It is claimed that 1 in every 8 people on the planet are users of Facebook, or in numerical terms about 900 million. It is also reported there are around 140 million users of Twitter and many millions more across the sea of other social networks. But when you add all of these numbers up, surely there can’t be that many users of social networks in the world? And the answer is of course not. It is known that users of social networks, particularly Facebook, tend to use more than one network.
Social networks have been built with the idea of making our social lives easier. But when an individual has multiple social networking accounts, available 24/7 on laptops, tablets or smartphones, keeping up with the constant stream of updates can be somewhat of a nightmare. A number of app developers have picked up on this and attempted to aggregate this mass of data, and here we review a few of these.
It is a relatively new social network aggregator and its developers refer to it as “your social communication centre”. The site allows users to connect profiles from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and any of 220+ other services. Users can also view and comment on photos and videos of their contacts from these sites as well as upload photos simultaneously to them. But it goes a step further by allowing users to aggregate email accounts from Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and a host of others.
It performs the aggregation but via a very different function, in that it’s a fully-fledged browser. Social media integration is what drives the Flock browser. Instead of having to share login information through separate channels, it can be contained in one spot with Flock, which is great for online security. As well as the services offered by Alternion, it has a web clipboard service which allows users to snatch, grab and collect links, images and other bits of info to share later with the clipboard feature. Users can also make Flock their own by installing their favourite Firefox extension and incorporating backgrounds and images.
Hootsuite refer to themselves as “a social media management system” targeting businesses and organisations for the purpose of brand management. The interface takes the form of a dashboard enabling users to launch marketing campaigns across multiple social networks, helping to identify and grow audiences, and distribute targeted messages.
One tool that is attracting a lot of news at the moment is Flipboard. Originally developed for the iPad in December 2010, it has since made it to all iOS and Android devices and was named Apple’s iPad App of the year 2010. The App aggregates social network feeds and uniquely reformats them in a flipbook-style magazine. It gives the formulaic, list-style content of Twitter a whole new feel by adding images and effectively styling it up. The really clever part is that if your friends have posted links, such as Tweets of interesting posts they’ve read, you’ll also see an image and an excerpt of the item. The App trawls through the feed and then goes about finding the content it needs to put together your personalised magazine. They have also very recently integrated audio, making sound omnipresent throughout its social magazine.
Using these tools means that social networks needn’t be another source of stress in our already busy lives, and can remain as the interesting, entertaining hobbies that they were intended to be. Now if only someone would design an aggregator for everything else on my to-do list.