By Alyssa Gregory

The Search for the Perfect Social Network Aggregator

By Alyssa Gregory

social networksEarlier in the month, I posted Strategies for Managing Social Networks and a Full-Time Job, and one of the strategies I mentioned was using a social network aggregator to stay on top of activity in your networks. I decided to take my own advice and recently started a search for the “perfect” aggregator. I’m just in the beginning stages of the process, but I thought my research might be useful to others, so here is a list of what I’m looking for and the apps I plan to try out.

The Criteria

Despite it being a staple of most aggregators, I don’t need to be able to post one update across multiple networks. I tend to use each network differently than the next, so this functionality would be lost on me. Having said that, I do have an optimistic wish list. Here is some of what I want the aggregator to do:

  • Provide one place (app, web site, etc.) where I can catch up on all network activity
  • Allow me to post (different) updates to all of my networks in one location
  • Condense status updates of my connections across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Show people I am connected to in more than one network
  • Present data in a pleasing and easy-on-the-eye interface

The following items would be amazing to have, but I haven’t seen them at work in any of the aggregators I’ve taken a preliminary look at:

  • Ability to track drill-down activity, such as Facebook Fan Page posts and LinkedIn Group discussions
  • Mobile access
  • Integration of RSS feeds

The Contenders

  • Flock.com: A social network browser developed by Mozilla.
  • FriendFeed: A popular application that allows you to share content across Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and other social networks.
  • HootSuite: A web-based social media aggregator for tracking and posting updates.
  • Minggl: A browser add-on that lets you manage and interact with all your contacts from one place.
  • Netvibes: A web-based start page that lets you personalize the information you want to see, including blogs, weather, email, social networks, and more.
  • Orsiso: A social networking tool that lets you organize, simplify and socialize in one place.
  • Tweetdeck: An app that provides real-time social web access, allowing users to connect with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace.
  • ???: What do you recommend?

The Test

I will be installing/signing up with each of the services listed and trying them out to see how they work for me, measured against my wish-list criteria. I plan to report back on my findings over the coming weeks after I give these apps a test drive, so stay tuned.

Do you use an app to aggregate your social network activity? What do you recommend I add to my list of possibilities?

  • I use Socialite, an app for the Mac that lets me monitor multiple accounts on each of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Digg, and Google Reader.

  • Louis Simoneau

    I’m a diehard Friendfeed fan, but I don’t think it will meet your criteria. Although it has aggregation features, it works much better as its own community site, and if you don’t get involved in that community you’re unlikely to get much out of it.

  • deusdiabolus

    Also consider Profilactic (which is integrated with Ping.fm) and Plaxo. Wink is great for keeping a directory of your profiles, but they seem to want to be more of a people search than an aggregator. I was going to recommend social.median, but it appears they’ve merged with Xing, which is similar to LinkedIn.

  • Wadenick

    You would probably enjoy checking out Threadsy, 2nd place at 2009 Techcrunch50. Invites easily found via Bing’s Twitter search.

  • Mario

    I suggest you to check Hellotxt and ping.fm

  • Gary

    I’m a big fan of Seesmic Desktop, the Adobe AIR app (but oddly, not a fan of the native Windows version). Certainly can read and write to/from Facebook Fan pages but not AFAIK LinkedIn (but you can link your LinkedIn profile to read and update from a Twitter account).

  • internetretailin

    I am an avid fan of Flock, and I have never considered it as an aggregator until I read your post, I always thought of it just as a handy all in one tool. Ok, so whats so enticing about flock! Well, I can log into Gmail check my email, then close my tab and Gmail stays active in the background, I just click on the mail icon and I can see a summary of new emails or click to go back into gmail without logging into the Gmail page. I can save a whole lot of twitter searches on one page and follow those tweeters individually and they have separate columns. I can stay logged into Facebook and Twitter and it opens a sidebar with everyone’s updates so I can continue browsing or reading browser based mail, and click between Twitter and Facebook without losing my main browsing page as it all sits in a neat sidebar.

    I never saw this as an aggregator because everything is still separate and all just a click away, its like a dashboard.

    For me, the best feature of Flock is when I am reading something I like and want to blog about, I can simply right click, choose “publish this blog” a pop up provides a link, and an area with all the usual editing tools appears. I can even quickly attach a picture and it uploads it to a variety of photo sites (I chose Photobucket I think!)and places a link to this in the blog.It’s FAST when doing this and easily publishes to Blogger and a variety of other blogs.

    Its also built on the Mozilla- Firefox engine and I wouldn’t easily change to anything else, its a fantastic productivity tool for me !

  • Marleen de Korver

    I’m using Yoono sidebar (for firefox). Curious to know how you would assess this one compared to the ones you mentioned. http://www.yoono.com/

  • You missed Gwibber.

  • Some great suggestions! I will be adding most to my list…

  • stacye

    @Marleen de Korver I tell everyone about Yoono. I can update all of my social networks with just one entry.

    I’ll look forward to trying these others out, though.

  • joezim007

    I was looking into Minggl, but they’re not updated for the latest version of Firefox. This saddens me. It looked pretty good and I really wanted to try it but I couldn’t :(

  • mbt_atx

    Which of these (if any) have good analytics?

  • SocialLite

    An IT consultant for the better part of 25-years, I’ve been searching for the Holy Grail in this arena. The short list I’ve come up with, w/o a clear winner yet:

    HootSuite (Nice Analytics for Twitter)
    Google Buzz
    AOL LifeStream
    Seesmic/Ping.FM (Seesmic acquired Ping.FM)

    Will none of these have yet achieved “SA Nirvana,” Yoono seems most promising thus far, and yes I have tested them all: it’s what I do professionally and for fun :)

    I suggest trying each of these out for a few days, and decide which one works best for your social-networking activities. Yes, it will take about 2-weeks to kick the tires, but as there is no clear winner, and each offering leans toward being best for a particular few services, try before you buy is recommended.

    I would provide Twitter info to follow me, but I don’t think that would be allowed by the mods… good luck!

  • Martin

    Great post and analysis. Feel free to try you will have all your updades from fb & twitter in one place plus your favorite rss feeds – all in a single window, you will definately like it :)

  • meg

    so what were your findings?

  • Roz

    Great post and suggestions I’m off to try a few of them out.

  • Chetan Chawla

    Hi Alyssa,
    Great post on social network aggregators, I was wondering if you have updated it for 2011 ? If so, where can I find your latest work in this area?

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