Adding emoji to our social media 👍

When we first started the café, I tried to find a service that would synchronize our daily tweets on @tuihanacafe to our Facebook page.  This would mean that whether you just followed us on Twitter, or on Facebook, you wouldn’t miss anything.

After trialling a few services, we found one which seemed to do the job, but had two major flaws:

  • It wasn’t quick enough, so a tweet would randomly appear on our Facebook page in the wee hours of the morning
  • Any images we uploaded to Twitter would just appear as a very spam looking link (for example, something like http://bit.ly/2runm3h) so customers would ignore this.

My daily job is I own 3Bit, and we’re a software development company, so I knew I could develop something to do exactly what I wanted.

After a few weekends, I had a basic system developed that would check our Twitter feed every 5 minutes and upload the tweet and image to Facebook. A change I made a few months later was to move away from one big folder on Facebook (for example, Café Updates) to monthly folders (Jan 2017, Feb 2017 etc).  The reason for this was customers would sometimes like the folder, not the actual status update. Moving to separate folders meant they could like the status or the folder – the like would still register.

A few years later we moved onto Instagram, so I extended my system.  It would check Instagram every 5 minutes, and upload the status and image to Twitter.  My existing system would then check Twitter, and upload this to Facebook. Not ideal, but it did the job.

All was well, until emojis came along.

If one of my staff posted an update on Instagram, with any emoji, my system couldn’t handle it, so would send a bunch of ??? to Twitter and Facebook.  Not ideal.

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It was at the same time I wanted to fix up the sync, so Instagram would post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time, rather than going to Twitter then Facebook.

In technical terms, I had to update my system to support Unicode.  After a lot of coffee, two days of head scratching, and lots of testing, Unicode support was in, and emoji support now works like a champ.

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All this effort for emoji! 😀