Getting to Know FriendFeed – Janet Fouts

Getting to Know FriendFeed

FriendFeed just gets more interesting every day. Some people may say it’s too hard to use or it should have more or less features, but you have to look at FriendFeed for what it’s purpose is. FriendFeed was initially a place where you could bring your social network RSS feeds into one place and share your information and your favorite links with your friends and see theirs too. FriendFeed helps you share your stuff, discover the stuff your friends think is cool and discuss how cool it is. Simple right?

Soon after FriendFeed became popular people started forming “rooms” where they could focus sharing around areas of interest and through the “room” broaden their network by meeting other people with similar interests and share and discuss with them too. Social media took off and suddenly there were a LOT of social networks that could feed into your FriendFeed page. You can bring in micro-blogs, videos, blogs and all kinds of other content as well as your own thoughts for discussion. People can “like” what you post and/or comment on it and there are often spirited discussions around the topic from a wide range of people.

All of this can seem a bit overwhelming to a newbie, but if you start slow and follow a few easy guidelines you may find you use FriendFeed as a central repository for your social media information.

Setting up your FriendFeed page
Like all social media networks you want to start with your home page. Add an image, fill out your bio and add some of the RSS feeds to your other networks or blogs (if you have them) by clicking the add services link. Don’t feel like you have to put them all up right away, you can add more later. You might want to think a bit about which profiles you have you want to be your core and open for discussion. You can also link to the RSS feeds of feed readers like Google Reader or Netvibes and share your favorite feeds through FriendFeed.

You’ll also want to set up your email and IM settings. You can get daily or up-to-the-minute alerts when you get new subscribers or someone comments on your post.

Now that that’s out of the way, do some searches for keywords you are interested in, names of people you’d like to connect with, organizations or brands you’d like to hear about, or email addresses of people you’d like to invite to join you.

OK, so now you’ve got a bunch of fascinating information flowing into your FriendFeed page. It’s likely you’re overwhelmed by just how much of it there is. Don’t panic. There are tools to help stem the tide and make it easier to browse.

When you first sign up all your incoming feeds go into your home feed. Here you can quickly scan the most recent news and respond, but you can have as many lists as you want.

I create one for friends, family, clients, top posters and for each of my different areas of interest. I also have a sort of “A List” for people I want to make sure I don’t miss.

Sometimes somebody is at an event and live blogging it or on a rant about something on one of the services and swamping your feed with stuff you just aren’t interested in. You don’t have to stop following them. Just set a filter to hide the info from that person for a while. You can also hide particular feeds, though I’m not sure why you’d want to do that one.

Now let’s say you are fascinated by a new application and you want to hear everything that comes through FriendFeed about it. Do a search for it (Iphone app) and create a list of all the people talking about it.

While we are talking about search, FriendFeed lets you do some pretty cool stuff with their searches. You can add photos or files to your search to make it richer and then share your search on your feed, send a link to Twitter, Facebook or social bookmarking sites, or even embed the search on a blog or web site.

Groups (aka Rooms)
Friendfeed rooms recently changed to being called groups, but you’ll still hear references to both. These groups have a lot of uses. They can be just for fun, to talk about particular areas of interest, for groups of organizations to talk among themselves. You can choose to make your group private and decide if you want people to be able to vote on things or comment as well.

If you set up public rooms you accept a certain level of responsibility to keep them populated with interesting people and information for them to discuss. You have to feed the conversations or the room goes quiet and nobody comes there anymore. If you moderate this well, people will look to you as a resource and hey, you’ll BE a resource. Cool huh?

Being a good FriendFeed citizen
Do I have to repeat at this point that it’s not about you? Sure, you want your personality and your opinions to come through, but if you really want to be a good community member you need to support others as well. Before you post a link to a blog post you just read, do a quick search and see if somebody else has already started the discussion. If there’s a lot of buzz out there about the latest iPhone app why create a new thread?

Give credit where credit is due. If somebody tips you off to a good post, a feed you really got excited about, tell them thanks on FriendFeed. Link to one of their posts on FriendFeed, their blog or even another social media site to spread the love.

Don’t leave the conversation laying there waiting for you to respond. If you post something and get a lot of responses to it you might want to add your own thoughts to keep the conversation going. It’s not always going to go on forever, but it may be they’re thinking you’ve left the building.

Support somebody else’s position with data if you have it, or bring it to the attention of somebody who does. The idea here is to facilitate conversation as well as participate.

Remember that just like all your other networks FriendFeed can lend a hand in SEO too. Post links to new information on your blog, your other feeds and other files that mention you or your brand, but don’t over do it. This is about building relationships through sharing and that’s a two way thing. Share your links. Share other peoples links. Connect with people who have like interests. Discuss topics that interest you. Repeat.

This is an excerpt from my book, Social Media Success! You can pre-order a copy, or fan Social Media Success! on Facebook to win a free copy!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
John Pruitt

Janet Fouts, a voice of social reason :). The whole citizen section is a breath of fresh air.


I have a friendfeed account which is too noisy and too much information overkill……Looking to tidy them over the weekend with your tips here… 🙂


Let me know how it works for you, and if you find some new ways to use Friendfeed, please post your tips here to share, we’d love to hear them!


Leave a Reply: