And Now for the Twitter Connector for Groups
This article originally covered the retirement of the Twitter connector for Teams. On March 23, 2020, Microsoft announced (MC207399) that they are also retiring the Twitter connector for Office 365 Groups (referred to in the notification as the Twitter Connector feature from Outlook, Yammer and Skype Consumer). Microsoft says they will begin retiring the connector on March 24 and complete the process by March 31. It remains a mystery as to why Microsoft wishes to retire a component that functions perfectly well and works better than its suggested replacement.
Tweets Keep on Flowing Into Teams
The decision to retire the Teams Twitter connector announced in Office 365 notification MC204830 on February 26 seems odd. It’s also a retrograde step.
Apparently, Microsoft retired the connector on February 21 without telling anyone (but they do apologize for the inconvenience). As I write this note on March 8, the connector is still working in the channels where it’s configured in my tenant (Figure 1) and tweets continue to flow in as normal. It must take as long to retire features in Office 365 as it does to deploy them. Or I’m just lucky…
Go to Power Automate to Flow Tweets into Teams
The announcement blithely says: “If your organization enjoyed using the Twitter connector, we recommend using Microsoft Power Automate to integrate Twitter with Microsoft Teams.” I’m not sure that the folks who wrote that text understand the difference between injecting tweets into Teams through the connector and using Power Automate (what used to be known as Flow) for the task.
Like other connectors, the Twitter connector injects content from a network data source into a channel to inform users and potentially spark conversations in the channel (Figure 2). Each tweet is captured as a conversation and comes complete with a set of actionable buttons to like or retweet the tweet without leaving Teams or going to Twitter to view the conversation there.
Power Automating Twitter
Following Microsoft’s advice, I went to Power Automate and attempted to create the functionality available through the Twitter connector. The “Post on Microsoft Teams when a new tweet matches the specified hashtag” template seemed like a good place to start, and I duly configured it to read from Twitter using my account and post to a target channel in Teams ((Figure 3).
Alas, the results weren’t as good as those products by the Twitter connector (Figure 4). Everything is posted as me rather than the eponymous Twitter connector. The actionable buttons have disappeared and the user photos for those who post tweets are not captured. All in all, it’s a poorer experience.
Odd Decision, Poor Results
I don’t know why Microsoft decided to retire the Twitter connector for Teams. The connector is also used in Office 365 Groups and there’s no mention of its retirement there. The connector is useful, does what you expect, has added functionality over time, and the items created in channels look good.
The decision is even harder to understand when viewed in the light of a lesser replacement, but that might also be because the Power Automate template that I selected wasn’t the best for the job. Perhaps the problem is the way that the connector fetches information. Like most social media companies, Twitter is tightening up its regulations about how processes access data, and it could be that Twitter doesn’t like this connector. If so, that’s a pity.
In my copious spare time, I need to do more research to see if I can discover how to make Power Automate be nicer to Teams. Or maybe one of the Power Automate gurus will come up with a nicer solution.