Thursday, November 14, 2013

How To Use Google+ To Host Social Media Icons For Your Gmail Auto Signature (6 Simple Steps)

If you're like me, you prefer the look of having icons in your email auto signature that point to your various social media accounts over plain old text hyperlinks. The icons are much more visual, and visuals help motivate action.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the icons I was using in my auto signature had quit working. They were instead replaced by the logo of the website that I got these free icons from. I went back to the site, found some replacements, and took several minutes adding them back to my auto signature in Gmail (and the right-hand side of my blog). The problem was fixed...for about a day. 

A day or two later, the same thing happened again. I repeated the process again...and again the next day...and again the next. I started to get really frustrated. Because Gmail requires the auto signature images point to a working URL rather than allowing users to simply upload images from their computer, I couldn't find a simple solution. I tried uploading to my blog here. But, it wouldn't work. 

Finally, it hit me. Unlike other social networks, each post made in Google+ is its own unique url that can be linked to. Of course!! So, the following are the steps I took to get my auto signature set up with all of my social media icons once, and for all (I have accounts with a few others. But, these are my main ones). Take a look and let me know what you think. 

Step 1: Find the icons you want to use online and download them to your computer. I don't want to endorse any specific site, especially the ones that move their URLs every damn day! So, just do a Google search for free social media icons available for commercial use (just to be sure). 

Step 2: Go to Google+ and click the "Share what's new..." box to start a new post. Click the "Photos" option to upload a photo from your computer, and upload the icon you want to use.  

Step 3:  Share the post with a private circle - preferably one that you set up with no one in it (before the 'favorites' option for G+ posts, I used an empty circle to share posts with myself that I wanted to read later). This way, you won't be annoying those that have you circled by sharing a little social media logo for some reason unknown to them.  

Step 4: Click on the individual post to grab the URL (sometimes a post will have an option in the drop down options that reads "link to this post". That's what you want.)

Step 5: Go to Gmail and click the gear icon on the upper right - choose "settings" from the drop down options. Scroll down until you reach your auto signature. Click the "Insert Image" icon, and paste in the URL from Google+. Once you have inserted your image, highlight the icon, click the "link" option, and type in the URL for the social media profile you are linking to. Scroll down and click "save changes"

Step 6: Test it out. Open a new mail message in Gmail and confirm that your icons are all there and working. It will look something like what you see in the image below.

That's all there is to it. Please give it a try, and let me know in the comments if you have problems, successes, or know of another great way to make these social media icons appear in your Gmail auto signature and bring more of your contacts into your social world.