Ok, I admit that I am a little late to the social networking party. A year ago I would mock the Tweeps and Facebook fanatics for having too much time on their hands.
I now humbly apologize and I confess that I have been assimilated. Yes, I’m on Facebook and I have used it to keep in touch with old friends. I’m also on Twitter and use it to follow other professionals the same way I have been doing with RSS Feeds for years.
I eventually saw a need to centralize my updating of status and other messages in one place. I tried using Twitter to update Facebook but realized that I use Twitter too much for geek stuff and it would wear people out on FB. I thought I could go the other way but sometimes I use FB for more private, family and friends updates that I might not want “out there” on Twitter. (There’s a FB app that allows you to post from Twitter.)
I also wanted to have a way that I could update this blog with Twitter posts. That’s easy enough with a nifty WordPress plugin by Alex King called TwitterTools. It allowed me to display the most recent Tweets in my sidebar. I also hacked my theme so that it would display the most recent message in the header. That worked for a while but then as I used Twitter more and also got replies from people, sometimes it was hard to understand the context of only seeing the latest tweet.
What I needed was ONE PLACE where I could:
- Add status messages or quick blog posts
- Update Facebook, Twitter AND my blog with general status (“Out to dinner with the family”).
- Update only one of the above with status appropriate for the audience
- Update my blog with status or a customized message for the header
- Mix and match any 2 of the above.
Enter Ping.fm. This tool allows you to update several social networking sites with status updates, microblogging posts (like Twitter) or even longer blog posts with a title. You can configure Ping.fm with what they call “triggers” to update any combination of your target sites.
The best part was that I found a WordPress plugin called Ping.fm Custom URL by Matt Jacob that allowed me to set up my site to receive posts from Ping.fm.Â It’s pretty cool and since Ping.fm sends 3 different types of posts (status, microblogging and blog posts) I can have my status messages appear in the sidebar and blog posts go to one particular WordPress category.
I customized my template to grab the most recent post from the blog posts coming from Ping.fm and display it in the header. Then I had to figure out how to NOT display these on the front page along with my normal blog posts.Â Enter another cool plugin called Simply Exclude by Paul Menard that lets you control what categories appear on your front page and other archive listings.
All done.Â I love WordPress.