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What is FriendFeed?

Friday, 30 January 2009 — by

FriendFeed logoSo you’ve heard of FriendFeed, right? Here’s where I explain, in simple terms, FriendFeed for avid bloggers and serial social media over achievers…

So what is FriendFeed?

FriendFeed is a web service that allows you to add all your updates from social media websites, social networks, blogs and social bookmarking and micro-blogging services into one place, along with the more common feed types like RSS and Atom.

FriendFeed also allows you to subscribe to the streams of other people, such as family members, friends and work colleagues.

Currently, there’s support for fifty nine different feed sources, and this list is growing all of the time. Popular services include: YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Brightkite, Twitter, Flickr, Netvibes, Digg, Google Reader, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Seesmic, Photobucket, Last.fm, Reddit and Furl, covering categories such as: blogging, photos, music, news, video, comments, status, bookmarking and books.

So there’s something for everyone.

Wayne Smallman's user profile on FriendFeed

What’s the advantages of using FriendFeed?

If you’re like me, you have a lot of things going on! I’m found on Twitter, Delicious, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Mixx to name but a few social media websites and social networks. The problem is, if you’re really active, those really important things you’re saying or sharing with other people might not be seen by everyone else in your whole social network.

So if you are like me and you’re bookmarking lots of web pages and blog articles, FriendFeed is a greet service to use because you can aggregate all of those different streams of updates into one place.

What else can I do with FriendFeed?

FriendFeed has what are called Rooms, which are functionally the same as Groups on Facebook. You can start your own Room or join someone else’s. You can even invite people to join your Room.

Why have a Room? Let’s say you’re into Lego (OK, bad example, but I loved Lego as a kid), or coffee (random, I know), you can start a Room for just about anything and invite others who’re into the same things. Once you’ve joined, you can subscribe to the Room feed, as can anyone else. So rather than see a stream of updates about everything, you see updates for Lego and coffee only.

If you like your updates live, there’s a real time feed viewer, so you can see things being added by your followers as they’re being posted from wherever they are.

real time activity viewer in FriendFeed

You can comment on items that have been posted by friends, as well as indicate whether you liked those items.

FriendFeed will group any related items. So if you’ve posted a review of a web page to StumbleUpon, FriendFeed will then attempt to grab that article where ever else it’s featured in your social network.

comments and related items on FriendFeed

There’s also an interesting option called Favorites, which allows you to sort your followers into different groups:

“Friend lists enable you to organize your friends into groups. With friend lists, you can get updates from your family separately from your coworkers, or you can add an acquaintance to a list and remove them from your home feed.”

adding followers to Favorites on FriendFeed

Handy for anyone who has a mix of family and friends as followers. In the same way as a Room would work, when viewing any particular Favorite, you only see the updates from those people. The big difference between Rooms and Favorites is that people have to subscribe to a Room while you add people to a Favorite yourself.

As you can see, FriendFeed really isn’t that complicated. At it’s core, FriendFeed is like a big box to keep all of your social stuff in, neatly organized yes, but loose enough so not to lose things.

What are the downsides to FriendFeed?

There isn’t a huge amount of people using FriendFeed right now, certainly not when compared to Twitter, for example.

Then there’s the perception that FriendFeed is hard to use, but I disagree. Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop are complicated. But the problem is, people have become lazy from using Twitter:

“We routinely use exceptionally complex software each and every day of our business lives. Do we balk at using Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop? No, we don’t.”

I think the problem here is that some people see FriendFeed as competing with Twitter, when in actual fact, FriendFeed complements Twitter.

As a blogger, comments are the currency of your community — and then came social media! A consequence of social media is for people to comment and review those web pages and articles that we find and share. This takes the conversation away from our blogs and our communities. So in a sense, FriendFeed can dilute your community, if you’re not careful.

Not only do I like to track visits to the articles on my blog, I like to know who is visiting, too. You can sometimes see this information in the referring URL of a social network, where there’s often a username part listed. However, both FriendFeed and Twitter fail to list usernames in URLs, which can undermine your social media marketing efforts.

So is FriendFeed right for me?

The social web is only social because of people. If you know lots of different people across loads of different social networks, then FriendFeed is the perfect way for you to keep up-to-date with everything that’s happening with those people, to those people and around those people…

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Ed Richardson → Friday, 30 January 2009 @ 16:58 BDT

I like friendfeed (note the capitalisation :p ), particularly in the beta live feed view.

I enjoy the aggregation that’s possible for all of my feeds, a particular new one I’ve added that I find useful is my Disqus comments feed.

I then feed my friendfeed feed back into my Twitter which adds more variety to my Twitter feed. Also its an automated way of adding your RSS feed from your blogs to your Twitter feed (how many times can you say “feed” in one sentence!).

I find friendfeed fits somewhere in the middle between blogging and micro-blogging as far as the comments facility is concerned. Maybe semi-blogging.

The inclusion of imagery in the stream also adds a nice extra dimension that Twitter doesn’t have (unless your using PowerTwitter)

It’s a great tool, that perhaps with its “complex” interface may remain the domain of “serious” users for longer than Twitter. Whether this is a benefit or dis-benefit is your own decision.

Heidi Cool → Sunday, 1 February 2009 @ 6:02 BDT

I don’t use FriendFeed nearly enough, though I am pulling a lot of stuff into it. (Too much actually I’m now getting duplicate content that I should sort out.) New users may also want to watch Scoble’s 20 things about FriendFeed video. It’s a handly little tutorial.

Sorry Comments are close. Quite possibly for a good reason. Share your thoughts on some of my other posts or contact me directly.

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