Where am I? What’s going on?
I look forward to specials when I eat out and I think that twitter would be a great way to help people share information about specials at their favorite Cleveland area restaurants. A few days ago I started tweeting about them. I hope that some people find it interesting or useful. It’s also very easy so I hope that some people will start sharing restaurant specials that they hear about. If you found this page by typing a URL that you got from a card that someone slipped you, you’re looking at a page on my blog I made to describe what I think is the easiest way for the most people to information about restaurant specials with one another.
It’s really very easy. This page is so long because there are so many different ways of doing it. But, you only need to use the one that you like. It only takes a few seconds to announce a special and you can be immediately informed of other specials in several different convenient ways.
If this page doesn’t answer you question. Reporting restaurant specials is much easier than asking questions on this wiki, by the way. If you prefer, tweet or direct message your question to @clevespecials or @stu_spivack.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a microblogging service. The most typical use of twitter is to post short updates about what you’re doing or how you’re feeling but you can post any text at all as long as you can fit it in 140 characters.
This restaurant special notification system depends on twitter. In order to contribute news about restaurant specials you’ll need to create your own twitter account. A twitter account will also allow you to read about specials on the twitter website but there are other ways to follow the announcements without a twitter account.
To join, go to twitter and click the big “join” button.
How do I announce a special?
You tweet. That is, you use twitter to send a message. There are several ways to tweet but however you do it, you need to remember to include “#clevelandspecials” somewhere in the text of your tweet.
You can tweet by
- text message. To setup your twitter account to receive your text messages, go the devices section of your twitter settings. Give twitter your phone number and then enter the confirmation code that they’ll text you. Once it’s set up, text 40404 to tweet. Include #clevelandspecials in the text of your tweet if you’re tweeting about a special.
- on the web from http://twitter.com. Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a big, beckoning box just waiting for you.
For a novice, I recommend sticking with these two methods. If you only use twitter to tweet specials, then you’ll certainly never need to do anything more complicated. If you explore twitter more deeply then you’ll find that there are countless additional ways of tweeting, each with its own advantages.
- tweet in style from Twoogie
- power twitter users may appreciate a dedicated desktop twitter client like Twhirl
- tweet directly from facebook. This requires setting up an account with a third website: Switchabit.
Hey! It didn’t work.
Sorry. I guess this should really be labeled “beta.” I haven’t tested it extensively. That said, I think I’ve ironed out most of the kinks. The only problems I’ve run into recently are when I texted a tweet that was too long. That’s really a result of my phone’s behavior more than anything and I’m not sure what can be done about it except to make sure my tweets are shorter in the future. If a restaurant has several specials, I suggest using more than one text message.
How do I read about specials?
There are several ways.
- You can see restaurant specials announcements from @clevespecials‘ twitter page ( http://twitter.com/clevespecials) You don’t need to be a twitter member to do this.
- If you are a twitter member, you can “follow” @clevespecials. Just click the “follow” button on @clevespecials’ twitter page.
- You can set your twitter settings so that updates are sent to your mobile device. Go to the devices section of your twitter sections. Choose “on” under “device updates.” Go back to the list of people that you’re following and choose which updates will get sent to your phone.
- You can subscribe to the RSS feed for @clevespecials ( http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/24655978.rss) in your favorite newsreader. If you’re already using a newsreader, then a properly configured web browser should handle everything gracefully if you click on that url. You can find that same link on @clevespecials’ twitter page and click on it there. Alternately, you can copy it and paste it in your newsreader at the appropriate place. You don’t need t be a twitter member to do this.
Any of those methods should suffice if you’re only using twitter to follow restaurant specials or a small number of other tweeters. If you become a power twitter user you may like a dedicated twitter tool.
For whatever it’s worth, I use a combination of text messages and digsby. In addition to twitter, digsby notifies me of any facebook events or emails.
I’ve got the restaurant special tweeting spirit. What more can I do?
Encourage your favorite chefs and restaurant owners to twitter. A typical patron won’t have the chance to tweet the specials until 6:30 but the chefs could do it hours earlier and there’s a much greater chance that someone could plan to visit. Twitter is a great way for them to maintain a relationship with their patrons. Web sites need patrons to remember to visit. Twitter goes to the patrons. And announcing specials is a great way to draw your regulars in more often. I know where I’ll end up if I’m choosing between one good restaurant that probably has something special and another good restaurant that has white gulf shrimp, crispy grit cakes, cantampalos and tomato jam as an appetizer.
If you’d like to give chefs and restaurant owners a small card with a link to this explanation , I’d be happy to mail you a couple. I use similar cards to give people the URLs to my blog and flickr page and they frequently draw compliments. They look nice. Email me your address and I’ll drop them in the mail.
Why a retweeting robot? Can’t people just search twitter?
This is a lot easier. Millions of people twitter and I bet most of them don’t even know that you can search. It’s not linked from the main page.
It’s also not automatic. A person could subscribe to the RSS feed for the search but, again, there are very few RSS consumers relative to the the broader community of internet users. This would also require an extra step if someone wanted mobile alerts.
The easiest way to follow things on twitter is to follow things on twitter.
How does @clevespecials work?
It’s a souped up blog and a Yahoo! Pipe. So when Yahoo!’s stock finally falls of a cliff, expect this to stop working. The Yahoo! pipe hoovers the rss feed for @clevespecial and tidies it up. Courtesy of a handy plugin, the blog sucks in the fresh, new RSS feed. WP-O-Matic seems purpose built for spammers, but I use it for this and a few other perfectly honorable features of my personal blog. Then courtesy of another handy plugin, the blog tweets. There are several twitter plugins for WordPress. The one that worked for me was Tweetly Updater.
Is there anything that we probably don’t want to know but that you feel like getting off your chest?
Thanks for asking. You can also direct message @clevespecials. I don’t know why you’d want to do this. Are you ashamed that you ate at Pol Pot’s House O’ ‘Cue? Consider this an experimental feature. I’m 90% sure it works but also 90% sure that public tweets are faster. Also there are a variety of methods for tracking #clevelandspecials instead of @clevespecials and your direct messages will be hidden from anyone who does that. I don’t know why they would want to do that, but you never know.
What are some other cool things I can do with twitter?