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Using Posterous and Google Reader to build a content hub.

January 31, 2010 4 comments

Recently, I came across a great post by Mike Troiano on building a basic content hub. So, I built one around the WaySavvy blog using his advice. The end goal is to build a portal for all things travel, where we can both broadcast our original travel content and syndicate interesting things from the web. There’s still lots of tweaking to be done as we’re experimenting with various services so this is not production-ready but I thought I’d share our progress so far.

The building blocks:

1. WordPress.com. Since we’re not hosting our own WordPress blog (yet), WordPress.com seemed like the second best thing. It has a good selection of features and themes, automatic SEO, and a nice selection of widgets you can add to your page. Auto-broadcasting to Twitter is one of my favorite ones.

2. Google reader. Reader has earned its reputation as the best feed aggregator, but the feature we are using most here is “Send To.” To set it up go to settings > reader settings > send to. What this does is let you broadcast any entry you find interesting in reader to other sites.

3. Which brings me to Posterous. Posterous is an incredibly simple blogging platform that allows you to post content by emailing it to post@posterous.com from the address you registered with (or you can select Posterous in the “send to” menu in Google reader). One of its best features is autopost, which propagates the content you sent to Posterous on to pretty much any other platform: in our case: WordPress, Facebook, Flickr, and Youtube. With simple prefixes to the email address you can choose to propagate content everywhere or selectively. What’s more, Posterous allows you to add multiple emails to the account so multiple people can use it as a funnel to post to all of your company’s content outlets without having an admin login into each one.

There are two alternatives here:

a. skip a step and “Send To” some of these networks directly from Google reader. Problem is, reader doesn’t support all of the features Posterous does, such as posting directly to a Facebook Page (not a Facebook profile)

b. Use Ping.fm, which can propagate content to even more places than Posterous but does not create another blog in the process. The issue here is that Ping (for now) does not have the group posting feature – though I’m keeping an eye out for when they might offer it.

4. Facebook page – you can create one for free from your personal account. For now, our page simply mirrors the WordPress blog, but to quote someone very famous “we’ll find something to put here soon.” Kudos if you get the reference.

5. Flickr/Youtube/Yammer – once you create an account with each of these, connecting them to Posterous is very easy – media content gets filtered automatically and sent to the right place (i.e. videos to YouTube, pictures to Flickr).

So, to track a sample post: Find something interesting in google reader, click “send to posterous” and it automatically gets posted on WordPress and Facebook. WordPress, in turn updates Twitter. If there are images in the original post, they get sent to Flickr.

To publish original content, write it in your text editor of choice and send by email to post@posterous.com

Magic!

Now that the basic building blocks are set up comes the hard part – figuring out the best content to syndicate, generating lots of original content, and starting a community. More posts on that as we go along.