Google+ turned two years old on Friday. Following its launch, a public API was made available in September 2011, but for most developers this API is read-only. This means that you can get data out of Google+, but the only way to post something on Google+ is to use Google’s own apps.
Consequently, if I wanted to cross-post a blog entry between here and Google+, I would have to write it in Google+ and then have a WordPress plugin such as The Google+ Plugin cross-post it on here, and not the other way around. This is awkward as I’d then have to log into WordPress to manually add tags, categories and the like.
But some select developers have been given that all-important write access to Google+, and two of these – dlvr.it and HootSuite – will allow you to cross-post content from a blog to Google+. dlvr.it is a premium service that you will need to pay for, but HootSuite uses a ‘freemium’ model, and thankfully the tool we need is available to those with a free account. So, here’s how to use HootSuite to cross-post your blog entries to Google+.
Step 1: Create a Google+ page
Here’s where you will hit the first big caveat. HootSuite can only write to Google+ Pages, and not to your own profile. So, in my case, I created a Neil Turner’s Blog Google+ Page. To create yours, start here – I went with ‘Other’ as the category.
Step 2: Sign up for HootSuite and link your account
If you’re not already using HootSuite, create an account, and then add your Google account to it. HootSuite will detect that you manage a Google+ page and allow you to add it.
Step 3: Add your blog’s RSS feed to HootSuite
In HootSuite, click the cog on the left-hand side and choose Settings. Select the ‘RSS/Atom’ section, and then click the ‘+’ sign to add a new feed. Type in your feed’s URL – this is http://example.com/feed on most WordPress blogs – and then make sure your Google+ page is selected under ‘Networks to send feed items to’. You can, of course, add other accounts like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn here if you wish.
You can select how often the feed is checked for new posts, up to hourly. I only post once a day normally so I left this at 6 hours. Click ‘Save Feed’.
…and you’re done
The next time you post a new entry on your blog, a short time afterwards HootSuite will detect a change in your RSS feed and update Google+ for you.
Whilst I dispute some of the engagement figures, there is no denying that Google+ is becoming more popular – particularly as it takes pride of place on many Android handsets. So it’s important to have a presence on there, and this makes it just that little bit easier.