Hands on: Posterous simplifies posting to multiple online services

Is Posterous an exciting new way to keep current with all your social networks, or is it simply this month's hot item?

When a top blogger announces, after five successful years, that he's moving onto a "lifestream" service because blogging feels old, people take notice.

Posterous, wrote Micro Persuasion's Steve Rubel about his new platform of choice, "continues to get insanely useful." Being somewhat addicted to finding cool apps, I was intrigued enough to sign up.

What is it? Whether for business or personal reasons (or both), if you become engaged in the social media world, you quickly discover that it can take a lot of time. A blog. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Flickr. If you also happen to, oh, have a day job, the constant nourishing of all that social media -- currently known as a lifestream -- can get overwhelming.

Posterous allows you to easily post items to your Posterous page and other social media services simultaneously -- all via one e-mail or text message. No desktop app or Web content management system log-in is needed. The post can contain photos, audio and video as well as text.

Posterous isn't meant to help you keep track of everyone else's info, but it will make it simpler to update the burgeoning list of social media sites where you have a presence.

How does it work? With one e-mail you can publish to multiple services -- plus have your own blog-like presence at a free posterous.com site. That page can be public or password-protected.

Based on how you address your e-mail, your posts will go to the Posterous site only or to Posterous and some or all of the services you registered. For example, addressing an e-mail to facebook+twitter@posterous.com will send the message only to your Facebook and Twitter accounts plus Posterous, no matter how many other services are registered to your account. Sending the e-mail to post@posterous.com will send the message to all your services.

The Posterous bookmarklet senses embedded video on a page you might like to share.

If you've got multiple accounts on a service -- for example, two blogs at Blogger -- you can target a specific one only; for example, sending e-mail to #travelfun@posterous.com would autopost to your Travel Fun blog but not any other registered blog at Blogger. Any attached photos are turned into a mini photo gallery and sent off to photo sites you've registered (such as Flickr or Picasa); your video and audio files are automatically embedded and sent to sharing sites you've registered.

What's cool about it? While some fans talk about Posterous as if it's a service for the post-blogging era, there's actually little difference in what visitors see on a posterous.com page compared to a conventional blogging site. What makes Posterous shine is how simple it is to set up and use, and how it eases the processes of social networking for the author/publisher.

In fact, I can't imagine an easier way to get started publishing a Web site, either individual or group. Registration took about 2 minutes, if you include time to receive and respond to the e-mail verification link. Publishing tools are pulled together elegantly and neatly, giving you a blog-like presentation, multimedia and outbound social media promotion.

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