Once Twitter’s update notification feature showed to be successful, a lot of other social networks developed their own status update feature. The result: too many profiles to update, too little time. It became obvious that there was a demand there that could potentially convert into business. Two leading services address that specific demand: Ping.fm and Hellotxt.
When I look at a new Web service, the service that it provides is secondary in my opinion. What I need to know first is “is it easy to access and interact with? Is it really saving me time?” If the answer is a yes, then I am interested to know what the service is all about. In a Web 2.0 world, saving users a minute a day in accessibility means saving users 6 hours in a year. And that’s only for a minute…
Both services offer to update your status on a wide variety of social networks. This blogger made a list of social networks you can plug Ping.fm in, but it works for both services.
Also, both services enable you to update your status remotely (sms, mobile, email, IM), meaning you don’t have to go to hellotxt.com or ping.fm to update your statuses. I personally use the Gtalk extension to update from my email inbox (along with other ways that are even more convenient).
The two services are different mainly for this reason: With Ping.fm through Gtalk for example, you can specify to which specific social network(s) you wish to send an update. Maybe you don’t want to talk the same talk on LinkedIn and Twitter. Simply pre-fix your updates with @li to send it only to LinkedIn for example.
Ping.fm also has a shorter short url: ping.fm vs hellotxt.com (7 characters vs 12). That’s 8.5% of your tweeting real estate eaten up by hellotxt.com, compared to 5% for ping.fm.
Where the two services really are different is in the direction they are taking. Ping.fm focuses on being a universal box dialog to update any social networks from literally any device.
Hellotxt is more interesting for the alpha features that are being slowly brought up to the site. There is a new tab on hellotxt called “friends status” that is unfortunately leading to this message as of today:
We are working to improve this page.
Some new additions are still obscure on Hellotxt, like those icons next to my accounts in my settings page:
They don’t seem to activate anything just yet, but it seems like Hellotxt is building a social network around status updates. These icons above would – I guess – define how you would like to share your info on each social network. I am not sure I want one more social network in my list, but we always say that, and sometimes we are proven wrong.
Personally, I’m a Ping.fm guy. It lets me specify to which networks I am updating to, and that’s really all I personally need from such a status update service.