How to display Instagram pictures correctly in tweets using IFTTT

If you post to Instagram and it sends a copy to Twitter then only a link appears, Twitter doesn’t display your image in the tweet. The reason is because Instagram does not support ‘Twitter cards’(1) but you can(2) bypass this by using the third party service IFTTT (If This, Then That) to get around it and display images correctly. Once you upload a new image to Instagram it will get tweeted out and display as a picture (note that it won’t work in cases where you write a tweet and include an Instagram link).

Be aware that if you have ‘post to Twitter’ switched on on your Instagram account then you may end up with two copies of the tweet – one directly from Instagram with no image (the wrong one), and the one via IFTTT with the image (the new and improved version). You can safely switch off the Instagram one (see my image below of my settings).

You will need, and to be logged into

  • a Twitter account
  • an Instagram account
  • an IFTTT account

Once logged into IFTTT visit this recipe(3) page Tweet your Instagrams as native photos and follow the instructions to ‘connect’ your Twitter (https://ifttt.com/twitter) and Instagram (https://ifttt.com/instagram) accounts – IFTTT refers to these as ‘channels’.

ifttttwitter

This will allow your Twitter and Instagram accounts can talk to each other independently, through IFTTT.

Once done it should look a bit like this and when you post an image to Instagram and it should turn up on your Twitter timeline with the picture appearing.

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It worked… [if you’re viewing on a mobile it will probably look as if it didn’t, but it did!]

Note that these are my settings on Instagram – it says that I have Twitter-sharing switched off, which is true, but the IFTTT recipe is now overriding this.

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(1)Twitter cards are basically a display-format that websites can sign up to so that pictures embed and display on Twitter as an image rather than as a link that you have to click on. The IFTTT system uploads the image to Twitter as a (usually hidden, but may show on mobile apps as a pic.twitter link and also provides a link back to the original Instagram (that link will show as iff.tt).

(2)However you might prefer that people click on the link so that your Instagram account gets the relevant metrics and you might also prefer that Twitter isn’t further overrun with images 🙂

(3)There are other examples of recipes that will also perform this function, have a search of the options and see what’s on there.

Downloading your old Twitter faves, setting up IFTTT to capture new ones

Table of Contents

  1. Capturing old favourites
  2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
  3. Useful background info

1. Capturing old favourites
To download your already-liked favourites do the following

  1. Log into Twitter
  2. Go to tweetbook.in and authorise it to access your account
  3. Select a time range, choose Favorites and create your PDF e-book of your favourited tweets

If you have as many favourites as I have (3,502 over 7 years, oops) you probably won’t be able to get them all in one go (2012 alone yielded a 134 page PDF!) but you have the option of trying to grab them all at once.

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Fig 1. Authorise Tweetbook.in with Twitter

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Fig 2. Pick a date range… or leave blank to pick all (it may fail if you have lots)

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Fig 3. Once your tweetbook is ready the green ‘Download’ button will appear

The output
Each page of the PDF has only a handful of tweets on it (it’s not very efficient) but the timestamp is hyperlinked so you can search for a tweet (Ctrl+F or Command+F to search within any document) and then find the original on Twitter.

Caution: I don’t know if it will display only public tweets that you’ve followed or, because you’ve logged in, if it can pick up any tweets from locked (private) accounts that you follow. Be aware that if you publishly share the contents you might be sharing tweets that people want kept private.

2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
You can use an IFTTT recipe so that every time you click favourite / like on a tweet it will be saved in some way of your choosing – for example you might use a Google spreadsheet to capture the tweet, or email it to yourself.

To do this… do this

  1. Log in to Twitter and Google Drive / Gmail*
  2. Visit IFTTT and create an account.
  3. This is an example of a recipe you can use:
    Twitter Likes (Favorites) to Google Spreadsheet (other recipe options available*)
  4. You’ll be taken through the steps of connecting your Google Drive as one ‘channel’ and your Twitter  account as another channel – this allows your Twitter account to save your favourites to a Google Drive spreadsheet directly (you don’t need to set that up, it happens automatically).
  5. Favourite a tweet then go and visit your Google Drive and you’ll find a new spreadsheet created with your favourite in. After 1,000 tweets the system will create a fresh spreadsheet (same name with ‘1’ appended, and so on).

*or Evernote, or some other capturing system, examples here and here

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3. Useful background info
Favouriting a tweet does not trap it permanently – if the original is deleted then you do not have a copy of it so ‘post-favouriting-processing’ would be necessary to capture it.

Other ways to capture a tweet include

  • taking a screenshot (it can be helpful to include its address / URL)
  • embedding it in a blog or Storify (in both cases subsequent deletion of the original won’t matter as your copy will remain)
  • use Freezepage to capture a copy of the ‘page’ on which the tweet appears (you need to use the tweet’s own address – you can find this in its timestamp – and remove the S from the httpS bit of the address

I’ve written a short post on ‘forensic’ use of Twitter (where you’re collecting someone’s tweets for legal reasons) but note that I’m not a lawyer so bear that in mind.

Further reading
Capturing web pages (remember a tweet IS a web page as it has its own address!) – Nightingale Collaboration