Last Updated October 12th 2011: With tech news recently touting the decline of Social Aggregators, you would think these services are on their way out. Many have in fact failed (Streamy), but there are still quite a few in the race. The reality is, as more and more organizations utilize social networks to promote their goods or services, they are learning how time consuming it can be to manage and update multiple accounts on different networks. These types of tools are still very much in demand, that hasn’t gone away. As a developer and business owner myself, any tools that can streamline the redundant day-to-day social media marketing tasks are always high on my radar. With that said, here is my (now way, way outdated) list of…
The Best Social Aggregation Tools
Yahoo Pipes is exactly what it says “…a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate and mashup content from around the web.” Think about that for a minute. Still don’t understand what it does? Imagine taking RSS feeds from all your blogs and making one master feed. Then imagine taking that master RSS feed and plugging it into Twitterfeed to auto-tweet your Twitter account anytime content is updated on any of your websites. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Pipes provides a graphical user interface (GUI) to manipulate various data from around the web as you see fit. The full range and scope of what you can do with content is only limited to your imagination and of course, Yahoo Pipe’s user guidelines.
Ping.fm is shaping up to be one of the clear winners in the social media aggregation space. If you did not already know, I highly advise using Ping.fm to speed up your social media marketing campaigns. It will save you a lot of time. With an intuitive user interface, a developer API, mobile publishing options and over 50+ networks to chose from, Ping.fm is my weapon of choice.
Twitterfeed allows you to take RSS feeds and link them to a twitter account, creating a new tweet when content is published to the feed. For example, you may have a blog that you update daily. Instead of manually creating a tweet every time you post a new blog entry, your Twitter feed would detect the new content from your RSS feed, and then create a new tweet automatically. There are many other interesting things that can be done with Twitter feeds, particularly in conjunction with Ping.fm and Yahoo Pipes. If you aren’t already using it, get it.
As described on the Microsoft Fuze Labs website: “Spindex brings you an overview of your entire social world in one page.” I normally cringe at anything associated with Microsoft products; but I have to admit the work being done by the Fuze Labs team is impressive to say the least. Fresh on the heels of their announcement of Docs for Facebook, Spindex hopes to succeed where FriendFeed has failed. How do they plan to do this? Search. Spindex promises an impressive feature set, including the ability to customize your own search queries based on content and activity within your social networks. This could be a game-changer if executed correctly.
Hootsuite is a great Twitter tool that helps you manage multiple Twitter accounts, similar to Tweetdeck, but web-based. You can integrate other social networks like Facebook, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ping.fm, Myspace and Foursquare, as well as WordPress based blogs. The interface is intuitive, giving you the ability to make as many tabs for various feeds and Twitter searches as you see fit. It was built for collaboration as well, with the ability to create teams, track analytic information and share other information for predefined campaigns. Keep in mind that it’s web-based, which makes this the current best web-based Twitter aggregation tool available.
Yoono is a great Firefox plugin for social media aggregation that allows you to connect your Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles into one easy to manage activity stream right inside your browser. Out of all the browser plugins available at this time, it is definitely one of the better ones I’ve used.
Nomee came out of nowhere. Boasting integrations with more than 140 social networks, a sleek user interface as well as iPad & iPhone applications, Nomee has gained significant ground as a key player within the social media aggregation space. I see Nomee as a useful tool for those social media power users who have a lot of social media accounts, and by a lot, I mean a profile on more than 75 networks. Obviously it would be impossible to login and manually post updates on all of those networks day after day. Although Ping.fm offers plenty of integrations, it is still lacking in some areas. If you are trying to achieve omnipresence across a large number of networks, Nomee is the way to go.
Tweetdeck has become one of my essential twitter monitoring tools, and also serves as another channel to aggregate content to my other social media accounts. As stated on there website: “TweetDeck is your personal real-time browser, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Buzz and more…”If you are specifically looking for a desktop app / iPhone app for Twitter, this is defintely a product you want to check out.
Social Mention is a social search tool that allows you to aggregate searches across hundreds of social networks, blogs, comments, social bookmarking services and more. The service offers email updates of the latest relevant social media results based on your own custom search phrases. One of the coolest features Social Mention offers is their Real Time Buzz Widget. You can enter your product or company name into a query, and then create a badge for your website that will display all mentions by people for that keyword or phrase across the web. Unlike the other services listed here, Social Mention focuses on search, helping you aggregate the topics, people and trends you are looking for. Social search is becoming another class of service unto itself, no longer being grouped in with the standard aggregation tools we have seen over the past few years. More on that later…
Minggl is a nifty little toolbar that allows you to interact with all your contacts, including status updates, friend categories and private messages all from one place. As a compact sidebar in your browser, you do not have to navigate away from your page to post or review updates on other social networks. This proves very useful for multitasking, because you are not as easily distracted by content as you normally would be browsing through the actual networks.
Flock takes social aggregation into the web browser. I have found it to be a bit slow under certain circumstances and it is lacking in the add-on department. Flock is a product of Mozilla, however so many Firefox extensions and add-ons seem to be compatible, while others are not. Some of its strongest features are in its ability to share and manipulate different types of media right in the browser. If you are really into sharing media with your friends fast and hassle free, flock is worth checking out.
Despite criticism over privacy concerns shortly after its release, falling short on integrations (including Facebook) and a lackluster feature set, Google Buzz makes the list for one simple fact: Google it. Being one of the largest companies in the known universe has its benefits, and one of those would be the ability to lose copious amounts of money on products that lack focus, form and function. Just look at Microsoft.
In a nutshell, you don’t have to leave Gmail to get updates from friends in your other social networks. Buzz provides an activity stream (similar to Facebook) that is linked to your Google profile. Users can post links, comments and media directly into the activity stream, as well as view updates from their friends on other popular social media websites like Youtube, Flickr, Twitter and FriendFeed.
As it is now, the service does nothing for me except provide a veritable black hole of spam e-mails and shady requests from people I don’t know. Like many of Google’s products, I suspect Buzz will iron out the kinks over time. Even if the service is more of a buzzkill than a buzz at the moment, I haven’t completely given up on it just yet.
At the very end of my list is FriendFeed, a service that has proven to be completely worthless on every front. The idea seemed to sound better when I heard it from a friend than when I actually visited the website and registered. In theory, FriendFeed can give you a way to aggregate your business and personal life on the social web by separating friends and feeds into groups. Unfortunately, it does little more than add noise to an already chaotic symphony of tweets, status updates and random memes. Not to add fuel to the FriendFeed bashing fire, but it really has proven the least useful of all social media aggregators available, in my honest opinion. It is also important to note that the company was recently acquired by Facebook, so it does look like there is a future for FriendFeed. Also, this website said it’s not dead yet.
This is in no way intended to be presented as the definitive list of social media tools, or social media aggregators, for that matter. My intention was to share my knowledge on the topic and spark some debate on what else is available, pros, cons, etc. I suspect this particular space will always have a lot of competition, which is fine. That will only result in cheaper, more efficient, user-friendly tools for you and me! Thanks for the read, and as always, be sure to drop a comment!