We tend to use social networks as channels that feed into each other, with certain channels for posting content and others for re-publishing it. Widgets and apps can help pull a Twitter feed to a website, or a blog RSS feed to a LinkedIn profile or Facebook profile.
The hub and spoke distribution model represents this system, with a structure that resembles wheels on a bike. The hub is at the centre of the model, connected to each spoke. The hub is the source of the data, and the spokes are the individual channels where that data is published. The hub might represent a blog or Twitter feed, and all the spokes separate social media channels.
It’s important to think strategically about how these channels work together, which channel is going to function as the “hub,” and which as the “spokes.” Obviously, creating bespoke content for each social network is the ideal, but bloggers need to be efficient, and using the hub-and-spoke approach is an efficient way of reaching a large audience through multiple platforms.
Social networks are usually happy for users to integrate feeds and streams into their profiles, making import features available or apps for importing content from elsewhere.
Google+, however, does not allow Twitter feeds, Facebook activity streams or RSS feeds to be imported. This reflects Google’s effort to ensure that the content on Google+ is always unique.
This means that managing a Google+ profile or page can require a lot of work, as updates need to be done manually. This is likely to increase the quality of posts on Google’s social network, but for marketers it creates additional work. Why post bespoke messages on each social media platform if the content and its message is the same?
Considering that feeds are a no-no with Google, using G+ as the “hub” makes a lot of sense, with other social networks being updated from a G+ feed. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t even provide the functionality to export a Google+ activity stream as an RSS feed.
Thankfully, several people have found ways to create a feed from a Google+ profile.
Working with Google+
Several services emerged last year which offered to turn a Google+ profile into an RSS feed that can be imported to other social networks. But most of the hacks that were blogged about last year don’t work any more—Google seem to be discouraging users from importing feeds to Google+.
Fortunately, Rob McGee created an easy-to-use service which can feed your Google+ posts directly to Facebook and Twitter.
All you need to do is sign in with your Twitter and Facebook logins, post a validation code on Google+, and then any posts shared with Rob McGee on Google+ will automatically be posted to your Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Something tells me Rob is being added to quite a few circles as a result of developing this handy service!
Remember that Twitter can only re-post updates of 140 characters or less.
Facebook and Twitter will create shortened links to Google+ posts that include videos, but posts with images will not be shared automatically. The only way to share images is to put the URL of the image into the status update, which automatically becomes a hyperlink on Twitter and Facebook.
It’s also important to remember that follow-up comments will only be visible on the social network on which they were posted.
Once Google+ is the “hub” rather than the “spoke,” your Twitter and Facebook statuses can be updated centrally from your Google+ account. You might still need to check both networks, respond to comments, and so on, but Google+ now sits at the centre of your social media presence.
While it could be considered duplication of content to feed updates between social networks, this is an efficient way to communicate with followers, friends, and fans—and to roll out your content strategy across several social media profiles simultaneously.