google hasn’t decided to close a loophole here. Thanks for your help, and if you have any more ideas I’d be happy to try them out.

     
  21. KBecker

    March 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Danny,

    I just tried TweetyMail, which is capable of automatically responding to Gmail forwarding authorization requests – success! In terms of the calendar event tweeting that you demonstrated with TwitterMail, the end results from TweetyMail are identical, although the free TweetyMail account is limited to 100 tweets per month. Thanks for the terrific ideas!

     
  22. Sergio Ortiz

    August 5, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Hello, I found very useful your instructions, I just have one question, I set up already the forward address in my gmail account pointing to the secret twittermail account, now gmail sent a confirmation code to the secret twitter address to validate and activate the forward address. My Question is, how can I have access to my Inbox in my twittermail? Thank you! Sergio.

     
  23. Danny Silva

    August 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Hi Sergio, Check out this update to Google Calendar to Twitter. I think it will help. There is an added step to have TwitterMail to the body of an email so it will actually tweet a link to view the verification code.

    Thanks for the great question.

    Danny

     
  24. Sergio Ortiz

    August 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Great! it works, thank you teacher!
    Today for me, tomorrow may be for you, so count with me.
    Cheers from Mexico.

     
  25. simplespanish123.com

    January 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the little
    changes that produce the greatest changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

     

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