Microblogger shootout: Posterous Spaces vs. Tumblr

A new wave of free sites encourages fast blogging, multimedia entries and social networking.

The ambient noise in the social networking world is at such a pitch that it's getting hard to make yourself heard. If you've got a business or a topic to promote, you're probably dividing your time and attention among a variety of sites and services -- such as Twitter, Facebook, and your blog and/or website -- most of which you gradually adopted and cobbled together along the way.

In the interests of efficiency, it pays to cut through the redundancies and automate the process of getting the word out to as many people as possible. To that end, a new wave of microblogging sites began to emerge a couple of years ago.

These sites encourage shorter entries of only a few sentences rather than a few paragraphs. They feature a lot more multimedia content; users can quickly throw up videos and a variety of images (including photos, artwork, cartoons and whatever is of interest). And they make it simple to republish (or reblog) content that has already been posted by other users.

The two services that lead the pack are Tumblr and Posterous Spaces. Both have, for more than three years, provided a one-stop shop for publishing text, pictures, links or videos in blog-style websites. Both services offer tools to spread the word to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and to RSS aggregators such as FeedBurner.

The watchword for these two services is simplicity: They provide a template-based process that gets you started quickly and lets you tinker with design and settings as you go. They can keep updating your existing social networking presence and open up new ones among their own communities.

And they provide some handy extras you may never have considered, such as populating your blog (and Facebook news feed) via email.

True, Posterous Spaces and Tumblr lack the commerce tools and other robust site features that WordPress or Blogger can provide, but as a way to streamline your business communications, they may be just what you need.

To evaluate Tumblr and Posterous Spaces, I used a conceptual design for a blog site, along with graphics and editorial content, and tried to make the sites do what I needed them to. The proposed site is called HappyFlight; it has a logo, two contributors and two static pages ("About" and "Tips and Tricks").

In order to publicize the new site, I needed to repost to Facebook and Twitter and add the blog to RSS feeds. One item on my wish list for a site, a sales page designed for commercial activity, wasn't explicitly supported by either of these services -- but anyone with, say, a PayPal account could use that service to create a sales page with a strong enough sales-fulfillment back-end to handle light sales duties.

In the end, both sites came out looking pretty good, albeit with a couple of frustrations along the way.

(Story continues on next page.)

Matt Lake shows how Posterous Spaces lets you add multimedia content.

Matt Lake demonstrates some of Tumblr's features.

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