A few months ago, a new site arrived on the increasingly crowded web 2.0 scene. Posterous offers a medium that fits somewhere between a blog and a microblog (the canonical example of the microblog being, of course, the juggernaut that is Twitter). Maybe it should be called a “miniblog”.
Posterous is not the only site to target the miniblog niche. Tumblr has been been around for a few years and has been reasonably successful in building a base of users who like the ability it provides to easily share photos, links and assorted random scribblings. As an obsessive early-adopter of most things web 2.0, I have a tumblr account (the “Raw Prawn” identity pre-dates the “Stubborn Mule”), but I have not been very active there of late.
Although Posterous launched only about six months ago, it has already seen healthy growth in traffic since then and has already reached the traffic rank that tumblr had six months ago.
Posterous.com Traffic Rank (September 2009)
Part of the reason for its success is that it is extraordinarily easy to use. There is no need to sign up or create an account, as you would on twitter, tumblr or any other web 2.0 site. Instead, simply send an email to email@example.com. Give it a try! Send a snippet of text or, better still, a photo, music file or a link to a youtube video and Posterous will work its magic to send back to you a link to a web page with your content that you can easily share with anyone and everyone. Here is one I prepared earlier. If you live in the US, you can also send posts via SMS from your phone.
Posterous has a raft of other features that put it on a level above tumblr. For a start, it tracks the number of times that a post has been viewed (the power user can even track traffic using Google Analytics). Also, like any good web 2.0 application, it supports tags which can easily be added, edited or deleted after creating your post. There is also an iPhone application that allows you to take a photo and immediately send it to Posterous (to be fair, tumblr has an iPhone application too).
To take full advantage of Posterous, you should “claim” your email address (ok, so at this point you are effectively signing up for the service, but you don’t have to take this step). One of the features this will allow you to access is the ability to “auto-post” to an increasing range of other sites, including Twitter, Identica, Facebook, Flickr and Delicious. Turning on these services is straightforward once you have claimed your address signed up.
What exactly auto-posting does varies with each service. In the case of Twitter, Posterous will send the title of each post with a shortened link to the post. If you auto-post to Flickr, any photos you sent to Posterous will be added to your Flickr account. If you have a blog, the chances are you can repost the entire content of your Posterous post.
Posterous also shares with tumblr and any good web 2.0 a social networking feature that allows you to subscribe to other people’s Posterous accounts. You can see posts you have subscribed to through the “My Subscriptions” link on Posterous as well as receiving regular email updates. Posterous also allows the creation of multiple miniblogs (up to three) within the one account.
Unlike Twitter, Posterous even has a business model in mind, with plans to offer premium services for a fee at some point in the future. This “freemium” service approach has already been adopted by the likes of Flickr, Dropbox and a number of other web 2.0 services. Even for users who never take up these premium services, any means of revenue generation should help the site to stick around for longer than some of the more fleeting web 2.0 sites.
I have only been experimenting with Posterous for the last couple of weeks, but with the combination of extreme ease of use, smooth handling of multiple media types and the auto-posting feature I expect that it has a bright future ahead. In the meantime, keep an eye on the Mule’s Posterous account for posts that do not quite warrant appearing here on the blog.
- Add tags to your posts using this short-hand in your email subject line: ((tag: food, photos)) – of course, you don’t have to use “food” or “photos”.
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you only want to auto-post to Twitter. Similar email addresses work for other services.
- Email to email@example.com if you do not want to auto-post anywhere.
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to create a private post.
- Type #end in the email and no subsequent text (signatures, etc) will be included in the post.
- If you use gmail, you can use gmail’s hyperlink creator to create links in your post (you will need to be using “Rich Formatting”).