The social media scheduling tool Friends+Me has released an update today that allows users to schedule their personal Google+ profile posts.
In what’s shaping up to be a scheduling war, Buffer and Friends+Me are vying to be your go-to tool for scheduling social media activity. Last week, Buffer added support for scheduling Pinterest Pins, and now Friends+Me has added support for scheduling Google+ profile posts.
While several tools have permitted scheduling of posts to Pages, scheduling to personal profiles has been problematic. The Google+ platform itself has never allowed it. And while there have been attempts from third-party tools, namely Everypost and DoShare, the solutions have been less than ideal.
Speaking with Alois Bělaška, founder of Friends+Me, it was clear that he was excited to be able to bring this functionality to the Google+ community. He knows exactly how long this has been in demand.
What’s fascinating about Friends+Me is that it’s more than just scheduling of posts… the tool offers a complete suite of scheduling options akin to Buffer. For each connected profile, including your Google+ profile, you can:
- Create a posting schedule and add posts to your queue.
- Add posts to the front of the queue.
- Share posts immediately.
- Schedule posts at a specific date and time.
- Save the post as a draft.
And of course there’s the re-posting style of scheduling that Friends+Me started with and has driven its success. With any of your connected social profiles, you can designate that profile as the “Source” and then set one or more other profiles to be posted to automatically. So that when you share to your Google+ profile, for instance, Friends+Me will then automatically duplicate that post to the other profiles of your choosing.
If you’re taking the time to craft thoughtful posts for one of your networks, this is great way to extend that conversation to other networks.
When doing so, you can choose whether the tool directs people to the original post on Google+, or links directly to whatever content you’re linking to. Friends+Me refers to this as “growing” your main profile as it directs your followers on other networks to it.
In addition to your personal Google+ profile, you can also connect Google+ Pages and Communities, Twitter, Facebook profiles and pages, LinkedIn profiles and pages, App.net and even a Tumblr blog.
UPDATE: Friends+Me has also added support for the new Google+ feature, Collections!
To get started with Friends+Me, you’ll need to create an account and connect one or more of your social profiles. If you’re just getting started, I’d certainly appreciate it if you used my affiliate link! (http://thesmh.co/TryFriendsMe) There are a variety of plan levels to choose from, based mostly on the number of accounts you want to be able to manage.
Once you’ve connected all of the social profiles that you want to use, you’ll want to set up the schedule for each, as well as go to your account and consider the “Reposts Routing” option. If you like the idea of having your shares to one network automatically duplicated to other accounts, check this out!
While you can compose posts within Friends+Me, the easiest option is to immediately install the browser extension (https://friendsplus.me/extension). You’ll then have a button in your toolbar that you can use while on any website or blog post to get a new social media post started.
With the extension installed, you can click to share or link or, better yet, first highlight some text on the page that you might want to quote or share. Right most clicking will reveal a Share with Friends+Me option, or you can click the toolbar button.
This will open the compose post box where you’ll be able to pick and choose which social networks you want to share to, and when.
For Google+ posts, the compose box also offers the option to format your posts with bold and italics, and for all networks, you can upload an image of your own. If you’re sharing a link, you’ll see a link preview under the compose field, but sometimes the image isn’t great, or it might be more impactful to share an image of your own.
Installing the extension will also add a Friends+Me logo to any Google+ post that you view, enabling you to schedule a re-share of that post, rather than having to share it immediately.
Want to know the best part? When scheduling a post to Google+, you can mention other Google+ users! Something that is just taken for granted on platforms like Twitter has been incredibly challenging on Google+. Sure, if you know someone’s Google+ numeric ID, you can mention then while scheduling posts using Hootsuite or Buffer or just about any other tool… but this is the first tool that’s offered autocomplete that’s as good as when composing on the native platform.
If you’re using a branded shortlink, be sure to click on Link Shortening within one of the connected profiles and add your Bit.ly account. You can set it to use that for all accounts.
One final note regarding posting and scheduling. If you’re posting to your Google+ profile and do not want that post to be duplicated to your other accounts in your repost routing schedule, Friends+Me offers the option of simply including a hashtag on the post, like #ns or #plusonly, and the post will be ignored by Friends+Me. The #ns hashtag is automatically added to posts that are scheduled to avoid duplication.
Please note: due to the fact that Google+ has no or limited API access to personal profiles, there is still no “cloud” solution for scheduled activity. You must install the Friends+Me browser extension and allow it to continue running in order to schedule posts to your personal profile. Does this make Friends+Me no better than the Chrome extension DoShare? I’ll let you decide.
Friends+Me has been updated to take advantage of the new Google+ API that permits scheduling without a browser extension operating. Read more.
What Are The Benefits & Ramifications Of Scheduling Activity?
For many of you, the first sentence of this post was enough to blow your mind. You’ve been waiting so long for the ability to schedule Google+ posts, you probably just gave up hope. Then Alois comes along like Obi Wan Kenobi and not only is there hope, there’s victory for the rebellion.
For the rest of you, you may be wondering what the big deal is. Why is scheduling so important, and why would you want to? Isn’t automation of social media activity a bad thing.
First things first.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with scheduled social media activity. That degree of automation is not only OK, it’s encouraged. In fact, it’s downright essential for most businesses. Most of us can’t take the time to post to Google+ in the morning, Facebook in the afternoon, Pinterest in the evening, and to Twitter all the live-long day.
We have a business to run!
Scheduling social media activity frees us to focus our time on the day-to-day matters of running a business.
Now, where automation can go horribly wrong is when:
A: The scheduled posts pay no attention to the platform on which they’re being scheduled and do things like @mention people on Facebook, or go longer than 140 characters on Twitter and get truncated. Scheduled posts should follow the same best practices as if you were posting live.
B: The automation includes additional activity, like auto Direct Messages. All engagement with your followers must be live and genuine. Hopefully, some of the time you save by scheduling your activity across multiple platforms can be put toward responding to comments and mentions personally.
I know for some of you I’m preaching to the choir, but any time I talk about scheduling and automation, I think it’s important to review this point.
And Alois couldn’t agree more. He advises that you, “do not cheat yourself, schedule posts and save the time for more important things, for example family. Friends+Me can help you to deliver your message to followers across the globe at the right time to increase the engagement. The only thing you have to take care of is the creation of great content or using the extra time you have saved with Friends+Me.”
Now that that’s behind us, what can do with this glorious upgrade from Friends+Me?
Spread out your posts and reshares on Google+
One of the biggest challenges everyone faces across all social media platforms is the compulsion to share great content as soon as we see it, even if we just shared something awesome. Share too much, too fast, and you risk being considered a spammer by your followers.
Instead, we’ve used other tools on other platforms to help us spread those posts out and make sure that even if we find 5 or 6 great articles in row (which happens every Monday morning in the Social Media space), all of those articles aren’t shared within a 15 minute timespan.
As you find great content to share, just add it to your queue and let Friends+Me spread it out over time.
Curate more interesting content for your audience
And with that capability of spreading out posts comes more freedom to share, well, more! Most of us only have so much time in the day to find and read interesting articles and decide whether or not they’re “share worthy.”
And having to manually share them meant that may would likely go unshared (see previous point about spamming).
So, now, if I find a dozen really good articles, I don’t have to be quite so selective about what I share. I will still make sure they’re great, but I won’t be telling myself that I already shared 3 articles today and that’s it. I can queue up the others to be shared and let the queue do its work.
Share more of your great evergreen content from your archive
This has been my most important reason for using other social media management tools, and what’s likely the most valuable use-case for Friends+Me.
With a scheduling queue, you can now go through your blog archive, picking and choosing from your evergreen posts, and spread out shares of those posts to your Google+ profile over time.
There’s no doubt that there are people following me today who had never heard of me six months ago. They’ve never read any of my blog posts from before that point, so re-sharing those posts to my Google+ profile helps them, and brings renewed interest to my blog.
Be more consistently active in Communities
Finally, this level of scheduling can really help those of us who want to be active and participate in Google+ Communities, but have previously lacked the time.
Of course, the implication here is that any scheduled share must still be valuable, and no where is that more true than within Communities. Google+ Communities, like Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, have their own sets of rules and regulations, as determined by the Community owner.
Abide by all community rules. If that means not sharing links to your own content, then so be it. But most communities are fine with posts that link to your won content so long as it’s relevant and you make an effort to use the content to spark a discussion, not just drive traffic.
So when setting up your scheduled shares to communities, be mindful of the rules and take the time to compose a relevant introduction to the share.
How Does Friends+Me Compare To Buffer?
I mentioned earlier that Friends+Me scheduling is very comparable to Buffer. I was interesting in seeing how else the two platforms compared.
Aside from the obvious difference with regard to Google+, the two tools have some other significant differences.
For instance, within Buffer, each time a post is shared, Buffer will begin to measure the impact and effectiveness of that post, and you can view those metrics within Buffer. Friends+Me does not currently offer any metrics other than Google+ profile analytics provided by CircleCount. Instead, you would need to make sure you’re using your Bit.ly account for sharing of content to track clicks.
Second, within Buffer, once you’ve shared a post, you can choose to re-Buffer that post at any time, to any of your profiles. Friends+Me offers no such option.
Saving posts as a draft, and mirroring posts from one profile to one or more others are unique features for Friends+Me.
Pricing for both Buffer and Friends+Me is fairly comparable.
For anyone for whom Google+ is their primary platform, or who would like Google+ to be a significant part of their marketing strategy, Friends+Me is an invaluable tool.
There’s simply no substitution for being able to schedule posts to social media at the best times to reach your audience. And while it can be debated and analyzed exactly when that time might be for each unique audience, there’s definitely best practices to be considered.
And with it’s support of all of the major social platforms, Friends+Me has positioned itself to be a very viable alternative to other mainstream social media management tools. It will be very exciting to see how Alois further develops and enhances the tool, so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you won’t miss future updates.
Disclaimer: Friends+Me did not review, endorse or otherwise influence this review. Complimentary advance access to the latest features was provided for the purpose of testing the system. The affiliate link is provided because I do, in fact, endorse and support the use of this product.