Monday, October 24, 2011

Syndicating content from Google Plus to Twitter (Bonus: & Evernote!)

Disclaimer: Before you read this and think that this is an endorsement of posting all the same content everywhere you post, absolutely not. While I still would rather be an RSS feed, for now you, can rest assured that if you follow me on Twitter or G+, I won't be spamming either platform with all of the content I feature on the other one :)

I constantly find content that doesn't necessarily suit my blog but that I think would be of value to my readers. And I would like the ability to easily (i.e. in the fewest steps possible) share it cross-platform — specifically from Google Plus to Twitter.

There are Chrome plugins which enable you to share content posted to Google plus with your Tweeps and Facebook followers. But there are 2 problems with those:
  • Facebook is personal for me: if you want to connect with me professionally, you can find me here on my blog, on Twitter, on LinkedIN and on Google Plus. I only use Facebook for keeping touch with family and friends and they don't care so much about geek stuff, so I don't need that functionality.
  • I don't just want something that enables me to share an existing post, I want to create a new post and share it simultaneously when I post to Google Plus.
So as I mentioned, there are Chrome plugins which allow you to share cross-platform, but those require you use Chrome, and I wanted a solution I could use via mobile too.

Enter Twittermail

Earlier, I set up Google Plus to enable me to send articles from G+ to Evernote using my Evernote email address. Basically:
  1. I set up a Google Plus circle containing only my Evernote email address and no one else. 
  2. If I want to Evernote some G+ content I come across for reading or blogging later, I share the post to my Evernote circle and it gets logged in my default Evernote notebook.
Simple, eh? But Evernote comes with an email address.

I tried to find a similar process for Twitter, but Twitter accounts don't have email-based posting; no Twitter email addresses. That's when I discovered Twittermail by TwitterCounter. [Caveat: I'm not necessarily a fan of endorsing third-party plugins for Twitter and Facebook, due to lack of privacy controls but in this case, I already had a Twitter Counter account.] With Twittermail, you can create a custom email address which you can email to post automatically to Twitter.

So, using the same idea as I had for Evernote, I created a Twitter circle with only that Twitter email. Now when I want to post something to Google Plus, whether in a browser or via my Droid phone, I just make sure to include my Twitter circle and bam! the post gets tweeted.

Still a bit buggy

I quickly realized that if I want to use the link function in G+ (specifically adding a link to a post instead of including it in the text of the post), Twittermail sadly excludes the URL. Twittermail settings are such that they cut off the post after two breaks; they don't capture links unless they are in the message body. So if you are sharing a link or resharing a post, you can either:
  1. share it twice: share it once to your stream and once to Twitter via your Twitter circle, but when you share to Twitter, copy the URL and put it in the comment field along with your message
  2. use the "Share On" Chrome plugin to send it to Twitter (again, this doesn't work on mobile).

Mobile Droid App Needs Better Sharing

While it's easy to create new content on the Android mobile G+ app, it frustratingly doesn't let you share an existing post; you can only +1 or comment. That's a pretty significant blocker to content sharing and syndication to other platforms. I hope that little bug gets fixed soon.

And there you go. G+ to Twitter content syndication. It takes a minute to set up but then it's crazy easy to use. And until G+ opens their API to enable sharing both ways (to and from the Twitter) this is probably the most elegant way to do it. Unless you geeks come up with something better. And if you do, make sure you leave a comment!

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