I was looking for a WordPress plugin to push posts out to various social networks. Since the demise of Ping.fm and PixelPipe, other services like Hello.txt and Posterous have picked up the slack a bit as far as giving publisher options to syndicate their content to their social networking accounts. But if you want to use Posterous to autopost to your social accounts from WordPress, you need some kind of plugin (or perhaps a service to watch your blog’s RSS feed) to initiate that first push out to Posterous, after which all the other dominos fall. Noting that the Posterize WordPress plugin has been abandoned, I stumbled upon the LinksAlpha Network Publisher WordPress plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/network-publisher/. So what does the LinksAlpha plugin do, and why have I labeled it “kind of scammy”?
How LinksAlpha Works
You add your various social networking accounts to the plugin’s dashboard through a somewhat tedious copying and pasting of API keys that you get from your LinksAlpha.com dashboard. You use the Network Plugin dashboard to adjust which sites you want to autopost out to every time you publish a post. There’s some debate about how well the individual functions work, but before you sign up for LinksAlpha you need to be aware of their business model.
Freemium – the Good Stuff Comes at a Price
There’s no mention of pricing on the LinksAlpha website (unless you include the legalese in their TOS) because they want you to believe it’s free. But it’s only free to add up to 5 sites in your dashboard, and only some of the sites. The following sites can be added for free (up to 5 separate sites per free account):
That means that they’re counting on you adding one of the other popular social networks which require you to upgrade to the $4.99/ month paid plan:
I have no problems with the ‘freemium’ business model, but LinksAlpha is going out of their way to hide any mention of pricing on both their homepage and their wordpress.org plugin page.
Here’s a typical user’s experience:
I was about to setup autopost from my blog to Plurk just now. Then I found this plugin and I thought I finally got the right solution. I installed it, activated it right away and was ready to get the API to make it work. To get the API I had to signup to LinksAlpha which is not a deal breaker by itself. However upon clicking the “Add plurk account” I got the notification to upgrade to pro account to get it done! What the hell is this? Nowhere in the plugin description mentioned about there’s a service you’d have to pay for, and that was nowhere to be found on the LinksAlpha website either! Yes, there’s no such mention of “Pro/Premium account” in the frontpage!
And to be honest, it’s not really a very well coded plugin. The API configuration is quite awkward, and I had trouble getting it to reliably post during my trial run.
Get SocialBacklinker Pro Instead
I’ve been more than a few times through the WordPress repository and there just aren’t any plugins that will autopost out to multiple sites. Luckily, a reader contacted me and told me about SocialBacklinker Pro. It’s a paid plugin that is well coded to autopost either your entire post, a snippet of your post or just a link out to multiple social accounts. it will also post your older content at random intervals to different sites, and can even use a list of RSS feeds and and start backlinking the links found in the RSS feeds on a per-account basis.