Friday, June 1, 2012

SocialDitto Not Ready for Prime Time?

[Update: The primary developer for SocialDitto contacted me this morning to address the concerns I enumerate in this article. He and I are in the midst of a congenial discussion about what he can do better and what I in fact got wrong. I'll add another update to this post based on that discussion as soon as possible. - Will]

SocialDitto aims to be a simple online tool that lets you embed individual Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus posts in HTML documents (such as your website or blog.) You just copy the URL of a public post, paste the URL into a box at SocialDitto, and grab the resulting code.

The embedded posts are fully functional, displaying the user's avatar, a link to the post, and accompanying links. In some cases embedded posts include photo thumbnails, video stills, and link previews. In all cases, posts must be public to embed them; this is a good thing, as it protects users' privacy.

Here's one of mine:

Please hold. My computer is digesting a cow. #fb
3 days ago via Echofon · powered by @socialditto
 Reply  · Retweet  · Favorite

What's It Good For?

I was planning to play around with SocialDitto as a blogging tool. I wanted to hand-select and embed some of my best tweets and Facebook posts as new blog posts elsewhere, to perhaps lure new, similar-minded people into my social media universe. I might also have used the service to collect some of my favorite posts by others around certain themes.

Unfortunately, SocialDitto just isn't ready for prime time. Either that, or I don't know how to use the Internet as well as I thought I did.

Commence the Tedious Litany of Problems

SocialDitto is not without its kinks; it's still a new-ish product as of June 1, 2012. Every embedded post relies on a huge chunk of script and HTML. Tweets are a visual disaster. If an embedded tweet comes from a profile that uses a tiled background image, you get an ugly two-tone border. Even when you can get the preview to look right, it might not resolve properly when actually embedded. I managed to embed the above tweet and make it legible by turning my own Twitter profile completely white, but how many other profiles are like that? Not many.

Line breaks in Facebook posts disappear when embedded with SocialDitto, leaving you with one run-on paragraph. Google+ posts work great with SocialDitto—including line breaks—but link previews don't appear. And after my experience with the Twitter aspect, I didn't bother trying to embed either a Facebook post or a Google+ post. (You can try, if you want. Let me know how it went, in the comments here.)

The post URL box at SocialDitto appears to be all-in-one, but you really need to click the Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ logo above before pasting the URL into the box. Even then, you might get an error message; refreshing the page and trying again sometimes helps.

What SocialDitto Needs to Work on Right Now

SocialDitto was created by WebProNews—the same company that produced Twellow (awesome service) and LinkNotify (I've never tried it.) So I do have some faith in the company.

Maybe I'm doing it all wrong. That's highly possible. Right now, I think WebProNews needs to either simplify SocialDitto's embed code into one neat line of script, or eliminate all script and use plain HTML to standardize the way embedded posts appear. I recommend the latter, as script doesn't work in certain blogging platforms like (It does work in Blogger, sort of.)


Lots of bloggers seem to think SocialDitto is the bee's knees, but I think it's just an awesome idea, hastily executed.

Flawless Victory.

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