Review: 3 services help keep all your social networks up-to-date

No time to post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all your other social networks? These tools can make multiple messaging less of a hassle.

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Ping.fm

Ping.fm combines status updates and blogging support for 39 different connections, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Blogger and WordPress. (It was, however, missing support for Plurk.com, which is available on the other two services.)

The service shares many convenient features with Pixelpipe, such as a character counter to keep track of what you are composing, in case you want to post to Twitter or other connections that limit the length of your posts. You can post to your blogs and embed clickable URL links in the text, which is a nice feature.

Also, you can relay messages to your connections using instant messaging or text messaging from your cell phone. You can also relay messages by sending e-mail to a special account, and any pictures that are attached will be converted to links and included in the updates. Despite the similar features, I liked the layout and implementation of Pixelpipe better -- it took fewer screens to complete the same tasks.

The folks at Ping.fm have even developed PHP code so that you can send simple text posts to a Web site outside of their collection of connections. You first upload the code to your Web server and then change it to fit in with your particular site. (When transferring code to your Web server, be aware that this can be a security risk if you don't have your site folder permissions set up properly.)

This is a bit more comprehensive but cumbersome than what Pixelpipe offers to hosted WordPress blogs, for example. With Pixelpipe, I just need to enter authentication information and I can post to a hosted WordPress blog without having to upload any code to the site.

Ping.fm also has a variety of other tools that can help developers add user-generated content to sites. There is a Google Group for PHP developers that has more details and sample code segments.

Ping.fm
Ping.fm combines both status updates and blogging support for a wide variety of networks.

Ping.fm allows you to set up groups of connections to make posting content easier. You select one of the four types of connection (status updates, photos, blogs, or micro-blogs) and then select which of your connections falls into that group. When the time comes to post, you choose the particular group and your content will be uploaded just to those connections.

You can include tags in your content by using the code "@t" before a list of tags separated by commas. Ping.fm will parse this information and convert them into tags or hashtags for those connections that use them. Finally, you can include a link to a song from music service Grooveshark.

Given the increasing number of third-party applications it supports, this is a service that is worth keeping an eye on.

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