You may have noticed from my past writing that I’m not overly impressed with technology for its own sake. Sure, Google Chrome is nifty, and Twitter sure does suck up a lot of my time, but I’m rather more interested in how one might use technology than in the coolness factor of technology.

Sometimes, though, even I run across technology that just blows me away as I wonder, "How did they do that?"

Google Maps is an example; the multi-touch screen (introduced by Jeff Han, a computer scientist at New York University) is another example. Both of them were so insanely cool, and more importantly, immediately got me thinking about ways to use them.

I’d like to introduce you to another such technology: Posterous.

Posterous will change the way you do social media. And you should be investigating it like … right now. Go ahead, go check them out. I’ll be here. Start here. (Hey editor, can we get some Jeopardy music or something playing right about here?) Back already? Did you make sure to read about autopost? If not, go read that section right now.

Assuming you have read that section, let us pause to consider just how cool this is. I’m sure the computer scientists among us will be commenting below that Posterous breaks no new ground — it’s actually just a bunch of mashups of long-existing technology, and is broken or flawed or whatever in 100 ways. In a way, they’re right.

There’s nothing "new" in Posterous from what I can see. It’s just integrated in a simple, elegant way. Converting photo attachments in an e-mail to an image gallery for posting on the Web isn’t new — it’s just done very well here. Embedding a flash video player for a YouTube video isn’t new — it’s just done well here.

The ostensible reason why someone would use Posterous is to have a casual, easily updated blog. If messing around with WordPress settings — as easy as that may be — isn’t your cup of tea, then Posterous does indeed make for a nice home-on-the-Web for the casual blogger. Tumblr is another platform that provides a user-friendly blogging platform like this.

But that isn’t why you’re going to use Posterous. No, you’re going to use Posterous for the autopost feature. In fact, if Posterous did nothing else, it would still be a tool you will use every day. What rocks is that it does more.

Social networking is a time sink

Fact is, social networking (and by extension, social media) is a major time sink. My complaints about return on investment from social media mostly have to do with the notion that blogging, Facebook and Twitter are "free." They’re not free. They take up enormous amounts of time, and your time is worth something.

Spending four hours a day updating your blog, your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn profile, and Twittering a whole mess is fun perhaps, but it’s four hours you could have spent doing something else.

One of the top complaints I hear about social media and blogging from Realtors is, "I just don’t have the time." A productive Realtor might be spending most of her time in the field, meeting with clients, pitching business or showing homes. When she is in the "office," she may be following up on e-mails, phone calls or making outbound marketing efforts.

When is a busy, productive agent or broker supposed to have time to update the blog, update the Web site, update the Facebook profile and Facebook fan page, and LinkedIn, and then tweet out something interesting?

Posterous saves time

Using a social-sharing technology like Posterous immediately pays dividends if you have an active social media presence. Posterous can update multiple blogs and social media sites at once, reducing the amount of time you have to go back and forth.

For example, I’ve setup Posterous to post to my corporate blog, my Facebook profile and my Twitter stream. I then posted — as a test — this video to Posterous with the following comment: "This is the most innovative Web site I’ve seen in years. I’ve already written about it here. But this is also a test of Posterous and its autoposting feature, so here it is." …CONTINUED

A few seconds later, I get the notification that the "blog post" was posted to my personal Posterous page, and therefore autoposted out.

Here’s my Facebook profile immediately afterward:


And here’s my corporate blog:


And finally, here’s my Twitter updates:

With one fell swoop, I’ve updated my blog, my Facebook profile, and my Twitter with a single post. Without Posterous, I would have had to go to all three, log in to my blog, click "Add New Post," write up the post, embed the video, then hit "Publish."

I would then have had to copy and paste the text into Facebook, copy and paste the video, and update that. And finally, I would have needed to log in to Twitter, or open up TweetDeck, shorten the link to the YouTube video, and then post that with the appropriate words in the tweet.

It gets better

Simply for the autopost feature, I would have recommended Posterous. But for busy Realtors, Posterous gets better still. Because its main input format is e-mail, you can post from just about anywhere using an e-mail-enabled mobile phone. If the subject is something short and sweet, you can actually send your post via text-messaging — up to 110 characters.

There are filters in the e-mail so that you can selectively choose where you want the content posted. E-mail and your update pushes out to Twitter only. E-mail and it pushes to your blog and to your Twitter account.

And what I think is just an awesome feature for Realtors especially are two features: "Private Sites" and "Group Sites."

Private Sites allow you to set up a password-protected Posterous site that is hosted by Posterous itself. Only users you grant access to can see the content on this site, and the content posted to this private site does not get autoposted elsewhere. Here’s an idea for Realtors: Setup a private site for each and every one of your clients that you are working with. Give them access, then start CC’ing the private site on all of your correspondences.

Found a listing you think your buyer-clients might like? E-mail them, but also send to Posterous. Contract got executed? Scan it and e-mail the image to Posterous. This private site essentially becomes a simple and free client extranet. Your clients can also post simply by e-mailing the private site to make comments, give you direction, whatever. The best thing is that you have a permanent, running record of everything that has transpired between you and the client.

Group Sites lets you set up a sort of group blog simply by adding people and their e-mail addresses to a Posterous site. Members do not need to log in to Posterous or sign up. They just e-mail whatever they want posted to your site’s e-mail address. And this content does get autoposted.

So here’s an idea: set up a group site for your town, using your clients as the group members (since you have their e-mail address already), and add whoever else in town you know whose e-mail address you have. Oh … do get permission first, of course, and talk to them about it. Now you have created the beginnings of a hyperlocal community blog that will autopost to your blog, to your Facebook profile, to Flickr, to Twitter, etc. — and you don’t have to do all the writing.

Posterous is preposterously awesome

I’ll be spending more time on Posterous — as well as on Tumblr — and writing more about this in the future. But for now, suffice to say that I believe Posterous is just the first step in social-sharing technology. There are still problems and issues — for example, Posterous isn’t really good for auto-syndication of long posts that require formatting (like most of mine on Notorious R.O.B.). Services still need to be added — like LinkedIn. The hosted Posterous blog itself has no design, no formatting, and no editing, which limits its utility.

But those are all things that can be addressed. Today, this tool will change your social media habits and lead to new usage we haven’t thought of just yet. If you’ve already been using Posterous for awhile and you are an expert, share your knowledge and insights. For the rest of us: get on it, play with it, and tell me what you think.

Robert Hahn is managing partner of 7DS Associates, a marketing, technology and strategy consultancy focusing on the real estate industry. He is also founder of The Notorious R.O.B. blog.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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