FriendFeed: A Guide for Twitter Users

logo-b.pngWith all the frustration lately about Twitter going down, disabling features, and developers leaving the service, people still keep coming back for some reason. Frankly, there just isn’t anything that can fully replace Twitter. I think people have simply gotten so used to Twitter and have figured out their own ways to use the service, that moving to a new service and spending time adopting new ways of organizing communication is just too much for most people. Bring in FriendFeed – now, I know I have said previously that FriendFeed is not a competitor to Twitter, but they are getting closer and closer to being a reasonable alternative every day. At the same time, FriendFeed is just more stable and encourages conversation in ways that Twitter just can’t (especially when @replies are down!). I’d like to share with you a few ways that you can use FriendFeed to kick that Twitter habit, and utilize the full power of FriendFeed at the same time.

Not on FriendFeed yet? Sign up and see what you’re missing!

Joining is the first step. Be sure you have given it all of your favorite Social Networks, and especially your Twitter credentials. Don’t be overwhelmed though – the tips I’m about to give you will help ease some of that frustration, and most importantly, try it out for a little, give it a chance like you did Twitter, and you’ll begin to see why it’s so powerful. Remember that when you joined Twitter it didn’t make much sense at first either. It took getting in and using it for awhile before you were able to realize how powerful it actually was.

Find all your Twitter friends that are on FriendFeed and add them

One of my biggest worries of moving to another service from Twitter is abandoning the near 900 people following me. For some of you this number is much smaller, and therefore should be a little easier to migrate. There is a nice little program by Eric at InternetDuctTape (click on the link to get it yourself!) that searches through all your Twitter contacts, and then using the Google Social Graph API, identifies which of those are on FriendFeed. Run this now (sorry, Windows only – I ran mine on Parallels), and it will automatically send friend requests to all of your Twitter friends that are currently on FriendFeed.

This is only the first step to migrating your Twitter network over to FriendFeed and using the service on its own. Only those Twitter friends that are already on FriendFeed will be able to see your updates (you can actually post updates via the “share” button in FriendFeed), but now you can tell those other Twitter friends to come follow you on FriendFeed if they want to continue receiving your updates and join the conversation. The advantage FriendFeed gives you is that for every update and/or link posted to the service, users can actually have a discussion underneath that link as a community instead of guessing what it is they are talking about.

I fully expect someone to write a script (maybe socialtoo.com?) that will automatically post your “shares” on FriendFeed out to your Twitter account, with a link back to FriendFeed to discuss the shared post eventually. Look to see that soon, and all your posts can now be on FriendFeed with no worries of abandoning your Twitter network.

Get an imaginary friend (or two or three)

FriendFeed supports the concept of “Imaginary Friends” for all of those you follow on Twitter and other services that aren’t on FriendFeed. Simply click on the “friend settings” tab in the upper-right of FriendFeed, then click “imaginary” in the navigation. Click on “Create an imaginary friend”, and follow the instructions to create a name for that friend and what network they belong to. Now, those friends’ updates will appear in your list of other friends’ updates on FriendFeed, and you won’t miss a thing!

Reply to your friends’ Twitter statuses via FriendFeed

Now that you have all your Twitter friends in FriendFeed, on any post they make, you can reply, directly from FriendFeed! On any Twitter post, click on “Comment”, then comment and check “Also send this comment as an @reply twitter from (your username)”. Now, when you post your comment, not only will it appear under that user’s Twitter post in FriendFeed for other FriendFeed members to discuss, but it will also send an @reply to Twitter itself so the conversation continues on Twitter as well! I only suggest using this for those Twitter friends that are not on FriendFeed, because, hey – you’re trying to give up Twitter, aren’t you?

Get very familiar with FriendFeed mobile

Just today FriendFeed announced a new iPhone version of its service. The new design is very intuitive and easy to navigate, and I can only imagine will get better over time! The coolest feature is a link to their built-in ability to send photos to FriendFeed that you take on your cell phone. If you send any photo to yourusername+your_api_key@mail2ff.com it will automatically post it to FriendFeed for others to discuss and talk about. The iPhone version gives you the e-mail address you need to send to, but you can also get your api key via https://friendfeed.com/account/api if you don’t have an iPhone.

The other service to check out if you don’t have an iPhone is fftogo.com. FFtoGo.com gives a nice, mobile-formatted version of FriendFeed to your cell phone. Up until today I was using this, and it works very well at viewing what your friends are posting and discussing, what you’re posting and discussing, and who is discussing on the things you post.

Install the FriendFeed Comments Plugin for your blog

Okay, there’s really nothing in Twitter that compares with this or can compare with this, but it does demonstrate the power of FriendFeed. The FriendFeed comments plugin enables you as a blogger to allow your readers to comment to the blog post right on FriendFeed, and read what is being said on FriendFeed, right on your blog! It also shows who has liked it, and lets your users like it right from your blog. Ideally, you could really remove the current comments on your blog and completely replace it with this. You can see this in action right below this blog post above the Disqus comments by clicking the “show” link next to “Join the Discussion on FriendFeed”. Comment there and then go to FriendFeed and check it out!

RSS, RSS, RSS! — Learn to organize your FriendFeed data

Almost every page on FriendFeed has an associated RSS feed with it. Someone asked me today why Summize doesn’t support FriendFeed – that’s because FriendFeed has Summize functionality built into it! Open any page in FriendFeed, then scroll all the way down to the bottom, and click on one of the links next to “other ways to read this feed”. You can have new items on that page sent to your RSS Reader, Facebook, Google Reader or iGoogle, or even e-mail!

This has power. One way I use Twitter is I follow all those that follow me (using socialtoo.com), but I send all those I really need to pay attention to, and that are most interesting to my cell phone via SMS. FriendFeed doesn’t support SMS, but it does have another way to send you new updates of a particular user. Simply click on any username in FriendFeed (or just go to http://friendfeed.com/username or http://friendfeed.com/username/discussion if you want all of their likes and comments as well), and now all of their posts will be delivered to you via RSS! Add to this the power of Google Reader on your Cell phone and you have a superb way of staying up to date on the discussion of the most interesting people you follow.

One other way to utilize this is through the search box on the right of FriendFeed. Type in any text in the search box that you want to “track” (note that track is currently broken on Twitter), add the resulting page to your RSS Reader, and now all found discussions with that term contained (for instance, your brand, or your competitor’s brand) will be delivered automatically to your RSS Reader. This is powerful!

Use Twhirl for all the rest!

Now that you’re paying attention to all of the most interesting people you are following, you’ve brought over all those you can from Twitter, you’re tracking the terms you want, and you’ve integrated FriendFeed commenting onto your blog, you may want to skim over all the rest.

While the FriendFeed UI should be sufficient, Twhirl is an unbelievable tool for general FriendFeed use. From Twhirl you can skim over all of your friends’ posts and comment and discuss on the interesting posts, or just watch all of the posts you have sent to FriendFeed along with anything you have liked or commented on. If you click on the “Me” tab and “like” the interesting posts of your friends, you can then track the conversations that go on within each of those posts that you “like”.

USE the service!

The most important advice I can give to any Twitter user looking to move over to FriendFeed is to use the service! More people will talk about your posts, more people will “like” your posts, and your experience and conversation will get much better the more you use the service. If you just use it as an aggregator and don’t “like” or comment it will still be an interesting tool, but it just can’t replace Twitter until you start using it.

In the meantime, come follow me on FriendFeed at http://friendfeed.com/jessestay. Join the discussion below! I think you’ll start seeing me much more over there, and much less on Twitter as we all begin to utilize the full functionality of FriendFeed. Let’s just face it – we’re all getting tired of this Twitter downtime!

UPDATE: Sasha Kovaliov made the point (on FriendFeed) that I had the fftogo.com link wrong (I had it as ff2go.com). Thanks for the correction, and I’ve corrected it now.

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173 thoughts on “FriendFeed: A Guide for Twitter Users

  1. I completely agree with a lot of what you are saying .. but in perticular, “but it just can’t replace Twitter until you start using it.” is kinda the sentence I'd like to comment on. The fact is, FriendFeed is, and has been, and probably will be unless major work is done, a news aggregator and commenting system. There is no way, no matter how you use it, that it can replace all the things Twitter does. And why should it? One of the reasons FriendFeed is great is because it gathers all of your information into a single feed, and this feed is comprised of all of your Feeds from different places. Louis Gray Posted : “Twitter is just a topping of FriendFeed's pizza. Not everyone agrees on toppings.”. Like she said, Twitter is a website to use on top of Friendfeed and in conjunction with it. Twitter is a Status Microblog, you post your current status to it, hence the “What are you doing?” phrase at the top of the update box. FriendFeed simply allows you to share things easily, comment on those items, and carry on a conversation. It doesn't matter what site you use to create the items. You can stop using Twitter, and start using FriendFeed, but you can't move over. They are very different sites.

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