Why I Have Resisted FriendFeed

I stand in the world without a FriendFeed. It may be a slightly darker, colder less RSS-blissful place, but I am okay with that for the moment.

If you’ve been trapped under some Web 1.0 rock, FriendFeed is an aggregate service that allows you to link all your social media profiles, blogs and services into one site and feed — Lifehacker can walk you through getting one and Tamar Weinberg analyzed it for us. With your account and page on FriendFeed created, you can connect with friends and contacts to follow the feed from their page and give them your own online activity feed.

In the end, through all your connections on FriendFeed, you create one massive RSS feed of doom that tracks all the actions of your friends online. Why would I resist such a thing of wonder?

To tell you the truth, I have been tempted to jump into FriendFeed for quit awhile ever since Robert Scoble began championing it even while it began to fracture commenting on blogs, but I have several reasons to wait on this one.

Online Account Zen – I’m a Minimalist

Call me a commitment-phobe, but I simply don’t want another account online. I have a profile on almost every major social media service, and yes, the idea of having it all linked together appeals to me.

Unfortunately, I don’t want to sign up for a service JUST to aggregate all my other services. I am an account minimalist and have recently been taking stock and collecting all my various accounts online. The count is already very high. With privacy concerns on every site where I sign up and port my online existence, I don’t want to put myself out there unless it’s really necessary.

Coming Soon…from someone else

The aggregation FriendFeed provides is something I see happening in the social media networks where I already participate, so why move and invest in a new social network?

Unlike some media powerhouses and major blogging moguls, it takes me some time to promote an online service to my many Web 1.0, non-blogging friends, create email invites, offer explanations and grow my network. It’s not worth it for me to go through all that trouble if FriendFeed will soon be competing with the services I already use.

I’d rather wait for Facebook or Google to integrate all my other social media feeds so that I have a one-stop shop for all interaction. It looks like my wait-and-see approach might pay off too since Facebook is already implementing FriendFeed-like features.

Bringin’ da Noise

As Scoble himself and others have pointed out, early adopters tend to thrive with a lot of noise. While I would love to be able to digest everything going on, and I enjoy the noise on Twitter, I am not sure that more noise in my life would add value.

I am limited to what I can easily track daily in my RSS feed reader. Blog posts, Facebook, Pownce and Twitter overflow my inbox and RSS feeds each morning.

Another online service that repeats some of the same messages would be overkill. I need no more sources to sift through every morning — at least not until I do another feed reader audit.

Fragmenting Comments

As a blogger, I have really enjoyed the feedback from hosting conversations about my ideas in the comments. Okay, Okay, I’ll admit it. I like the ego boost of getting comments as well.

With FriendFeed, my posts collect their own comments in various places that never ping back to my blog. These comments are never shared with regular readers. Even though there are now ways of pulling comments out of FriendFeed, it doesn’t catch all of the discussion, which is scattered throughout FriendFeed as Scoble explained (number 9), never to be reunited.

Spreading the discussion across different networks and feeds shatters the commenting system of blogs in my opinion. I love sharing my digital content, but I do enjoy that it all comes home — comments, trackbacks, social media shares and emails — to my main domain.

If FriendFeed would unite all the conversations happening on one item within their own network and then, minding privacy restrictions, port that conversation back to the original blog, I could be happy with the way the service shares blog posts.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

While I like the idea of aggregating all my social interaction, I have different networks and relationships within the various social networks. For example, I use Facebook for a great deal of personal interaction with people that I have met and known off-line. My network there is a little more personal. On the other hand, my Twitter followers and follows are mostly people I have never seen in real life. Twitter is like my great big cocktail party.

Combining these networks into one feed and joining with friends from both networks would be similar to hosting a party with your great grandparents and your drinking buddies in attendance. Now, I don’t have anything to hide in that situation, but you get the idea.

I maintain a pretty unified social presence across all services, but for those who do not, connections originally from one social media service might be bored or offended by your social actions and blogging within another service. As Tamar pointed out, the watch of others could make you censor what you do online.

In the end, I’ll probably cave…

FriendFeed certainly has a great deal of benefits and a lot going for it. If they have the motivation beyond dominating lifestreaming aggregation, they could scare or possibly overtake Google in the search market with their wealth of social, human-generated data. If they can accomplish that, the company should be around for a long time or until “the next Google” — has “the next Google” become a scary bedtime story that we tell to children yet?

In the interest of keeping it simple, I will try to hold my ground and wait for this whole aggregation business to mature. While I love to root for the new guys, I am hoping that Facebook or Google can implement the same kind of aggregate service so that I can simplify my daily online routine…but I might eventually cave for you, FriendFeed.

UPDATE — May 22, 2008: This post has been shared in FriendFeed. Scoble thinks I’ll cave with the conversation going on there. We’ll see how long I last outside of the FriendFeed.

UPDATE: I caved.

Why I Love Twitter and Became ProBlogger/YouTube Famous

Last month, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net asked his Twitter followers — that includes me — why they loved Twitter. He took those responses and turned them into a video slideshow on YouTube enhanced with a rocking instrumental track.

Check me out around 4:03 AND AGAIN at 4:17. Yeah, that’s right — twice. Don’t worry. I’ll sign autographs at the end of this post. I just couldn’t capture my thoughts in 140 characters.

While most people highlighted Twitter’s ability to create a virtual water cooler or bring a bit of social to the desktop of those who work solo at home, my response was simply this:

I love twitter b/c it keeps me up to date on the latest happenings and makes it easy to share interesting finds.

Before going a little deeper to say…

Most people I talk to are outside of the contacts I have in real life, so I get exposed to things I may not have seen otherwise.

To expand on what I twittered — see, I told you I couldn’t keep it to 140 characters — Twitter has thus far been my forum for geeking out and releasing my blogosphere-hugging link monkey. It satisfies my fear of missing something by allowing me to listen in and respond to the conversations of hundreds of individuals that I admire/watch/read but never meet for coffee.

The real value in Twitter for me is being able to listen in on the thoughts of like-minded Internet junkies. It’s like being a talking fly on the wall in a Web 2.0 startup or a major blog. I find things on Twitter that I wouldn’t catch anywhere else, and I follow others who have interesting things to say even if I can’t keep their blog in my RSS reader due to the overload.

Twitter is also my release for early-adopter-itis. Despite what the walking-two-miles-in-the-snow, non-Internet types might believe, friends from my own generation have not completely jumped aboard the twit-train or the Internet. While Facebook has gone mainstream, I am, for the most part, alone among my off-line friends in my Twitter usage and social network-aholism. I often explain Internet memes to friends and co-workers, but in Twitter, I get to join a cloud of people that know what’s up online. Is Twitter the Cheers bar of the Internet future?

I haven’t gotten the return value of a Scoble just yet due to the “friend divide” that Scoble defined. My growing army of followers don’t yield the huge number of responses that a ProBlogger can amount, but regardless, I have found value in Twitter because the people I follow keep me in the loop and make me, as Scoble said, “smarter, richer, cooler, and funnier” — and better looking.

Time to work: Public Relations pitching in a social media world

Pitching bloggers, just like traditional media outlets, takes research and significant effort. To be effective, you really have to know your audience and what will interest them.

Off-topic pitches are a bad first impression, and they can stick with you if you are unlucky enough.

With the growing number of social media communication tools and the rampant abuse of journalists’ email addresses, more and more journalists opt to require that public relations practitioners reach out to them through their social network of choice. Bloggers and the stars of online media are leading this movement.

Brian Solis highlighted several preferred contact methods of the big names of the blogosphere today.

Some like Facebook while others are incredibly turned off when you bring business to their wall.

Several ask that all pitches be twittered to them and add a little bonus pressure to PR reps to cram their message into just 140 characters — if the message is really that good, you should not need all 140.

ReadWriteWeb‘s Marshall Kirkpatrick prompted Brian Solis’ post after he shared that his favorite method of receiving pitches was through RSS feeds. Bloggers have started to post this sort of information online to help us all out.

Brian highlighted Kirkpatrick’s opinion on getting something outside of the (in)box:

He summarizes what you should do this way, “PR people, please send us the RSS feeds of your clients’ blogs and news release. The full fire-hose of company news and updates for us to pick out what’s interesting, someplace outside of our email inboxes, free of dreadful press release rhetoric (skip to the second paragraph where details usually are, then skip past any executive quotes and hope there are readable details somewhere) – that sounds like a dream come true. I know that’s where I get most of the stories I write about, not from email pitches. Send both, but company feeds are likely to be looked at more closely.”

RSS feed pitching encourages the growing trend of corporate blogging, and in the process of demanding just a feed, Kirkpatrick is also taking away the control, the choice, that PR reps have in what they choose to send out about their clients. Is that such a bad thing? Giving the journalists more info about you on a regular basis and letting them highlight what they will?

Kirkpatrick’s post points out one particular tech-savvy PR practitioner who used Yahoo Pipes to create one massive feed of all his clients. Very clever. I’m jealous.

Read Brian’s complete post for several detailed looks at what prominent bloggers and journalists desire from their PR friends.

As each journalist better defines their pitch acceptance process, it’s on all public relations professionals to do the research.

Almost every blogger that has made up their mind has a contact page or post detailing how they like for PR people to reach them, and off-line journalists are speaking out to inform PR people what they like to see as well.

Find it and follow it or reach out to journalists and ask them what they like before you shoot off an email.

As Brian put it: “Yes, it’s time consuming. But this is about relationships and not about broadcasting spam.” Well said, Brian. Well said.

Syncing Social Updates: Using Twitter with Facebook and Pownce Syncing

Twitter has the hype. Competitors like Pownce are springing up to offer more, but it’s hard to beat a simple 140-character messaging service. It’s simple.

Marketers and public relations professionals have embraced the service and seen how useful it can be to connect with publics. Some analysts champion it as the best new opt-in direct marketing network.

For general users, Twitter is a great way to stay in touch with all your friends and broadcast what you are doing. Your messages can be met with no response or could start up a conversation–even while you are out if you forward your Twitter to a cell phone. Unlike a blog, you don’t control the conversation with comment moderation, and if you are on the public timeline, anyone can see what people are talking about.

The beauty of it is that you are always connected with one message sent, but if you are utilizing Twitter-like services in Facebook or competitors, it can difficult to keep the tool simple so that you can update all your networks at one central location.

Through doing some research on message boards and the Web, I found an easy way to link up your Facebook status, your Twitter updates and your Pownce updates. You could probably easily apply it to any other service you do as well.

Here are the steps to sync your Pownce updates with your Twitter updates:

  1. First off, if you are going to link Pownce to Twitter, you need to set up an account at Twitterfeed.com. Twitterfeed provides a nice little service to sync RSS feeds into your Twitter updates. You can have Twitterfeed check for updates as often as every 30 minutes or just every 12 hours. The service uses OpenID, a handy universal login option that is becoming more popular online, so don’t hesitate to create one if you don’t have one already. WordPress.com logins even work as an OpenID.
  2. Once you have an account at Twitterfeed, you can syndicate your Pownce updates through your public feed. Just login to Pownce and click on the link to your “public profile” in the bottom of the right sidebar. On the “Public Notes” header just above all your messages, you’ll see a tiny orange RSS symbol (orange square with three curved white lines inside) that you can click on to get the address of your public RSS feed.
  3. Setup your Pownce feed as an input RSS feed for Twitterfeed and set it to update every 30 minutes. You can customize all the feed options however you wish to make it work for you.

Now, anything you post to Pownce will also be posted to Twitter–you don’t have to choose! Unfortunately, if you would prefer your Twitter updates to update to your Pownce so you can use a program like Twitteroo or Twitteriffic, you are in no luck until the Pownce loosens up a bit with their API. Pownce offers a nice software tool though.

I would suggest that if you run any blogs, you try out also feeding your RSS feeds from your blogs into Twitter on a more infrequent basis–like every 6 or 12 hours. Posting blogs to the Twitter public timeline can attract attention to a young site or start up conversation on the latest buzz topics. You can also make it easy for friends to see when you have posted an update. Just don’t post up so many that you make Scoble look like an absentee twitterer.

Now that your Twitter and Pownce are linked together, you may want to set up your Twitter to sync with your Facebook status so that you don’t have to login to Facebook or text Facebook directly to change it. This one is much easier.

Here are the steps to getting your Twitter updates with your Facebook status:

  1. Login to Facebook and seek out the TwitterSync application.
  2. Set up your login information for Twitter inside TwitterSync and configure the options to fit your purpose. After that, you are good to go. TwitterSync lets you change the verb that comes before your status updates, and now, even adds a filter.

I talked to the developer of this app, Dustin Brewer, when I first started getting this sync working to suggest the addition of the filter for those of us who have blog RSS feeds going into Twitter. I didn’t want my blog posts syncing with my Facebook status since links don’t show up properly that way.

Dustin listened to my suggestion and added a filter in his latest release, so now you can filter out a specific word. Since I have three blogs feeding into Twitter, I use a little cheat by having the filter not sync any posts with “tinyurl” in them. Hopefully, I never post about tinyurl, but filtering just that word keeps any twits with links from Twitterfeed from updating your Facebook status and making it all messy. Only my all text, personal updates go up on Facebook. If you are using Twitterfeed to promote your blogs and share your posts, this solution should work for you too.

Now, since I have the Pownce software installed on my desktop, I can update Pownce right on my desktop and watch the same message sync with Twitter and Facebook in just a few minutes. Try it out for yourself, and keep it simple.

If you want to thank me for this post or just keep up with my latest, follow me on Twitter and send me a message.