Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

Archive for the ‘Intranet’ Category

Social Retrofit for an Intranet: More Twitter Options

The last post referenced a method for embedding tweets into a web page using one of Twitter’s widgets. It’s kind of interesting, and does liven up a site a bit. But the tweets in that example weren’t about or by your company, per se. In the example, the widget’s tweets are the result of a search for specific words.

But there are two ways (at least) you can make your Twitter integration more relevant to your organization and, in so doing, more social.

1. Use Hashtags That Are Unique To Your Organization

As described in Twitter help, “The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.” The primary thing they do is to help find or filter for specific topics or keywords. Of course, hashtagology has evolved to become an artform, a way to also add commentary on tweets. This usage is articulated really nicely in an article by Susan Orlean in the New Yorker, which is referenced on the Twitter help page.

But to make your embedded Twitter widget more relevant to your organization, you could choose a unique hashtag for your organization, presumably one that nobody else will use.

Say, for example, you work for Acme Explosives, and you want to use Twitter as a way to share tweets with employees. You wouldn ‘t use the hashtag #acmeexplosives, because that would probably be used more generally outside the company.  Instead, you might want to use a hashtag that might be meaningful internally, memorable to employees but not obvious to others. Maybe something like #acmecommunity or, depending on how arcane you want to be, you could name the hashtag after your favorite customer, in this case perhaps #overconfidentiivulgaris.

Once you have the hashtag in place, you can then create a Twitter Search Widget that returns all tweets that use that hashtag. In essence, these are public messages directed at a private audience, so not suitable for confidential messaging, but a reasonable way to share industry / public news and notices with a specific audience.

Note that there are no technical barriers that prevent others from using your unique tag, so mischief from non-employees or partners is possible in this approach.

2. Create a Twitter List of Employees

Another approach would be to create a public Twitter list of all employees and partners whose tweets you want to make available. There’s a good introduction to lists in the Twitter Help pages. In the complete version of this approach, you’d have every employee get a Twitter account.

Once you have that list in place, you can create a Twitter List Widget that is based on that public list. In this case, every tweet added by employees on that ist will appear in the widget. Of course, you may have employees who tweet in areas that aren’t relevant to your organization’s focus. In this case, those employees may want to create separate Twitter accounts, or you may want to use the hashtag approach.


Written by tstaley

August 15, 2011 at 11:38 am

Social Retrofit for an Intranet: Twitter Widget

This post looks at how to make a traditional – that is, static and impersonal – Intranet come to life and embody social engagement features without throwing the entire edifice out and starting over. (Not that there’s anything wrong with adopting a new platform: it’s a bigger project, and costlier, but the new generation of social Intranets are pretty compelling).

In the previous post, an external blog got hacked into a website through the use of iframes. “Hack” really is the operative word, and the approach is more evidence that a wholecoth solution is preferable when possible. However, there are many ways to season an old Intranet to enliven it a bit, and in this post we’ll look at the variations of Twitter widgets you can easily embed to make your site – internal or external – a little more social and dynamic.

Twitter itself does all the hard work in creating a Twitter widget. On the Twitter site, there’s a page that enables you to easily create four different kinds of dynamic feeds:

  • Profile Widget: Display your most recent Twitter updates on any webpage. The image at left is an example.
  • Search Widget: Displays search results in real time! Ideal for live events, broadcastings, conferences, TV Shows, or even just keeping up with the news.

  • Faves Widget: Show off your favorite tweets! Also in real time, this widget will pull in the tweets you’ve starred as favorites. It’s great for moderation.
  • List Widget: Put your favorite tweeps into a list! Then show ’em off in a widget. Also great for moderation.

Below is a “Search Widget” which provides a real time feed of tweets containing the words “social” and “intranet”. There’s also a “List Widget” on this site, which shows a feed of Softjoe members’ tweets, accessible at the Twitter Feed link in the menu or here.

To create your Twitter widget, go to, and choose the My Website link on the left. There you’ll see the four kinds of feed reiterated above; choose the feed type of your choice, and Twitter offers you a set of simple controls to set up things like color, size, title, etc. Each page can show you a real-time preview of the widget as it will appear on your site.

When you’re done, click the button that says “Finish & Grab Code”, and you’ll get an edit control that has about 33 lines of code that you can copy and paste into your web site.

You can see an example of a Twitter widget in action here.

Written by tstaley

August 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Intranet