Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Using High School Stereotypes to Compare FriendFeed to Twitter

Is FriendFeed the Coolest App No One Uses? I can’t argue- I’ve recruited countless people to Twitter but none so far to FriendFeed, despite crouching in a dark corner of a bar showing some friend the FriendFeed interface on my iPhone because “I can’t describe it”. A recent verbal roll call by Alex Scoble showed 300 over a 24 hour period. Even with double that number, if you take into account people who didn’t care to respond or don’t follow Alex, it’s still paltry compared to Twitter. OK, then dial Twitter back 2 years, and it still doesn’t compare well. Thing is, why are we comparing FriendFeed to Twitter? If you read Arrington’s article and read the quotes by Paul Bucheit- a FriendFeed founder- he tends to also wonder why the services are being considered competitors. In fact, the “raw feed” of Twitter to FriendFeed (in Bret Taylor’s words- another founder)* points more towards Twitter as a feeder to the application than a competitor.

Twitter does not pretend to be a feed aggregator, FriendFeed is one. It’s easy to describe Twitter- You write a message of 140 character word length. I would say FriendFeed’s description is: read your friend’s feeds and comment on them.

OK let me try again: I send my Last.FM, Flickr, Twitter, GoodReads, and Google Reader feeds to FriendFeed. All of my buddies can see what I’m listening to, reading, microblogging, and photographing. Vice-versa. It usually ends up with my obsession with MC Hammer and my friends teasing me about other bad old Hip Hop.

OK, maybe it’s best shown than described:
During the elections I was far more informed than most people I knew, because I’d get Digg-style “top of the heap” articles read via FF instantaneously. Our live-feed room on the elections was bar none the best to hear insights, fact-check, and ridicule the speakers.

Last note: people compare FriendFeed (FF) to Twitter mostly, I suspect, because there’s just nothing like FF out there, and Twitter is the closest, but it’s not a competitor. Twitter’s more like the hot high school football player that occasionally notices you at dances, but is slowly blowing out his knees and doesn’t study, and FriendFeed is the funny, charming computer geek that carries your books for you and opens doors. A little harder to get to know, but a lot more value.

* talked to Bret Taylor after a MySql meeting regarding the database structure which is totally fascinating in its own right: “How FriendFeed Uses MySql to Store Schema-less Data”.

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Written on Wednesday, 08. April 2009 at 17:12 In the category social networks. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

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  1. I agree, friendfeed is great I wrote about it being a worthy RSS central…

    But now with the new layout I think it’s just stepped up a gear to. :)

    I don’t agree with Arringtons article tho… he rarely uses it and has bashed it from the start, so he has no place to make a judgement on it. :)


    Comment: Rob Sellen – 08. April 2009 @ 5:31 pm

  2. Fantastic thoughts. I think you really hit the nail on the head here.

    Comment: Mathew Ballard – 08. April 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  3. I don’t agree, as I’ve written in my own blog. Unless they each come up with two widely divergent business models, which is highly unlikely, they’re competitors.

    Comment: Dawn Douglass – 08. April 2009 @ 5:57 pm

  4. Dawn- can you repost your blog url? the one linked here is broken. Thanks.

    Comment: banane – 08. April 2009 @ 6:29 pm

  5. Great article, Rob, on FF as an “artists’ row” the visual element can’t be overestimated.

    Comment: banane – 08. April 2009 @ 6:34 pm

  6. Thanks… :o)

    I agree, I mean for an artist, photographer, like Thomas Hawk, it’s a great way to share good work, your own or others.

    There are things I have found on friendfeed I would never have seen otherwise, not In a lifetime and everyone there shares good stuff most of the time too. So everyday there gives you something new.

    Can’t agree more with Alex Scobles way of explaining twitter and friendfeed, twitter is like a pager, friendfeed is like a full blown phone. :o)


    Comment: Rob Sellen – 09. April 2009 @ 7:35 am

  7. I have never considered FF even though I keep reading about it. I think what keeps me from jumping in is that it seems like a lot more work than lets say Twitter.

    I will have to test it out at some point, thanks for the post.

    Comment: Michael – 13. April 2009 @ 12:07 pm

  8. Hey now, you converted me to sign up for FriendFeed and I used it. Really I did. But then after a while I drifted back to Twitter. Now I mostly use FF for RSS distribution.
    I’m fickle I guess, but Twitter just fits me better for the way I use it.

    Every network has it’s own culture and FriendFeeds reminds me of the old IRC circles where the friends kinda hung and chatted with each other.
    FriendFeed is easier to get into than those old closed circles, but still it feels sorta clubby at times.

    I like the new interface OK, and I think I’ll give it another go and see if it sticks this time.

    Comment: Janet – 29. April 2009 @ 9:33 pm

  9. I’ve got to setup Disqus on here…

    Janet, the funny thing is that same adoption arc I’ve heard, as related to Twitter as well. For me, the more lasting, interesting connections have all come from FriendFeed, over Twitter. I think it was easier to adopt, at the time I tried, when the elections were going on, as the real-time and threaded discussions really lent themselves to FriendFeed over Twitter. Yeah, give it another try.

    Comment: Anna – 29. April 2009 @ 9:38 pm

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