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How I publish from Google+

How I publish from Google+

Technology broadcaster Leo Laporte had me on his show, This Week in Tech (TWiT), recently. I mentioned that I publish all over the Internet automatically from my Google+ stream.

I said, for example, that I publish both a daily and a weekly email newsletter without doing anything. It just happens. Everything I write on Google+ is automatically posted on Twitter and Facebook, and it's made available as an RSS feed.

This is part of the appeal of Google+. It's the only service I'm aware of where you can do just about everything -- publish, chat, email and blog. You can even use it as a social network.

Since I mentioned my system on TWiT, I've been flooded with inquiries from people who want to know how to do it, starting with the other two guests on the show. So I decided to explain in detail how I do all this.

Generate an RSS feed from Google+

Google itself does not generate RSS feeds from public posts, for some reason. But independent services do.

The best one that I'm aware of is called Pluss Feed Proxy for Google+. To use it, visit the site and click "Login with Google." It will give you a URL for your RSS feed.

But wait! We're not done yet. I believe the RSS feeds generated by this and other such services work in most RSS readers, but not all services that use RSS do other things, such as posting on other social sites.

That's why I recommend "laundering" the RSS feed through FeedBurner.

FeedBurner is an old feed management service owned by Google. It does a lot of useful things, but for our purposes, its main benefit is to take a poorly supported RSS feed and transform it into a widely supported one.

To use it, go to the service and set up an account. Sign in with your Google password if you're not already signed in.

Paste your Pluss feed RSS URL into the "Burn a feed right this instant" box and click "Next," then "Next" again.

Copy the URL that FeedBurner gives you; that's the URL for your Google+ feed, which you can use on any site that supports RSS.

You can offer your RSS feed to readers and followers, in case they prefer to get your posts that way.

Here's what my FeedBurner RSS feed looks like.

Post on Twitter from Google+

It's easy to have everything you post on Google+ also post to Twitter. There are many services that do this, but the best one I've found is called ManageFlitter.

First, open Google+ and go to your profile. The URL should be http://plus.google.com/ followed by a long number, then /posts. That's your unique profile URL. Select and copy it.

Go to the ManageFlitter home page and click "Start." Click "Connect to Twitter." Select the "Dashboard" tab, then click "Turn on/off Google+ sharing." Paste in the URL you copied a moment ago, then click "Start Sharing."

That's it! From now on, everything you post on Google+ will be tweeted on Twitter, with a link back to the Google+ post.

Here's what my Twitter feed looks like.

Post on Facebook from Google+

There are many ways to auto-post on Facebook. None of them is perfect. Some don't post links. Others don't post pictures. Still others do both, but are flaky and unreliable.

Personally, I choose a reliable method that posts links back to the original Google+ post, but which unfortunately does not convey pictures.

I use a service called RSS Graffiti.

The service isn't perfect, but unlike most such services, it lets you post on Facebook Pages, not just Profiles.

To set up RSS Graffiti, go through the process of connecting the app to your Facebook account. It will ask you to log in to Facebook, then click "Go to App" and then "Allow."

The service is in beta, so click "OK" to opt in to the beta program.

Now click "Add New Publishing Plan," give it a clever name and click "Create Publishing Plan."

Now add your RSS feed by clicking "Add New" and pasting in your FeedBurner RSS feed URL and clicking "Add Source." Choose the post frequency, number of posts per update and the post order, then click "Save."

Under "Target," click on the item that's there if you want to specify something different (such as your Facebook Page rather than Profile).

Finally, click the slider that says "Off" so that it says "On" and you're good to go. Now your Google+ posts will show up on Facebook.

Here's what my Facebook Page looks like.

Publish an email newsletter from Google+

Publishing an email newsletter from Google+ is simple: Use your FeedBurner URL with an email list service that supports RSS.

I use MailChimp for sending out my email newsletters.

To set up your own, go to MailChimp, set up an account if you don't have one, and click the big red "Create Campaign" button, then select "RSS-Driven Campaign" from the menu that drops down.

Paste in your FeedBurner feed URL, choose the frequency and time of day you'd like your email newsletter to go out, then click "Next."

From that point on, it's simply a matter of clicking through the step-by-step process of setting up a list, setting up the newsletter, choosing a template and so on.

Once set up, the newsletter simply goes out by itself.

Here's what my daily email newsletter looks like.

What's so great about publishing from Google+

None of the existing methods and services produces posts that are formatted as well as if you were to post them manually. Google+ is still in its early days, and I expect future tools to work better.

However, I think it's best to use automated tools anyway, accept the formatting limitations for now, and focus like a laser beam on Google+.

By using only Google+ directly, and automating the distribution of your Google+ posts elsewhere, you will gain the following benefits:

Links will bring all your far-flung readers, fans, customers and others together on Google+, where everyone can have one big conversation, rather than scattering separate conversations all over the Internet that you have to keep track of.

Concentrating on just Google+ and setting and forgetting all the other services saves you from "social media fatigue."

Posting everything directly on Google+ enables you to cultivate a community on the fastest-growing social network while it's still in the phase where you can quickly gain a very large following.

Let's say that you have time to make 10 posts a day. You can post two on each of five services (making each follower think you post only two things a day). Or you can manually copy and paste all of your posts, and waste your time and energy interacting with people on all five services. Or, you can use my method and post 10 items a day on one service, and have automated tools post them on the other four with links back to the original. By doing that, you focus your interaction on just one service where everyone from all five services will come together for a single conversation.

Publishing from Google+ is a great idea. At least, it works for me.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free email newsletter, Mike's List. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com.


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