Tuesday, August 11, 2009

get a friend feed: social media's diner

To understand this post, you need to see the artwork in my kitchen. The artist wrote:
There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other's cooking & say it was good.
I rarely report here on social media industry news of this type, but my circles are still buzzing--or stunned--about Facebook buying FriendFeed. You may not even know what FriendFeed is, if you're still experimenting with Facebook and Twitter. The key words in FriendFeed's "about" section say it all: the site is there to help you "discover and discuss." Call it the diner of social media, if you will. It's made discussion easy, taking aspects of Twitter (and lending some to Facebook), so you can "like," comment (at more length than on Twitter, publicly and privately), see pictures and video, hear audio, and more. It's built, like Twitter, on a more open premise than Facebook, so that you may have many subscribers or followers whom you don't actually know--and follow others in the same way. (Anyone can come into this diner, see.) That openness permits the discovery, and often, prompts discussion, opining, sharing and questions...a great back-and-forth.

While FriendFeed users mull the prospect of the site getting absorbed into Facebook (no decisions yet on that score), what's coming up again and again is that they value that stream of consciousness, the ability to be fed by the feed--even if they don't know the source in real life. They are, in effect, eating each other's cooking and (most of the time) saying it was good. It's an ear to the ground, a source of feedback, a way to find out what you didn't know or a different perspective...to listen, to ask and to share your thoughts. (Twitter's also a favorite of mine for the same reasons.) What struck me today: In the true sense of social networking, and just in case things don't stay the same, some users were trading their other coordinates -- blog URLs, emails or other ways to stay in touch -- so their FriendFeed communities could travel with them, wherever they may go. That's a powerful statement.

One way that FriendFeed allows you to cultivate that kind of relationship with others is its robust approach to sharing and search. When you post a video or photo, it's immediately visible within your post, which encourages people to pause, look and comment. And you can share privately, with direct-messaging options that include the ability to pull more than one person into a private discussion that's not visible to the feed--think about doing media interviews this way, for example, or collaboration discussions. Many of my best private social networking discussions happen this way. And since you can pull all your feeds, from Facebook and Twitter to many others, into FriendFeed, it can be a simplifying force in your online world--the one-stop shop. Search on FriendFeed also sings: It's comprehensive and, if you are feeding all your inputs here, can serve as your own private archive of your tweets, Facebook posts and more.

All this tells me that communicators of all stripes should be getting themselves a small-f friend feed, developing a set of knowledgeable and interested outside listeners and talkers with whom to converse. We talk a lot in the business world about getting out of your box and then we all wind up eating lunch at our desks, confirming our hunches with someone who won't challenge us and not taking the time to reach out to a disinterested--but interesting--observer for another view. FriendFeed is just one great example of how social media helps you do all that. I like the early word from Facebook that FriendFeed will be their R&D department, as that's exactly the function it fills for many of us. If you want to reboot your communications operation, where's your intelligence these days?


Tech said...

I think Facebook has bitten off more than it can chew.

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