Tag Archives: Facebook

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How to Post from Google Plus to Twitter and Facebook

From More Around Mystic, CT

I have a problem: some people are following me on Twitter, some friends and family are only on Facebook, and others are using Google+. Personally, I like using Google+ most – I like the UI and using my Circles to share certain things with just family, and G+ ties into Picasa really well. I’m also probably a little biased.

I just don’t have time to manually post everything I want to share with all of these people in all three places. So I decided to write all my inane ramblings into Google+, and from there automatically update Twitter and Facebook.


Before I start, I feel like I have to add a disclaimer: Please don’t spam Twitter and FB by shoveling all sorts of autogenerated content into your feed, with no intention fo actually interacting with people. No one wants that, you will lose all your friends, and even your dog will stop loving you. Be judicious.

Here’s how you can automatically post from Google+ to Twitter:

Step 1: Get an RSS feed of your public Google+ posts.

Many sites offer RSS feeds, usually you just have to look for the little orange icon, or a link that says “subscribe”. Google+, at this point, does not – but it does offer an API, so it’s not too hard to write a Python or PHP script to convert. Actually, many developers have stepped in to offer RSS feed services – I found a good list of them here.

A word of caution: these services may be unreliable, they may come and go, developers may run out of money or go crazy and post weird stuff on everyone’s feeds. If you don’t want to take the risk, you should probably write your own code using the Google+ API or wait for Google+ to support RSS.

Step 2: Take your RSS feed and add it to FeedBurner.

FeedBurner is a feed management system run by Google. It lets you do all sorts of fun things with your RSS feeds, including posting to Twitter (Step 3). First, go to http://feedburner.google.com/, there should be a text area titles “Burn a feed right this instant. Type your blog or feed address here:”. Do that. FeedBurner will walk you through a couple of simple steps.

Step 3: Set up FeedBurner to post to Twitter.

Click the “Publicize” tab and look for the “Socialize” option in the menu. There you’ll see an option to add your Twitter account. Click the button, authorize FeedBurner in Twitter, and you are ready to go.

By the way, FeedBurner also offers some interesting analytics options so you can see how many people click through from Twitter, Facebook, or wherever else they might see your feed.

How to update Facebook too:

Actually, I already had Twitter updating Facebook – that’s easy to do, simply go to http://twitter.com/settings/profile and connect your Facebook account. This has a drawback, though, in that it squeezes my G+ posts through the 140-character wringer of Twitter before passing it on to Facebook.

Facebook does have a few apps that are able to publish an RSS feed directly to your wall. RSS Graffiti looks like a likely candidate, with lots of positive reviews, but I haven’t actually tried it. The list of permissions the app demands scared me away.

Hopefully this is useful and I’m not annoying my friends with too many reposts. If you feel the need to stop following me on Twitter since you’ve already seen my hilarious anecdotes on G+ (or vice versa), I’ll understand. I should also add that I’ll read any comments and probably reply in all three systems – I don’t want to force everyone to use G+ to talk to me.

One big drawback to this setup is that I can’t share privately across the three social networks. If I post pictures of my kid playing at the park to just my Friends and Family circles, I don’t have a way to post that to my network in Facebook. Drop me a note if you’ve figured that one out.

Units that Measure Up: From Giga-watts to Hella-tons

UC Davis physics student Austin Sendek has proposed that the prefix “hella-” be used as a standard prefix for 10^27th power. If that sentence doesn’t make much sense to you, you’re in luck – there’s an explanation in Part 1 below. If you could parse the sentence but think it’s a rather lame joke, don’t make up your mind quite yet – I’ll lay out the surprising history of some units that might make you reconsider in Part 2.

Part 1: Giga-what, giga-who?

Most of the time you and I can get by with some pretty small numbers. I might buy a 5-pound bag of flour or ask you to lend me 20 dollars, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you work in science, engineering, economics, or other similar fields you inevitably need to count or measure things that are really, really big, and you don’t want your readers to spend all their time counting digits rather than appreciating your brilliant prose.

This is why we have the International System of Units (SI) and its prefixes. When Doc Brown is pouring pilfered plutonium into a DeLorean to send it to the future, rather than wrapping Marty’s head around 1,210,000,000 watts he can simply exclaim, “1.21 gigawatts!” When Commander Data is downloading MP3s, he can say he’s got 100 petabytes to fill, rather than boring Geordi with 100,000,000,000,000,000.

But what happens when you get past peta- (10^15), exa- (10^18), zetta- (10^21) and yotta (10^24)? Right now you’re stuck. At this point we’re in the range of some ridiculously big numbers, but the universe is ridiculously big. The mass of the Earth is about 5,980,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 grams, or 5,980 yottagrams – but who’s got time for thousands of yottagrams?

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Corporate Fan Pages: When you come to a conversation, have something to say

Logo altered in protest of environmental damageSalon had an interesting post about some trouble Nestle ran into on their Facebook fan page. You can read more there, but here’s the gist: environmental groups are accusing Nestle of driving rainforest destruction through their purchase of palm oil. They buy palm oil from Indonesia, where enough forest is being cleared to threaten orangutans with extinction. Nestle has a fan page on Facebook, and orangutan lovers started posting complaints on it.

Shortly thereafter, the moderator posted:

To repeat: we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic — they will be deleted.

If you know anything about the internet, then you know that this message was the worst possible thing Nestle could have posted. It’s the Streisand Effect – if you try to hide something on the internet, it suddenly becomes a lot more interesting, and you only draw more attention to it. This is so basic to the sociology of the web that if I were hiring someone to do social media work or PR, that would be the first question in the interview.

The Salon article catalogues some interesting exchanges between the Nestle admin and Facebook users, culminating in this announcement:

Nestle: This (deleting logos) was one in a series of mistakes for which I would like to apologise. And for being rude. We’ve stopped deleting posts, and I have stopped being rude.

A trip to the fan page now shows nothing but altered logos and calls for boycott. The Salon piece concludes that the real shame of this whole exchange is that the admin acted like a human being, actually talked to people, and is probably in big trouble for it – and if not, Nestle will be less likely to do anything like this in the future, retreating to boring press releases and spokespeople.

I think the real lesson to be learned here is that when you show up to a conversation, you actually need to have something to say.

Nestle is trying to take advantage of the fact that there’s a lot of people out there who really like their milk chocolate, or really enjoy KitKat bars. They’re using social networking sites to encourage people to talk about chocolate and KitKat bars, remember how much they like them, and hopefully buy more. This all makes sense and is a lot more engaging and cost effective than TV ads and the like. But once you start people talking, you cannot control what they are going to say. That’s not how conversations work, even conversations attenuated into new formats like Facebook wall posts.

So no people are accusing you of hating cute orangutans, what do you do? You need to be able to say something:

  • We didn’t know, this is what we’re doing to fix this.
  • This isn’t true, here’s why.
  • There’s no other suppliers, but here’s what we’re working on to substitute or work around the problem.

Hell, if you think you can get away with it without losing more customers, even saying “Who cares about monkeys, we gots to have our delicious sugary snacks!” is better than saying nothing or trying to edit the conversation in progress. Having some kind of ethics really matters here.

But if you can’t say any of these things… well, just shut everything down. Stop trying to build equity in your brand and concentrate on making the cheapest candy because your company obviously doesn’t understand the point of building a brand or cultivating passionate customers.