Elgan: How to automate Google+

A cool new Web service, plus an exclusive hack, let you do amazing tricks with Google's social network

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Here's what you need to know about formatting and addressing emails you send as Google+ posts.

Only what's in the body will be posted. The Subject content will be ignored.

You determine who sees each post by adding with a "circle address" that starts with a plus sign, followed either by the name of your circles or by an email address. For example, to address your message to a circle called "Nuclear Family," start your message in the body of the email with +Nuclear Family followed by a space and then start your actual post. You can add multiple addresses, each starting with a plus sign and separated by a space. To address to email addresses, simply begin with a plus sign followed by the address, as in: +mike@elgan.com.

Here's an example email body for a post that will be posted publicly on Google+, and will also be delivered to my mom:

"+Public +mom@elgan.com I've just been named Employee of the Month at work again! (The fact that I work from home has NOTHING to do with it!)"

Note that in the public post, the email address will be replaced with asterisks for privacy.

The upper limit on post size is about 450 characters, including spaces and addressing. Any links you include will be made live in your post.

Note that if you send an SMS to Google+ without addressing with a + line, it will default to being addressed to all the people in your circles.

And now the fun really begins

My email hack functions as a Google+ input for all that IFTTT magic.

At this point, you're probably thinking that I'm going to tell you some great ways to use IFTTT via email. You'd be wrong. You're going to tell me!

I'm calling on all readers of this column, and all my Google+ friends, to go and create automated tasks using Google+ and IFTTT -- and then share your "recipes" with me. You'll probably want to use the email hack. But if you can come up with ways to automate Google+ without it, that's OK, too.

Contact me by clicking the "send an email" button on my Google+ profile. (Please circle me, too!)

In next week's column, I'll announce the winners of this contest, share your recipes with the world, and also offer some additional tips of my own for automating Google+.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free email newsletter, Mike's List.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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