Use a Google Spreadsheet to make any twitter account you own (your own or a second character account) to regularly tweet out messages formed by random combinations of words.

Our  goal is create an ongoing conversations with our own accounts or others in #netnarr. An intent of this make is to explore the influence we can have in social media by both human and automated means, plus what can happen when we are communicating online, but perhaps not sure if we are responding to a person or a software agent. And also, we want to experiment with how to generate messages that make our character accounts seem real.

You can see a few bots created by previous #netnarr participants at

We will use Zach Whalen’s Google Spreadsheet Twitter bot method — you only need a google account to set one up.

  1. Follow Zach’s steps starting at General Setup Instructions by clicking the link to make a copy of his spreadsheet in your own Google Drive
  2. Skip his step 1 since you already have a twitter account (make sure you are logged into it). To create the bot you will need to make sure you have a mobile phone number associated with your account. This can be a tricky step if your phone is associated with another account. You can recycle your own mobile number from your regular twitter account by texting “stop” to 40404, and then re-use your number for your new account (you can repeat this step later to remove the phone number from your bot’s account)
  3. Follow the directions in Zach’s Step 2 to set up a new Twitter app at (this creates an ability for the spreadsheet to tweet out under your account). When the form asks for a Website, you can enter your blog URL.
  4. Go back to the new spreadsheet you created and follow the steps there to set up the API keys and app settings.
  5. For Step 6 in the spreadsheet, use the menu option for Select From Columns

Now let’s pause. That’s the setup. What  you want to think about now is a sentence structure for the tweets that our sheet will send that has a pattern to allow use of multiple words randomly chosen for parts of the tweet. We also want to make sure one of those random things is the twitter names of people in our class, so we mention people or invite them to respond. And also, to make it relevant to the project/assignment you are working on,

Let’s say my mission is to advocate for the human attribute of bots. My sentence structure might be something like:

[opening conjecture calling out] [twitter name] [Opening part of question][object of question, people] to [do some kind of action?] #netnarr

Try to come up with a pattern that sounds conversational. Look at the structure of one made for @rebegmaestro

The idea is that the tweets would work with any combinations of words from the columns. Note that if you out a single row in (like the #netnarr) hash tag it will be used in every message. Create enough options to make your bot not sound so… robotic. And also, one column should include your classmates, try to draw them into the conversations. You can find them in one of the Twitter Lists or just by perusing the #netnarr hashtag in twitter.

We can run some tests before we send our bot tweeting. Go to the Preview tab. Select Generate Preview from the Bot menu to see how your tweets will look. Check to make sure there are no odd syntaxes or awkward grammar.

If it looks okay, select Send a Test Tweet from the Bot menu. Check your own tweet to ensure your bot is posting.

Return to the Setup tab of the spreadsheet and under Step 8 select an interval for your tweets to be sent– we suggest 4, 6 or 8 hours so you are not annoying.

Finally set it in motion, by select Start posting tweets from the Bot menu. Note that you can update, edit the columns at any time.

Now your bot is tweeting.

  • Respond to all tweets that mention you or your bot.
  • Follow up your own tweets, or include in between the bot tweeted messages, your own manually authored tweets to add links, media, commentary.
  • Be nice. Do not insult or berate others. You assert your position by positive tweets, not negative.

If your bot is sounding repetitive, try adding more word choices to your columns, or reducing the frequency of tweeting to every 8 or 12 hours.

Use as an example response to this make one link to your bots tweets,

Example for "Give a Twitter Account A Bot Voice":

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1 Response for this Make

  • Vlada's Voice…
    by vladaslaughter (@vladaslaughter))

    So…. Creating this bot was a lot of trouble this time around tbh. This experience was fraught with technical difficulties and weird technical mishaps??? (My project key copied wrong into my callback URL and wasn’t noticed until a message popped up informing me of an authorization error??) Anyway, I managed to get it up an more… »

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This work by Alan Levine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1.  #NetNarr Week 11: Meet / Be The Bots – #netnarr

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