How to Share Content More Efficiently by Integrating Google Reader and Buffer

by Mark Smiciklas |

One of the most powerful dynamics of social media is the democratization of information. The more you can read, learn and share, the more value you should be able to extract from various digital channels.

Tapping into Web 2.0 to stay educated and informed is a labour intensive proposition. The tools are free but your time comes at a cost, so the more efficiently you can mange the process the better. If you subscribe to a lot of blogs (and other RSS feeds) and invest time in sharing useful content with your audience this workflow will help you streamline the process.

Before getting started there is one important caveat I need to mention. This is a broadcast tactic that will help you become more efficient at scheduling and sharing information. It’s one small piece of digital communication puzzle. To get the most out of social media you need to make connections and build relationships by engaging in real time. Enough said, let’s proceed.

Configure Buffer App

Buffer is a great tool that helps you schedule posts on Twitter and Facebook. Essentially, any given time you are online you populate Buffer with the content you want to publish and the application schedules your posts based on the days and times you configured.

After setting up Buffer you will need to adjust the publishing schedule for each Twitter or Facebook channel based on your objectives. Buffer will pre set the same times daily but you have the option of adding, deleting or editing to meet your needs.

Note: The free version of Buffer App allows you to connect one Twitter account + one Facebook account and store a maximum of 10 posts in your “buffer”. I use the Pro version ($10.00 per month). This upgrade allows connectivity to a total of five accounts and 50 posts in your buffer.

Add the Buffer Bookmarklet to Your Browser

BufferApp offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari so you can add posts to your Buffer from any web page, including right from inside Google Reader.

Step 1:  Click the “Goodies” tab followed by the “Install” button on your browser of choice. 

Step 2: Click the “Install” button on the respective browser guide page

When your extension is installed the Buffer icon will show up in browser window.

Step 3: Go to Google Reader, open a post to preview it. Click the BufferApp icon in your browser to add the post to your Buffer.

Click “Add to Buffer” and your post gets queued for publishing as per the schedule you configured.

Alternative: Add Buffer to Google Reader

For those of you that don’t like to use bookmarklets or have challenges loading them in your browsers i.e. work computers that block add-ons, etc. there is still a way to use Buffer right from inside Google Reader.

Step 1: Click the “Options” icon in Reader (top right corner)

Step 2: Click “Reader Settings”

Step 3: Click the “Send To” tab in the navigation bar

Step 4: Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Create a custom link”

Step 5: Enter the Buffer parameters in each field (see below)

Enter the following in each field and click “Save”:

  • Name: Buffer
  • URL: http://bufferapp.com/add?url=${url}&text=${title}
  • Icon URL: http://bufferapp.com/images/logo_icon_small.png

Schedule Posts from Google Reader

The next time you open up Reader you will  find Buffer as an option in the drop down under the “Send To” tab at the bottom of each post.

When you click to share via Buffer a new page will pop up in your browser containing the tagline from the blog post. At this point you can select which network(s) to schedule to and also edit the contents of the message.

When you “Add to Buffer” the post gets queued for publishing as per your configured schedules.

Summary

As someone who subscribes to a number of blogs (~100) and actively shares links I find this workflow to be very efficient. I like the fact that maintaining a consistent publishing schedule for the content I share doesn’t have to be in sync with days/times I check Google Reader. I also find the flexibility of being able to post directly from one platform to be a real time saver.

I have found the Google Reader/Buffer integration to be more time effective than using a tool like Hootsuite and having to go through multiple clicks in order to schedule each post. That being said, individual scheduling will give you more flexibility, however, if you invest a few extra minutes during the Buffer configuration process you can set up a pretty robust publishing schedule. It should also be noted that Buffer allows you to go in and change your schedule as required.

Finally, to reiterate the caveat from above. This workflow is great for reading and sharing but you still need to carve out some time for real time social media interplay – that where the magic happens. In addition to Buffer I also use Hootsuite and Sprout Social to monitor, respond, RT and jump into conversations.

What do you think about this workflow? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, feel free to share the social media process that helps make you more efficient. The comments are yours.

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About the Author

Mark Smiciklas

Mark Smiciklas is a Digital Strategist, author and President of Intersection Consulting; a Vancouver based digital marketing agency that teaches organizations how to leverage the dynamics of the web to achieve business goals. Mark is also the managing editor at Solopreneur.ca and is an established marketing and social media practitioner recognized for his visual thinking and practical strategic approach. You can connect with him on Google+.