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Microblogging emerged several years ago as a more concise form of online posting, similar to text messaging. The idea emerged around 2005, referring to tumblelogs, which fused together different elements including links, quotes, and images. By 2007, the term “microblogging” had evolved and referred more specifically to services provided by sites such as Tumblr and Twitter: short, almost conversation-like bits of writing which were updated daily, hourly, or even minute-to-minute. Just like online writing and traditional blogging, there is a host of tools available to help aspiring microbloggers. Here are some of the best:
If Twitter is your microblogging platform of choice, then TwInbox may be just what you need to take Tweets to the next level. This free app integrates directly with Microsoft Outlook, letting you update your Twitter feed directly from your inbox, along with receiving friend requests and archiving your Tweets in the same way as email. Not only does this let you keep an easily-searchable history of everything you’ve microblogged, but it also lets you quickly shorten URLs with built-in bit.ly support, access graphs of your Twitter usage, and manage multiple accounts all from the same inbox. TwInbox is a must for business users, or any user who is tired of tabbing back and forth between Outlook and your Twitter account.
It’s like Twitter, only not. Although it has the same kind of microblog underpinnings, Plurk has posts laid out in an hourly, horizontal timeline format which scrolls left and right. Clicking on a post lets you reply and shows you any comments or discussion generated by the original text. The interface isn’t quite as clean as Twitter, but the site has gained substantial ground among both US and Asian users over the last few years since it gives a better picture of a user’s activity than a text-only Twitter feed.
If traditional blogging is more your thing, try Zemanta for grabbing relevant images, articles, and other Web content that aligns with what you’re writing. You retain full control over what’s pulled and displayed, so if you’re working for a company you can avoid mentioning a competitor or make sure any pictures found are appropriate. In addition, Zemanta will suggest content from previous posts on your own blog that may be relevant, allowing you to provide both outbound and inbound links. The app is free but expect to see some promoted content, which you can use or discard at your discretion.
No matter what kind of writing you prefer, the free online service Wordcounter can help make sure you only post your best work. Copy and paste any text into the Wordcounter tool and it tells you which words you use the most — right down to “if,” “and,” or “but” if you want to get that specific. A quick scan lets you see if there are words you use too much or variants of the same word you rely on instead of choosing other, stronger alternatives.
Great microblogging posts are short, insightful, and entertaining. If you have the drive, the tools listed here can help make the most of your messages.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.