The more I think about FriendFeed as a Twitter application the more sense it makes. FriendFeed has the potential to become the go-to communication and social networking service for 140+ characters. Currently when you need to continue a Twitter discussion elsewhere (because of 140 character limit), you only have two options: chat or email. Both of those choices are really inconvenient however because they require that you move the discussion to another location. A FriendFeed 3.0 version (FF + full Twitter app integration) could provide the perfect solution as it would not only remove the need to relocate the conversation, but it would allow you to jump the 140 character limit and enrich the discussion through photos and video.
By implementing the full abilities of a Twitter application, FriendFeed would see a giant boost in user registration and visitor traffic. With the new users comes new feeds that deliver new content to FriendFeed. Using that incoming flood of information, FriendFeed can monitor live activity trends throughout Twitter and the rest of the Web. That, combined with a subsequently engendered real-time search ability, would make FriendFeed one heck of a social networking force to reckon with.
So why aren’t more people using FriendFeed? First, I’d say that the design is still way too cluttered. It needs to be cleaned up and simplified so visitors aren’t hit with so many comments/conversations at once. Engineers are addressing this thankfully with FriendFeed’s new beta design but I believe there’s a few more changes that are necessary. For instance, one of the biggest eye sores that remains in the new design is that comments are positioned directly underneath the primary content. This can be improved by only displaying the comment count with a link that redirects users that want to comment to a dedicated commenting page or hiding the comments by default. Visitors would therefore be presented a much cleaner look and it would help ensure that only users whom are genuinely interested in a given topic would engage in the conversation. Thus it would probably reduce the number of useless drive-by comments and help deliver more lively discussions. An added benefit for FriendFeed to employ this change in design would be an increase in pageviews. That is, if indeed they hosted the comments on a separate page. By making this simple change FriendFeed becomes the equivalent of Twitter 2.0 (i.e. inline image/video display, commenting, 140+ characters).
Another reason why FriendFeed is not hugely popular yet may be that most don’t see the possible benefits of using such a unique online social networking platform (content sharing, content aggregation, communication, reputation monitoring, business marketing, etc.). The same was true for Twitter at one time and now it’s one of the most talked about Web based services in the United States. The problem is that most people think of FriendFeed as just another social networking thingy that’s a complete waste of their time. In fact however, it can be just as useful as Twitter if you use it with real purpose in mind. Perhaps more importantly it consolidates several needed services into one place. That is, FriendFeed can act not only as a your online lifestream/content aggregator service but also your feed reader, chat client, and possible your Twitter client (if FriendFeed indeed implements full Twitter app capabilities).
It’s funny how the Web evolves but at the same time development repeats itself in some ways. Take online chat interfaces for instance; we started out with very plain text based IRC chat clients, eventually graduated to richer, more complicated versions like Yahoo! Messenger, and now we’ve returned to a simpler, cleaner text based chat-like client called Twitter. From the user’s perspective, temptation to add more functionality always beckons and soon there will be a need to meet the demand for 140+ characters. Twitter-only clients and related 3rd party applications won’t be able to address it since they too will be limited to only 140 characters. Given that one of the founders, Evan Williams, has expressed hesitation to extend the feature set at this time (i.e. image/video support – see video clip below @ 8:40) and the fact that Twitter is facing some really tough challenges (incredible traffic growth, spam, hacking, viruses) it’s very unlikely we’ll see any major changes at Twitter within the near future. Hence, this is a excellent timing for FriendFeed to amend its current version utilizing Twitter’s popularity as a springboard for capturing new users and crossing over into mainstream use.
If you’d like to know a little more about FriendFeed I strongly suggest you check out the 20 Things About FriendFeed video created by Robert Scoble (FriendFeed aficionado and blogger). In the video he explains key differences between Twitter and FriendFeed and how and why you should use FriendFeed. It’s a great source particularly for beginning FriendFeed users that don’t see the benefits of using such a service.
Instead of summarizing in a paragraph format, I thought it might be more helpful to simply list the main points addressed in the article. They should make sense if you’ve read the entire article.
Why FF Shouldn’t Display Comments Under Content
1. Reduces useless drive-by comments
2. Helps ensure good comments and lively discussions
3. Increases pageviews
4. Ameliorates cluttered view that overwhelms/discourages new users
Why FF Should Add Full Twitter App Capabilities
1. Attracts a huge number of new potential users
2. Adds new sources of incoming feeds of information
3. Improves ability to identify new trends on the Web
4. Provides opportunity to strengthen FF’s real-time display and search
5. Positions FF as perfect solution to Twitter’s 140 character limit
6. It compliments FF and showcases its benefits
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