Redefining FriendFeed

Posted on May 18th 2009

Jason Falls

Jason Falls

For the longest time I have had a rather eye-rolling reaction when people mention FriendFeed. The life streaming service certainly has its merits and aggregating all of your social activity into one place is a nice function. However, using FriendFeed as your primary place of interaction constricts the number of people you can interact with (not everyone uses FriendFeed), while conversely, avoiding FriendFeed means it becomes an impersonal, automated broadcaster of what you do.

I've always hated the fact people could comment on a Social Media Explorer post repositioned on FriendFeed.  And, unless I log in and monitor each post, I'd never know. Several application developers and companies have fixed that problem by aggregating comments into one place. Backtype does it. Disqus claims to, though their unification functionality doesn't seem to work on my blog. There are also plugins you can download that will integrate FriendFeed comments with those from your blog as well.

Image representing FriendFeed as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

But I must remember that each individual uses these applications in the ways that make the most sense to them. Just because Jason Falls doesn't use it, doesn't mean it might be useful for you.

Enter Laurence Borel, or Lolly to those of us who know her. Lolly, the author of Blog Till You Drop, and I met and chatted all afternoon Saturday about a variety of topics. When FriendFeed came up and she saw my eye roll, Lolly explained to me how she gets value out of the service.

Following someone on FriendFeed allows you a more holistic representation of their social media activity. It's more than just following someone's blog. You follow their life, in a sense. But most people follow anyone they know or those who follows them, etc. Lolly has decided to use the tool much more strategically. She is very selective in who she follows so that she only sees what the most important or influential people to her are reading, sharing, saying and writing. It's kind of a super personalized, all-inclusive RSS feed for just those you consider important enough to follow.

She is using the service not as another social network, not as a conversation point, but as a utility to help her know what her thought leader list is doing or up to. This cuts out a great deal of noise in Lolly's day. She gets more impactful information easier and with less hassle. She also cuts down on a lot of RSS feeds and time spent browsing her feed reader as now the most important blogs and information are available on FriendFeed. She can read her feeds with a lesser priority.

Lolly also reports FriendFeed offers a much more meaningful level of search for public relations and blogger relations folks because it's scanning the most important people to you, not everyone. You could use FriendFeed and this influencer tracking methodoligy to identify other blogs and bloggers worth adding to your list.

So I was proven wrong about FriendFeed by my own theory. Everyone uses the tools differently. Those who optimize them to produce the outcomes and payoffs they need most are those that can call themselves, “successful,” in using them.

This theory goes for other applications as well. The way I use Twitter may not be right for you, your company, etc. The way Ernst & Young uses Facebook may not make sense for your company. You have to find an appropriate way to use each tool and it will likely differ from those around you.

How do you use FriendFeed? Set it up as an influencer monitoring model and share some questions, comments or concerns you might have with the outcomes. Can you discipline yourself to only follow 10-20 people on FriendFeed or is the temptation to grow another network too much? Are there other uses not even mentioned here we should let others know about? And what about your approach to Twitter? Facebook? Blogging? Do you do it differently than the norm? If so, how and why.

As always, the comments are yours.

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