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This manual assumes you have already installed Twando. The below combined with the text help found within your actual Twando installation covers pretty much everything you'll ever need to know. A word of warning; although it's very simple to use, Twando does a lot of stuff.

1) Registering Your Application

  • Once installed, the first step you must complete is to register your Twando application with Twitter. The homepage of your install will guide you through this process in full, complete with screenshots of the required steps. It's really very easy to do and once complete you will be able to enter your Consumer Key and Consumer Secret in the text boxes provided. You can edit these values at any time from the homepage of your install if required. Top tip: Only read and write access is required in your Twitter application settings to use Twando (this access level allows the sending of DMs also).

2) Authorizing a Twitter Account

  • You can authorize as many Twitter accounts as you like with your application; simply click the large "Sign in with Twitter" button. Top tip: If you are signed into a Twitter account that has already been authorized, Twitter will simply re-auth your application for that account (it won't give you the option to sign out of Twitter first). Therefore, when authorizing a new account, you should always ensure you are either signed out of all Twitter accounts on the Twitter website, or signed into the account you wish to authorize.

3) Setting Up Cron Jobs

  • After you have authorized your Twitter accounts, you should set up the cron jobs as soon as possible so this is taken care of. There are two cron jobs that need to be set up; full instructions on how to set these up can be found by clicking the 'Cron Job Instructions' link, under the 'Extras' menu. Don't have access to local cron jobs and need a remote cron job service? Click here to sign up with EasyCron. The cron_follow.php script logs who has followed and unfollowed your accounts, as well as taking care of the auto follow/unfollow, auto DM and slow mass following functionality. The script is designed to throttle requests for accounts with a large number of friends and followers. It's recommended to run it once per day.
  • The cron_tweet.php script powers the scheduled and recurring tweets functionality. Any tweets posted for a time equal to or less than the current time will be posted when the cron job is run, so how often you run this cron job depends on how many tweets you have to post and how close to the time you specify you need to post them. Normally running this cron job every five minutes would be reasonable. It's always preferable to run cron jobs locally from your own hosting account, but if for some reason your host doesn't support this, you can also call the cron jobs using a remote cron job service.
  • It is not recommended to run the cron scripts directly via a browser as they can take several minutes to complete; for large accounts they could take in excess of one hour so make sure you set up cron jobs to run these scripts.

4) Follows Section

To access the follow / unfollow settings for any of your authorized Twitter accounts, simply navigate to the options under the "Follows" heading in the navigation bar.

4.1) Auto Follow Settings

  • Auto Follow Back
    Depending on the option selected, Twando will automatically follow back your followers for this account when the follow cron job is run. Selecting "all followers" from the drop down means that all followers of this account will be followed back. Selecting "new followers only" means that only new followers will be followed back. This can be very useful if you have a positive difference between your followers and who you are following and want to maintain this by only following back new followers.
  • Auto Unfollow
    If selected, Twando will check who you are following against who is following you and automatically unfollow anyone who's not following you when the follow cron job is run.
  • Send Auto DM
    If you want to send an Auto DM to your followers (when you automatically follow them back), you can select that here and fill in your message in the "Auto DM" text box. This message supports all Twando custom tweet expressions (see the Tweet Custom Expressions section for more information).

4.2) Follow Exclusions

  • Twando allows you to specify unfollow exclusions; these come into play if you are using the "Auto unfollow users who are not following you" option detailed above. Any Twitter accounts you specify here will not be unfollowed automatically; this is really useful for example if you run Twando on your main personal Twitter account, but there are certain people you follow that you don't want to automatically unfollow. You can add as many exclusions as you require and then delete them later if you wish. When adding an exclusion, there is a checkbox titled "Follow these users on Twitter now?" which as the name suggests will follow the users you submit on Twitter. You can therefore use this screen to mass follow a list of Twitter users; there is even an additional checkbox which appears so you can mass follow on Twitter without needing to add the users to your exclusion list. You can also select to add the users to the slow follow/unfollow cron list (see below) rather than follow/unfollow instantly (following new users too quickly is an easy way to get your account banned).
  • You can also add follow exclusions based on the List action drop down which work in exactly the same way, except that the users listed will never be followed back, even if they follow your account and you are set to auto follow back based on the settings above.
  • Finally, the Delete from list drop down allows you to specify a time when the exclusion is automatically removed. This can be incredibly useful when following new users on Twitter. For example you could follow 100 accounts and add them all as unfollow exclusions for any period of time (say 7 days). After 7 days, anyone who's not followed you back can then be automatically unfollowed by Twando when the exclusion is removed.

4.3) Search to Follow

Twando allows you to search for new users to follow and mass follow these users with two clicks. Top tip: Mass following too quickly is a very easy way to get your Twitter account banned.

  • Tweet Based Search
    This method searches for users who have tweeted about a particular topic; for example searching for "Sergio Aguero" would display users who posted about this. The Twitter API supports several different options for tweet based searches such as the language of the tweet and the time period to search for tweets from; these options are available in Twando on this page.
  • User Based Search
    This method is slightly different in that it searches user data (screen name, full name, description etc); searching here for "Sergio Aguero" would bring up his official account as well as the various parody accounts using his name and so on.
  • User Lookup Search
    This method allows you to lookup any user by screen name. You'll then be able to follow any followers of that user, anyone that user is following or members of any list belonging to that user.

Once the search is complete, tick the checkbox underneath the users you want to follow (there is a "Select all users" link to select them all) and click the "Follow Users" button to follow the selected users. You can also select to add the users to the slow follow cron list (see below) rather than follow instantly (following new users too quickly is an easy way to get your account banned). Top tip: You can combine mass following with adding accounts to the always follow list for a set period of time as detailed above, all from the "Search to Follow" screen.

5) Slow Mass Following

  • At various points in the Follows section, you can add Twitter users to follow (or unfollow) to the cron queue, rather than instantly following them on Twitter. Twitter has several (unpublished) limits in place to prevent accounts mass following new users too quickly, so this system aims to allow mass following in a safer way.
  • The slow follow queue is part of the cron_follow.php script so runs when that script runs. The system will calculate how quickly to follow the list of new accounts (based on a 24 hour limit of 1000 follows) and pause in between each follow.
  • The pause between each follow is purposely not consistent. In addition, Twando sorts the slow follow list in order that requests for different Twitter accounts can be processed concurrently (rather than going account by account which would be much slower). Consequently (for example) processing 1000 new follows for 10 different accounts won't take much longer than 1000 new follows for a single account.
  • To prevent the cron follow script taking too long unnecessarily, after a certain amount of consecutive failed follows (or unfollows), Twando will give up until the next running of the cron. If Twando encounters deleted or suspended users on your follow list, these are ignored and a follow attempt won't be attempted again for them unless you manually add them back to the slow follow list via the pages in the Follows section (as detailed above).
  • Please note that it's called a slow follow queue for a reason; mass following will significantly extend the time taken to run the cron_follow script, possibly to in excess of 24 hours depending on the number of users in the follow queue.
  • Please also note that this is absolutely not a guarantee that Twitter won't block your account for mass following, however by utilising this system you're likely to be able to follow far more users automatically before this happens.
  • All actions are logged in the Follow Logs so you'll be able to see exactly how many accounts were followed and any API errors once the cron has run.

6) Tweets Section

To access the tweet settings for an authorized Twitter account, simply use the "Tweets" navigation heading. There are then several options available which are detailed below.

6.1) Post Quick Tweet

  • Although Twando is certainly not intended as a replacement for your Twitter client of choice, or even the Twitter web interface, the ability to simply post a quick tweet from your account is included. This is also useful for checking your account is working as expected. This message box supports all Twando custom tweet expressions (see the Tweet Custom Expressions section for more information) as well as media uploaded to your media library (see the Media Library section for more information).

6.2) Scheduled Tweets

  • This section shows all currently scheduled tweets and allows more tweets to be scheduled for a particular time. The scheduled tweet cron posts scheduled tweets from before or exactly the time the cron is run, so the post time may not be exactly the same as the time you specify depending on how often you run the tweet cron job. Tweet custom expressions and media uploads are fully supported both via the web form and CSV uploads.
  • Scheduled tweet CSV uploads must contain exactly 3 columns; column 1 should contain the tweet time in MySQL format (YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM), column 2 the tweet text and column 3 any media ID's (specify 0 for the media ID if not posting any images/videos). Top tip: Spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel will sometimes convert the date into an incorrect format; it's therefore recommended to create your csv in a text editor such as Notepad if you are doing this manually.

6.3) Recurring Tweets

  • This section is very similar to scheduled tweets above, except that tweets here will repeat based on a period of days, hours and minutes specified. By combing recurring tweets with tweet custom expressions, it's possible to create a large variety of automated content.
  • Recurring tweet CSV uploads must contain exactly 6 columns; column 1 should contain the first post tweet time in MySQL format (YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM), column 2 the tweet text, column 3 any media ID's (specify 0 for the media ID if not posting any images/videos) and columns 4,5 and 6 the days, hours and minutes between each tweet respectively.
  • Top tip: To pause a recurring tweet without deleting it, simply edit and set the time to first post for some distant time in the future.

7) Tweet Custom Expressions

Twando now supports powerful custom expressions for tweet content as detailed below. Custom expressions can be applied to all tweet related content, including quick tweets, auto dm messages, scheduled tweets and recurring tweets (including all CSV uploads).

7.1) Core Expression Format

  • In summary, the basic format for random word placement is [%word1|word2|word3%]. The opening and closing square brackets with percentage signs [%%] indicate the start and end of the expression. The pipe character | separates the different variations possible.
  • There's no limit to the number of variations per expression or the number of expressions per block of tweet content which means you can create some quite powerful random content.
  • For example, you could have content along the lines of [%Good Morning|G'day|Top of the morning to ya%], it's a [%rainy|sunny|snowy|hurricane like|very stormy%] day today, isn't it?. Remember, you can use custom expressions anywhere within Twando where tweet content is stored.
  • For advanced users, Twando even supports nesting of expressions, for example [%outer 1|outer 2|outer 3|[%inner 1|inner 2| inner3%]%] will work just fine. You can nest multiple levels; Twando will evaluate the expressions from the inner most outwards.

7.2) Special Variables

  • Twando also supports a number of special variables you can include in tweets; note these are enclosed with a square bracket and double percentage (rather than single percentage as above), e.g. [%%VARIABLE_NAME_HERE%%]
  • The full list is as follows:
    [%%DATE_DAY%%] - current day (e.g. Saturday)
    [%%DATE_DAY_NUM%%] - current numeric day of month (e.g. 25)
    [%%DATE_MONTH%%] - current month (e.g. September)
    [%%DATE_YEAR%%] - current year (e.g. 2021)
    [%%DATE_TIME%%] - current time (e.g. 2:26pm)
    [%%RAND_100%%] - random number between 0 and 100 (e.g. 36)
  • There are also several variables available for Auto DM messages (based on the data available for the user who is receiving the DM):
    [%%USER_SCREEN_NAME%%] - users screen name (e.g. jonhudghton)
    [%%USER_ACTUAL_NAME%%] - users actual name (e.g. Jon Hudghton)
    [%%USER_ACTUAL_NAME_FIRST%%] - first part of users actual name, split based on space character (e.g. Jon)
    [%%USER_ACTUAL_NAME_LAST%%] - last part of users actual name, split based on space character (e.g. Hudghton)
    [%%USER_LOCATION%] - displayed location for the user (e.g. Manchester). NB, not all accounts have a value set for this
  • Is Twando missing a special variable you would find useful? Feel free to get in touch and it may be possible to add it to the next release.

8) Media Library

All images and videos for Twando are managed via the media library. Here you can upload files which will then be assigned an internal ID. This ID can the be used alongside any tweet content (including CSV uploads) to post media with your tweets.

8.1) Uploading Files

  • Uploading media files is quick and easy; simply use the upload box on the Media Library page to select the files you wish to upload.
  • For speed, you can select multiple files at one time and upload them all simultaneously.
  • Twando does a number of validation checks against file types and sizes, but this isn't a guarantee your file will post successfully when sent to the Twitter API. In particular, video files have a number of constraints which Twando doesn't attempt to check against. More information is available in the Twitter API Documentation.

8.2) Using Media ID's

  • Once uploaded, the associated media ID's for files can be used anywhere you're posting tweets (including CSV uploads).
  • Twitter supports up to 4 images per tweet; to add multiple images simply separate ID's with a dash - e.g. 23-12-34-1
  • Much like custom expressions (detailed above), Twando also supports random image selection based on the pipe symbol | e.g. 23|12|34 will randomly select one of the 3 specified media ID's when the tweet is sent to the API.
  • It's absolutely possible to combine multiple images with randomisation; for example 23-11-12|12|34-3-4|3-5|7 will be evaluated as expected based on the random selection first, followed by the posting of multiple images (if required).
  • Any media ID's Twando can't locate when a tweet is posted (for example if the media has since be deleted from the library) are simply ignored.

9) Logs Section

  • This section simply displays all follow and tweet cron logs for the selected account. Full details of individual users can be obtained by clicking on the users profile image; this will open the cache explorer as detailed below.
  • Logs can also be purged if required based on a selected timeframe.

10) Cache Explorer

  • The user cache (shared between all Twitter accounts you authorize with Twando) is a key part of Twando's functionality. Here a record is kept of all user accounts Twando has interacted with, such as during auto follow/unfollow or when searching for new users to follow.
  • At various points throughout Twando, clicking an account profile image will open a cache overlay window. Here you can view all saved details for that account as well as send direct API requests to follow, unfollow, block, unblock, mute, unmute and so on.
  • The Cache Explorer under the Extras section allows you to view all currently cached Twitter accounts. You can also sort and search for specific accounts in the cache here.
  • The follow cron job takes care of cache management in terms of removing deleted Twitter users, removing suspended users after a time period, refreshing cached user details after a time period etc etc.
  • The 'Follow filter' options allow you to see (for the selected account) all follower relationships; for example all the Twitter accounts the selected account is following but who do not follow that account back. For speed (and to massively reduce the number of API requests needed), the relationships are based on your accounts friends and followers from the last run of the follow cron. Clicking on any user to open the Cache Explorer overlay will give a live update of the current relationship between that Twitter user and your currently selected account from the Twitter API.

11) Extras Section

As well as the media library, cron job instructions and cache explorer pages already detailed above, there are a number of other pieces of functionality contained within this section.

11.1) Multi Account Functions

  • If you have authorized more than one Twitter account with Twando, you'll then have access to some multi account functions.
  • The first is the ability to post a tweet from all your accounts simultaneously. Like all tweet posting on Twando, this fully supports custom expressions and media uploads (all detailed above).
  • In addition, you can also bulk follow and unfollow Twitter accounts from all your authorized accounts simultaneously via this screen.

11.2) View Rate Limits

  • This page simply shows the currently available rate limits for the currently selected Twitter account. This is intended for advanced users who wish to monitor remaining API requests.