Google+ has a lot of potential as a social platform. It’s growth isn’t surprising considering the leverage Google has. 90 Millions users in under a year is a great achievement. It is likely to grow further and faster in coming months, especially as Google tie the platform more and more into it’s standard search product.
The likely beneficial search engine effects of having a presence on Google+ is drawing even more to sign up. The problem for those using these platforms for business is justifying spending time on a platform with relatively low membership. Let’s not forget Facebook has over 800 million users and some businesses are still struggling to justify an active presence.
UPDATE: Hootsuite has now introduce Google+ Pages integration directly into it’s system. Please have in mind this integration is only for Google+ Business Pages currently and doesn’t allow you to manage a personal account through Hootsuite.
The Google+ Challenge
The challenge therefore is to not get left behind if the inevitable happens and Google+ becomes the social platform of choice for business.
What we need is a way you can use Google+ without it taking anymore time than you currently use updating other social platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. This will give you a chance to get used to Google+ and create an active presence, at no cost.
I have been testing a few different ways of doing this but haven’t been satisfied with the results until now. I wouldn’t usually advocate what I am about to show you, but currently it remains the best way I can find to justify using Google+. Unless your business has a social media resource that can dedicate time to new and emerging platforms.
How it Works
What we are going to do is take posts made on Google+ and then deliver these to alternate platforms, we’ll also collect analytics about our post while we are at it. So if you were going to post an item to Twitter, you could post it on Google+ instead and it would also appear on Twitter with a link back to Google+. Because Google+ allows you to post more than 140 characters, you have the ability to write far more extensively on Google+. Your post will be truncated and a link added.
Using this method not only do you save time in posting to two platforms, you potentially expose more people to your presence on Google+.
Putting it Together
To do this effectively we require two things:
- An RSS feed of your Google+ posts
- A Hootsuite account
Google+ RSS Feed
Google doesn’t naturally provide RSS feeds for posts, so we have to create one. This is the area I have spent much of my time testing. Many of the tools I have found to do this don’t produce a reliable feed, and there is no point doing this if we have to keep refreshing the feed manually.
To create your RSS feed visit your Google+ profile page. In the URL you will see a long number after the domain. This is mine below:
Append this to the following URL http://macno.org/plus2atom/. This then creates an Atom based RSS feed of your public posts, courtesy of the guys at http://macno.org.
This is only the first part, now we need to get this feed into Facebook or Twitter. Personally I prefer feeding it into Twitter as that is where I spend much more of my social media business time.
Using Hootsuite to Distribute Feeds
Over the years I have become more and more a fan of Hootsuite. At the personal end there is a free version that works on all mobile platforms. Yet it scales right up to an Enterprise version if required.
Hootsuite are currently working in partnership with Google to integrate Google+. Beta testing is only open to Enterprise users at present and comes with a hefty $1500 per month price tag. Hopefully integration will roll out to all account types eventually, in the meantime we can take advantage of the RSS feature in Hootsuite to load our newly created Google+ feed.
If you are using the free version you will need to upgrade to the $9.99 per month subscription to access this feature, but if you’re using social media professionally this shouldn’t be too much of an overhead. You could use other methods to parse your feed into Facebook or Twitter, but the additional benefit of using Hootsuite is the built in analytics. Absolutely essential for any business.
Here is how to add your feed:
That’s all there is to it. Now every time you post to Google+ it will also appear efficiently on your other social platforms.
As I said earlier, I wouldn’t normally post across platforms, but until the Google+ user base expands this is the most efficient method of taking part on the platform.