Get a nice plug-and-play Twitter page aggregating all your official accounts… courtesy of NC State Outreach Technology folks

October 16th, 2009 Karine Joly 3 Comments

Have you seen NC State’s Twitter page yet?

Launched last month, it aggregates all the official twitter accounts on a single easy-to-use web page.

It looks sharp and really user-friendly.

Wish you could have a similar page for your institution?

Well, stop dreaming and send a thank-you email to the nice folks at NC State as they have decided to open-source the code powering their neat Twitter page.

But, before downloading the code, take a minute to read the short interview I conducted with Jason Austin, Senior Solutions Implementation Engineer NCSU – OIT – Outreach Technology (that’s a nice long title), about NC State Twitter page.

1) How long did it take to create this page?

From concept to design to implementation, we had 4 staff members in two departments working on it for about a week on and off. It wasn’t terribly labor intensive, just took some initiative and coordination to get it done. It started as one of those “Hey, we should make a page where all the campus twitter accounts are listed so people can find organizations they might want to follow.” Next thing we knew, we were working on a design and had the basic site up quickly. After the site went live, we began getting requests from other universities for the code, so we decided to package it up and distribute it.

2) What kind of traffic do you get on this page? Have you seen an increase in followers for the NC state Twitter accounts?

The page itself doesn’t get an overwhelming amount of traffic yet.
It’s had more than 5,000 visits so far, which is pretty good considering we’ve only advertised on Twitter and Facebook. The site isn’t linked prominently from the main university site yet, but we’re planning to promote it much more on the university home page and throughout the Web presence very soon.

The RSS feed of all the tweets probably gets the most activity because it allows people to stay up with real-time happenings on campus from all the twitter feeds and don’t have to actually follow all the accounts. That feed is part of our growing mobile site as well.

The real result is looking at the number of followers from the accounts listed on the page. The page has provided a great resource to put users in touch with on-campus groups and increase their relevant followers (not just spam). Our campus news account (@NCStateNews) now has more than 1,500 followers. It was closer to 1,000 before the site launched just over a month ago.

We should also note that putting this aggregate together has encouraged other organizations to start using twitter. We now have over 60 organizations using Twitter for all kinds of communications.
The site takes all of those feeds, puts them in a simple context, and gives a great sense of what’s happening at NC State right now.

3) What are the technical requirements to run your code for this page?

The code is based on PHP 5 and uses the Twitter API wrapper provided by the Zend Framework. No internal database is used at all. The accounts and tweets all come directly from the twitter API.

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