One of the more useful aspects of Twitter is the ability to quickly broadcast images, videos, and other media to your followers, making it an effective “mo-blogging” (mobile blogging) platform. Twitter doesn’t have this ability built in, though; sending pictures or video clips to Twitter requires using third-party services like TwitPic. Most Twitter clients will automatically upload images to these third-party hosts and add a link to your tweets, making the whole experience rather seamless.
This is a pretty good solution for casual sharing, but if you’re using Twitter as part of your personal branding efforts, or if you’re serious about the media you’re distributing, you might want more control over how your media is stored and displayed online. TwitPic and the other services don’t offer much in the way of page customization. They also scatter your content over several sites.
Then there’s the Twitter API limit, which limits access to only your last 3200 tweets. Assuming you’re sharing things on Twitter that are more important than what you ate for lunch and what cute thing your cat just did, you might worry about losing your online history as you build up past the 3200 mark.
Having discovered too late Twitter’s API limit (I’m almost to 3700 tweets at the moment), I decided I didn’t want to risk my images and other posted material becoming difficult to access – although much of my Twittering is purely personal, my stream is an important part of my online professional presence, and I want to make sure it’s not only archived but accessible moving forward.
Enter Posterous. Posterous is a lifestreaming service that sits somewhere between Twitter and a blog in terms of features. It’s not really intended for essay-like blogging, but rather for capturing images, video, web links, and thoughts quickly and easily. What’s important here is that you can post via email or even SMS message, and it can be set up to automatically forward anything you post to Twitter, Facebook, and a number of other services (including your own blog). Using Posterous, I can create a permanent record of the images, videos, audio clips, and other material I post to Twitter, and I can do so in a customizable, brandable space that offers me far more control over my content than I have with services like TwitPic or even Twitter.
Here’s how to set up and use Posterous as a home for all your tweetable media.
An unusual thing about Posterous is that you can’t just go to the website and sign up – you create an account by using the service.
Now you’re set up to post to Posterous and have those posts forwarded automatically to Twitter (and wherever else you choose).
While I think there are a lot of benefits to tweeting this way, even for regular text tweets, I have to admit there are also a few drawbacks. The most notable is that you have to remember to limit yourself to 130 characters (or less) in order to accommodate the link to your Posterous page. As if 140 characters wasn’t short enough!
Another drawback is that you can’t post through your favorite Twitter client – you have to use email or SMS to get your post to Posterous. In effect, Posterous becomes your Twitter client – but only for posting.
Finally, many Twitter clients offer previews of images on the more popular image- and video-hosting services. Your followers won’t be able to preview your images on Posterous in their Twitter client.
Obviously, I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, but you should be aware of them before taking the plunge yourself. If Twitter is not just a pastime for you, but a real part of your business or professional life, this is a way to take a lot more control over the content you post to Twitter.
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