While social networks such as Facebook and Twitter can be fun and certainly benefit businesses immensely, but there's no doubt that updating each individual profile is time consuming.

However, there are a number of multiple posting services that can help you send a variety of information to a collection of sites, including blog posts, photos, videos and status updates.

For this roundup, I looked at three: Ping.fm, Pixelpipe and the unpronounceable Quub. All are free, all are very much works in progress and all can be either extremely useful or dangerous: It's just that much easier to mistakenly post something on the wrong site.

The services all work similarly: You sign up with a basic email address and password, and then start adding your connections (Pixelpipe calls them 'pipes', Ping.fm calls them 'networks' and Quub calls them 'services') with their separate username and login combinations.

This means that your credentials for each connection are stored by the multi-posting service. If that makes you uncomfortable, then it may be a good idea to steer clear of these sites altogether. Some of the connections require you to download specific applications, such as a Facebook application, but for the most part they don't take much time or effort to get going.

Once you have your connections set up, you can begin broadcasting your content, such as a blog post, a status update, or photo. Note that you still need to go to each service and use your regular log-in to do other tasks, such as editing your posts or searches.

Pixelpipe and Ping.fm allow you to send status updates to your connections via email, instant messaging or SMS, but these are relatively crude connections. If you are looking for ways to update your blogs or status when you are mobile, then these deserve some scrutiny.

For the most part, though, I preferred using the services' web interfaces and being more selective about which sites I wanted to post to.

There is, of course, a downside to sending the same message to a variety of connections. For one thing, your friends, or social network correspondents, can quickly tire of your updates if they subscribe to the same multiple networks as you do.

Finally, no single service offers a connection to every social network out there, although they do cover the more popular ones. And keep in mind that this is constantly changing; the number of services each of these sites covers is likely to have changed between the time I wrote this piece and the time you are reading it.

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NEXT PAGE: Ping.fm

  1. These websites  make it easier to update multiple networks
  2. Ping.fm
  3. Pixelpipe
  4. Quub

No time for Facebook or Twitter? Don't worry, these websites will keep your multiple social networking profiles updated without you having to log-in to each one separately.

Ping.fm

Ping.fm combines status updates and blogging support for 39 different connections, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Blogger and WordPress. (It was, however, missing support for Plurk.com www.plurk.com , which is available on the other two services.)

The service shares many convenient features with Pixelpipe, such as a character counter to keep track of what you are composing, in case you want to post to Twitter or other connections that limit the length of your posts. You can post to your blogs and embed clickable URL links in the text, which is a nice feature.

Also, you can relay messages to your connections using instant messaging or text messaging from your mobile phone. You can also relay messages by sending email to a special account, and any pictures that are attached will be converted to links and included in the updates.

Despite the similar features, I liked the layout and implementation of Pixelpipe better - it took fewer screens to complete the same tasks.
The folks at Ping.fm have even developed PHP code so that you can send simple text posts to a website outside of their collection of connections.

You first upload the code to your web server and then change it to fit in with your particular site. (When transferring code to your web server, be aware that this can be a security risk if you don't have your site folder permissions set up properly.)

This is a bit more comprehensive but cumbersome than what Pixelpipe offers to hosted WordPress blogs, for example. With Pixelpipe, I just need to enter authentication information and I can post to a hosted WordPress blog without having to upload any code to the site.

Ping.fm also has a variety of other tools that can help developers add user-generated content to sites. There is a Google Group for PHP developers that has more details and sample code segments.

Ping.fm combines both status updates and blogging support for a wide variety of networks. It also allows you to set up groups of connections to make posting content easier.

You select one of the four types of connection (status updates, photos, blogs, or micro-blogs) and then select which of your connections falls into that group. When the time comes to post, you choose the particular group and your content will be uploaded just to those connections.
You can include tags in your content by using the code '@t' before a list of tags separated by commas.

Ping.fm will then take the information and convert them into tags or hashtags for those connections that use them. Finally, you can include a link to a song from music service Grooveshark.

Given the increasing number of third-party applications it supports, this is a service that is worth keeping an eye on.

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NEXT PAGE: Pixelpipe

  1. These websites  make it easier to update multiple networks
  2. Ping.fm
  3. Pixelpipe
  4. Quub

No time for Facebook or Twitter? Don't worry, these websites will keep your multiple social networking profiles updated without you having to log-in to each one separately.

Pixelpipe

When I tested it, Pixelpipe supported more than 80 connections (and had increased to 95 while this article was being edited), more than either of the other two services reviewed here (although it was missing support for two that I use all the time: LinkedIn and Plaxo).

I also found Pixelpipe to be the most usable when it came to sending different types of information to these connections. For example, you can set up a group of photo-sharing sites, another made up of blogging sites and a third group that has mostly status updates - and then send different content to each group at different times.

On its 'My Pipes' screen the service keeps track of each connection that you have set up, and you can easily change the settings or disable a connection if you need to. It also shows you what content you most recently added and when it was uploaded to each connection.

For backup purposes, I routinely update a series of different blogging platforms with the same post that is mostly text with a few links, and Pixelpipe is ideal for this. It can even be configured to post to a hosted Wordpress blog (meaning one that is running on your own domain and own server), once you enable the XML-RPC update feature in the Wordpress Writing options. Note that this feature is only found on hosted Wordpress blogs and not on those blogs that are created on the Wordpress.com site itself.

Of the three services, I liked the user interface and controls of Pixelpipe the best. The blogging updates worked well and were posted almost instantaneously on my Wordpress, LiveJournal www.livejournal.com and Blogger sites.

It uploads multiple videos and photos at one time too, and you can pick and choose your sites by simply checking off which ones you want to submit to in its 'Quick Post' screen. You have the ability to add titles, captions and tag your photos too, another nice touch.

Pixelpipe's Quick Post screen lets you check off which services you want to submit to.

The one drawback to Pixelpipe is that, because you can load up so many different connections, you can quickly forget which one is which when the time comes to post your content to them. This is because most of the popular sites are only identified with a small icon and your user name; you will find yourself switching back and forth with the main portal screen to decode the icon if you want to select only a few of your connections.

Pixelpipe also has a lot of software tools to help you with your posting needs. It was one of the first services to support Google Android phones, and there is also software for iPhones and Nokia handsets as well.

There is a Firefox extension and software that works with Picasa and Adobe's Lightroom desktop editing software too. You can email messages and files to your connections by using a special email address. And the software is available on Mac, Windows and Linux systems, always a good idea.

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NEXT PAGE: Quub

  1. These websites  make it easier to update multiple networks
  2. Ping.fm
  3. Pixelpipe
  4. Quub

No time for Facebook or Twitter? Don't worry, these websites will keep your multiple social networking profiles updated without you having to log-in to each one separately.

Quub

Quub supported only eight different connections when I tried it. In its favor, though, is the ability to update the status of Plurk, LinkedIn and Plaxo concurrently - at the time of this review, it was the only one of the three services that could.

Quub is really designed for status updates only and doesn't upload blog posts or pictures. It has a well-designed message composition screen that has a variety of prompts to help you write the best status messages ever. It asks you three questions: where you are, what are you doing and whatever else you might want to add.

Below these questions is a tag cloud of suggestions that you can click on, modify, or use as inspirations for composing your own status update message. You are limited to 140 characters, even if you want to post to a service that can handle longer messages. When you are finished composing, you can choose which connections and/or receive your updates. Quub can schedule status updates for a specific time in the future, which can be handy.

The contacts feature is something that distinguishes Quub from the other two services - think of it as its own social network community. You can categorise contacts in groups, just as you can with Facebook or LinkedIn. And you can send status messages to one or more of these groups using the main composition screen. You can also tag your contacts so that every time they compose a new status update you will be notified via email if you so desire.

The downside is that you are, in essence, creating create a new social network of Quubies (or whatever you want to call members of Quub). Each new contact that you add within Quub gets an invite to join Quub if they haven't already, which could be annoying to email buddies who already have too many social networks on their plate.

Quub offers a tag cloud of suggestions that you can use as inspirations for composing your own status message.

As of this writing, Quub offered mobile status updating for Android and Blackberry devices. It also lets you use your instant messaging client to send a message from your mobile device - you include a special authorisation code and anything that you send will get posted on all of your services. You can also send these updates to your Quub contact list and/or other social networks.

Conclusions

Each of these three services will save time over the manual methods of updating multiple connections, so the question is which one is worth the trouble.

If you need something to post the same content to multiple blogs, try Pixelpipe. If you are a frequent user of Plaxo and LinkedIn, try Quub. And if you want to work in PHP and add this functionality to your own hosted blog, then try Ping.fm.

See also: Ten tips to get the most out of Facebook

Take part in PC Advisor's Broadband Survey 2009

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  1. These websites  make it easier to update multiple networks
  2. Ping.fm
  3. Pixelpipe
  4. Quub