Every year, it seems, a new form of online communication emerges. In the beginning, there were message boards. Then e-mail. Then e-mail newsletters. Then instant messaging, blogging, texting, social networking, micro-blogging, location-based social networking and many others.
Which is great. There's just one problem. As new media are born, the old ones never die.
Worse, each of these services is offered by several companies. We have to use more than one of each.
For example, you may have personal e-mail and work e-mail. Your colleagues are on Linkedin, but your relatives are on Facebook. If you write, publish or sell anything or provide services for a living, you've got to have a blog, a separate Twitter feed, a business Facebook page and more.
The result is that we spend hours every day going from one service to the next, trying to keep up. In my case, I’ve signed up to literally dozens of such social and communication sites.
Imagine if you could use only one service. Imagine if that service could replace everything. You could monitor only one feed, and you could post everything from a single place. And imagine if those posts would automatically show up on Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and other services, with links back to your original post where friends, family, customers, readers and fans could comment and interact together in one place.
It turns out that such a thing exists! It’s called Google+.
(If you'd like an invite to Google+, I'll give you one. Just go here.)
For the past five weeks or so, I've been on what I call a "Google+ Diet." I'm trying to give up all other forms of communication and do everything from Google+.
When I want to send e-mail, I post a private Google+ message, and address it using the e-mail address of my recipient. When I want to post a blog post, I simply market it "Public" (my profile page is my blog now).
At first, I went silent on Facebook, Twitter, my blog and all the rest. Little by little, however, I have activated various methods for posting on other services from Google+, while having the links bring people back to a public Google+ page where everybody can comment.
Now, everything I post on Google+ is also automatically tweeted via my Twitter account, and the link brings Twitter users back to Google+ for commenting.
When I want one of my Google+ posts to show up on Facebook on either my personal wall or business page, I select that option using a Google Chrome plug-in, of which there are several. (I happen to use G+me.) When my Facebook friends click on the link, they're taken back to my Google+ post to comment.
There are now many well-understood ways to do all this. Here's a list of instructions, for example, for set-it-and-forget-it posting on a WordPress blog, Twitter and Facebook all from Google+.
The problem is that for the past five weeks I had been ignoring my thousands of subscribers to my e-mail newsletter, which I've published since the 1990s. But now I've figured out how to do it.
The best e-mail or "listserv" hosting services will auto-import an RSS feed, and then broadcast e-mail that feed in a formatted, user-designed e-mail newsletter. In other words, anything that generates an RSS feed can also become an e-mail newsletter that publishes itself.
A free service called PlusFeed will give you an RSS feed for your Public Google+ posts. However, since this feed is generated on the fly, it apparently can't be used with some or all of the services that use an RSS feed. I've discovered that by importing the PlusFeed-created RSS feed into Feedburner, I can use the Feedburner URL successfully for publishing an e-mail newsletter.