Several sites aim to make this process easier… namely, Posterous, Soup.io, FriendFeed and ShareIn. I’ve tried all of them, and I’d say they’re “almost ready for primetime.” Each has value, and each has significant drawbacks.
This is a quick review that’s interested in answering the question: “How can these tools make my social media life easier to manage?” I’m not so much interested in questions like, “What’s the most powerful, flexible blogging platform?” That’s another issue together (and the answer is WordPress, btw).
I’ll start with ShareIn, since it’s the simplest tool of the three. Here’s how I use it: I opened an account, dragged their bookmarklet to my Firefox bookmark toolbar, adjusted my settings in ShareIn to update my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and then started selectively posting links, videos and photos to my pages via the bookmarklet. It’s useful, because if I’m reading an article and want to share it with friends without emailing it (a less invasive or interrupting method of sharing), I can do this quickly with a couple of clicks.
ShareIn places the appropriate links and images in my Twitter and Facebook feeds. I can do both at once or just do only Twitter or only Facebook. I notice that there’s a delay for image loading within my Facebook page. During this time a ShareIn logo sits in the position where the media image or photo should go. That’s slightly annoying.
When users click on the links, they’re sent to the article or media. Pretty direct and simple. There’s a ShareIn banner at the top of the web page that can be clicked closed. I’m calling it a banner, but it’s really just a strip at the top which allows users to continue to share the link on their social networks. It’s viral that way. When you close it, you’re presented with the original URL and page. Either way – open or closed – you have a nice big view of the article or media. Here’s an example of how a ShareIn link looks.
This does make sharing info easier on Twitter and Facebook. It works as advertised and has some nice back-end reporting features that show you the popularity of your posts and so forth.
I tried ShareIn because I was frustrated with Posterous’s quirky linking practices. But Posterous has some nifty features and advantages. It’s much more than ShareIn, even though it does some of the same kinds of things.
What do I mean by quirky Posterous linking? Here’s the deal. When you link to online media and articles with Posterous, the link you share is a link to your Posterous blog… not to the original article. That’s problematic for me. This linking process (and the Facebook/Twitter integration) is done via a bookmarklet in Firefox, like ShareIn, and your “share” settings within Posterous (they include more services than just Facebook and Twitter).
[BTW – Posterous is essentially a blogging service, like Soup.io, Tumblr and other blogs.. but it’s different, because it’s primarily designed to blog things that you send in via email. You send content (photos, videos, documents, etc.) to email@example.com, and the information is nicely posted to your Posterous blog. Mine is http://phildunn.posterous.com/. It’s quick and easy to set up. Check out the Posterous site to see more of the benefits and unique features. It’s pretty slick.]
The way Posterous links is problematic, because of the way my Twitter and Facebook followers consume information. In Facebook, for example, the peruser of my content sees a nifty graphic or photo related to the story I linked to, but the link itself goes to my Posterous page, and on that page there’s only a tiny little link that goes to the original article (it’s easy to miss it). The common experience on Facebook is to click on the link and arrive at the article or media. With Posterous posts, I’m forcing them to jump through a multiple click process – if they even see the link to the original content in the Posterous post. The same thing happens with the Twitter links that are created by Posterous.
I didn’t like that – so that’s why I ended up at ShareIn.
Posterous is great, however, for sharing family photos and videos.. and then having them automatically blast out to Twitter and Facebook friends. That feature works great. Posterous makes slick galleries of multiple photos and those show up really nicely in Facebook. If you post from YouTube that shows up nicely in Facebook, as well.
My deal is that I want one tool to make all these things happen with a minimum number of clicks. Is that so much to ask?
Soup.io is somewhat different animal. It’s like Posterous in that you can send emails to Soup.io, and they’re posted on your blog page. In a way, it’s like Posterous in reverse, however. With Soup.io, you *import* content into your blog page from other services like Twitter, FriendFeed and so forth (I didn’t see Facebook integration available). This reminds me. I want to talk a little about FriendFeed at the end of this article.. coming soon. Here’s what my Soup.io page looks like: http://phildunn.soup.io/ (admittedly, I don’t spend as much time here as I do other places).
When I set up “import” with Twitter and YouTube, for example, Soup.io grabs all my shared content on those services and shows them in my Soup.io feed. This happens automatically moving forward. I’ve yet to see a way to click the “post to soup” bookmarklet and have that content automatically update my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
So Soup.io is not quite there yet, either. All these platforms have nifty features, but they’re not quite optimal for a user like me who wants to share articles, videos, photos and personal blog info, links, etc.
I’d say ShareIn is the best option for posting online content to Twitter and Facebook. Posterous is great for posting personal photos and videos and having that propagate out to Facebook and Twitter automatically (along with a host of other platforms – you can even have it automatically update your own blog, like a WordPress blog or Blogger blog). Soup.io is good for bringing everything to one place… the problem is that you have to update all the other services separately, and that doesn’t make any sense at all to me. I want a place where I can post once and forget about visiting Twitter and Facebook until there’s some interest or discussion going on those particular platforms.
Now this brings me to FriendFeed, which is kind of a hybrid. It’s half Soup.io because it allows you to import content from a lot of your favorite sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Picasa, Flickr, Digg, YouTube, etc. And it’s half Posterous, because it allows you to automatically publish (export) your FriendFeed updates to Twitter. There are currently Facebook apps that appear to enable updating of Facebook via FriendFeed, but I’ve yet to see something that looks reliable (please let me know if I’ve missed something). The intriguing thing is that Facebook recently bought FriendFeed, so there’s bound to be better integration coming down the line… or a transformation of Facebook and the obliteration of FriendFeed. Who knows.
So there you have it. I’m sticking with ShareIn for most of my needs. But I am using Posterous for family stuff (photos, videos and such). One caveat: if you want all these things to work well together, you need to have your settings in each platform perfect. Otherwise, you’ll multiple post to different social media sites. And that’s annoying. It’s pretty easy, though, so I won’t get into it here.
I’ve got another post coming about Eye-Fi – this one is perhaps the best technology innovation for social media I’ve ever encountered (as it pertains to photo and video sharing). This falls under the same category of this post, which is “How to make social media easier.” Until then, enjoy.