How To Automate #Twitch Streams on Google Plus

I don’t stream a lot, for sale but when I do I like to announce it where I live, which is primarily Twitter and of course Google Plus. Setting up the stream, however, can be a chore:

  1. ┬áRemember to set the name of the stream and the game on the Twitch website. Some clients allow you to do this, but not enough do. Forgetting to change the name of the stream to the current game can lead to confusion when…
  2. …You announce that you’re going live through social media. Twitch has Facebook and Twitter integration, but you have no control over the text that the service puts out there except through the title of the broadcast. Naturally, if you have one title but are streaming something different…well, tragedy ensues.
  3. For those of us who use Google Plus, there’s a manual step for announcement because Google — in its infinite and unquestionable logic Praise Be To Google — doesn’t have a full public API for the service. So we have to start the stream, and then compose a post with the URL to the stream, while the stream is running. Yes, boo friggin hoo, but in a First World society, these are the things that matter. Sadly.

So here’s a way to hack it. Kinda.

You Will Need:

  • A Twitch account! If you didn’t expect this, stop reading now.
  • A Google Plus account! If you’re breathing, you have one, even if you only make smart-ass remarks about it to look cool to your friends (and I use that term in the loosest possible way).
  • A Twitter account! If you are streaming and don’t have a Twitter account, this may be why no one watches your videos. Just sayin’s all.
  • A Google Voice account! Wait, what?
  • An IFTTT account! Because really, why the hell not, right? If registering a new account, use the same Gmail email address you have assigned to your Plus and Voice accounts. This is important!
  • Post-It Notes! Seriously.

Step One: The Convoluted Part

I’m not going to re-iterate the steps involved here because someone has taken the time to write it out, and I’m not going to steal his thunder.

The short version is that you need to use Google Voice to accept text messages, to have those text messages sent to your Gmail account so you can determine the email address that SMS notifications to the Google Voice service are sourced from. This email is the linchpin to the whole operation, because sending an email to this address will auto-post the contents of the email to your Google Plus stream if you have the “Post from SMS” enabled in Google Plus.

Protect this info with your life. Then check out Bamajr’s instructions and return here when you’re done.

Step Two: IFFTTFTFTFTFTFTFTTFFFFFT

IFTTT (If This Then That) is an automated service that “does logic” on “stuff”. I’ve found it to be potentially useful, but there’s always just one really useful option missing from the available building blocks. At first, I didn’t see how I would make this service work for this purpose, but then it dawned on me, and it can dawn on you too if you just. Keep. Reading…

Here’s the recipe:

If new tweet by @YOUR_TWITTER_HANDLE with hashtag #streaming, then send an email from YOURNAME@gmail.com

And the long, drawn out version:

  • THIS: Search or scroll to the Twitter condition. It may ask you to authorize IFTTT to access your Tweeter, so do that. It’ll then offer you a trigger. The service will only parse YOUR Tweets, and I was dissapointed to see a lack of “contains specific text”, like “twitch.tv/CHANNEL_NAME” as a trigger, so I selected “New tweet by you with hashtag”. I opted to use #streaming because that’s what it’s about. I could have chosen #chocolatesparrow or something. Make sure it’s something you don’t use often, though, or else you’ll spam The Plus.
  • THAT: Search or scroll to the Gmail action. NOT THE EMAIL ACTION. You will need to connect your Gmail account (same one used for Plus and Voice). The only action is to “Send an email” from the Gmail account.
  • TO: Add in the funky address you stole from the SMS email that was sent to your Gmail account from Google Voice. It should look like ###########.####.[BUNCH_OF_JUNK]@txt.voice.google.com.
  • SUBJECT: Whatever. The Plus doesn’t care about the subject
  • BODY: Clear the default text and click the “+” in the upper right corner of the entry box. You’ll get a Twitter token selector which allows you to auto-enter stuff from the Tweet that triggered the action (pretty slick!). I added “Twitch Streaming Time! {{Text}} +Public” for the body of my email. This includes the link to the Twitch stream. If you want to omit the contents of the Tweet, then enter your custom text and choose {{FirstLinkURL}} to add just the Twitch URL. The explanation of what The Plus recognizes in an email body is covered in Bamajr’s instructions.
  • Save it! IFTTT will now monitor your Twitter account for any Tweets by you with the hashtag #WHATEVER_YOU_PICKED, will send an email to the funky long email address, Voice will convert it to an SMS and forward it to The Plus to compose a new post on your behalf using the BODY content of the email as the content of the post.

Step Three: Post-It Notes

This is probably the weakest link in the whole process. Remember how we had that chat about how Twitch doesn’t allow custom Twitter announcements? Remember how I instructed you to use IFTTT to watch for a Twitter hash-tag in your “Going Live” Tweet? Remember how we laughed at all those times we started streaming, but the title of the stream didn’t match the content?

On your Post-It, write yourself a note to always change the stream name, and to include #WHATEVER_YOU_PICKED as your hashtag trigger.

The logic, naturally, is that the title of the stream is what’s Tweeted, so by including the hashtag in the title, it’ll be available for IFTTT to catch. The catch is that you have to remember to update the title of the stream before the announcement goes out, which means before you start streaming. Change it after you press the “Go Live” button, and it’s all for naught.

You can include anything you want, either hard-coded and universally added in the body of the email, or in the title of the Twitch stream, and Plus will take it, but it won’t provide the “remote content footer” format that adding a link to a new post via the Plus web UI normally does. The downside is that you’ll get an email to your Gmail, and an SMS to your Google Voice account every time this trips, so if you’re really fussy about having stuff lying around, you’ll have to create a rule in Gmail to auto-dispose of those messages, and clean up your Google Voice mailbox regularly.