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Elgan: Easy automation for Google+

Brave pioneers have automated Google+ (so you don't have to)

October 8, 2011 07:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Last week, I told you about a great new service called "If This Then That" (IFTTT), which lets you automate things online. I also gave instructions on how to post on Google+ via email.

Together, these let you automatically post things to Google+. But I didn't tell you how, exactly. I announced a "contest" to see who could come up with the most useful and fun Google+ automations using IFTTT.

If you're as lazy as I am, you'll be thrilled to learn that once created, these automations -- called "recipes" -- can be shared and easily re-used by anybody. And I'll share the winning contest entries with you below.

But first, let's take a look at what this automating Google+ thing is all about.

There are two basic directions for automating Google+: incoming and outgoing. To automate is to set it up so that things are put in or taken out automatically, without you having to do anything.

How to automate Google+ output

Setting up your Google+ feed to auto-post elsewhere -- say, Facebook, Twitter or on a blog -- is easy and popular, and there are many ways to do it.

A nicely curated list of those options is maintained by a Google+ user and advocate named Johnathan Chung.

The most common options happen to be browser plug-ins, and there are many to choose from for all the major browsers.

You can also automate output via RSS. This is a simple process of plugging in the RSS feed URL for your public Google+ posts to just about any service or site that accepts RSS.

For example, I publish an email newsletter using a service called MailChimp. You can set up MailChimp to take any RSS feed and publish new content in that feed as an automated newsletter. So I publish my Google+ posts as both a daily and a weekly newsletter.

Once I set it up, it required no further action on my part. I just post things on Google+, and my thousands of readers get a newsletter via email, complete with pictures and links.

It's easy to get an RSS feed URL for your public Google+ posts. Several services enable you to simply add your unique Google+ number to the end of their service's URL. You can find your number in the URL when you're looking at your profile page.

For example, my unique Google+ number is 113117251731252114390. Here's the RSS feed for my public Google+ posts on three services:

PlusFeed: http://plusfeed2.appspot.com/113117251731252114390

gPlusFeed: http://gplusfeed.herokuapp.com/113117251731252114390

Dlvr.it: http://dlvritplus.appspot.com/113117251731252114390

There are more on Johnathan Chung's list. By simply replacing your Google+ number with mine, you'll have your RSS feed URL as well, which you can plug in to any service that accepts RSS.

Google+ output automation is easy. And now, thanks to a few brave readers and Google+ circle friends, Google+ input automation is easy, too, for the first time ever.



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