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Why FriendFeed is Disruptive: There’s Only 24 Hours in a Day

Forget fractured conversations. How about fractured attention?

MG Siegler has a post up at ParisLemon titled FriendFeed Should Kill Those Who Accuse It of Murder. In the post, he writes that the current meme about FriendFeed killing Twitter and Google Reader is overblown and that all the services will exist in relative harmony for the foreseeable future.

To which I ask: did someone just extend the day to 25 hours?

Because there really is a zero sum game aspect to social media. We only have 24 hours in a day, and we have to decide where to spend those hours.

That daily time limit is what makes FriendFeed so disruptive.

Allocation of the 24 Hour Day

The chart below is a hypothetical day of a relatively advanced social media user (no laughs about Facebook please):

The chart shows our social media user at three different points. I’ve taken the liberty of assuming that certain core life stuff is maintained consistently: sleep, eat, work, family. All else is flex time.

So with the core life stuff constant at 19.5 hours, and more time spent on FriendFeed, something’s got to give? But what?

Not websites and blogs. In fact, their page views go up because of FriendFeed. Their content is the currency of FriendFeed conversations.

I think the two services that get hit the hardest as FriendFeed grows will be:

  • Twitter
  • Crowdsourced aggregators: Digg, Stumbleupon, LinkRiver, Reddit

Twitter

I left this comment on Corvida’s post The #1 Reason FriendFeed Will Not “Dethrone” Twitter at SheGeeks.net:

My two cents. FriendFeed direct posts feel like Twitters, only you can see the whole conversation, not just part of it. FriendFeed lacks the @reply and DM, so if those are important use cases, yeah it’s not replacing Twitter. But for putting something out there and having your subscribers weigh in…well, it feels like Twitter.

I’m not the only one. Two heavyweights in the blogging world have expressed their feelings about using FriendFeed in lieu of Twitter:

  • Steve Rubel :”Who’s spending less time on Twitter and more time here? I am.”
  • Duncan Riley: “@geechee_girl true, and if I can switch to FF with everyone on Twitter, I’d start considering swapping most if not all of the time”

The key to Twitter’s success is not it’s haiku format, it’s the community, as Duncan Riley mentions. Twitter is growing fantastically, as more people adopt it (and unfortunately stress its current platform). That community is what makes it vibrant special. FriendFeed appears to be rapidly growing its own community. I’ll be curious what the Compete.com May numbers look like for FriendFeed.

Note in the allocation of the day, I don’t eliminate Twitter. People have built up their networks there, and tweeting has become a habit. Also, the @reply function is quite popular, as is the DM. One might ask if those functions aren’t essentially covered by instant messaging and email, but Twitter fans love ’em.

But I see the direct post + comments as taking interaction away from Twitter.

Crowdsourced Aggregators

The basic function of these applications is to surface the content receiving the most votes. Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and LinkRiver are great for discovering content that others have found valuable. Digg includes robust, active commenting.

Well, doesn’t that sound like FriendFeed? The system of ‘Likes’ and comments ensures that community-ranked content appears at the top of your FriendFeed page.

Again, FriendFeed doesn’t kill these services. StumbleUpon, for example, has a persistence to it that FriendFeed lacks. Content gets its moment in the sun on FriendFeed, then gets buried in pages further back. I’ve noticed the StumbleUpon activity around content can last for days, weeks.

But over time, as users discover ranked content on FriendFeed, I’d expect them to cut back their time on the other crowdsourced aggregators. Not stop using these other services, but check in on them less frequently.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps as MG Siegler said, there really is room for all of these social media apps. Folks will just expand the amount of time they devote to them. But I question that assumption. Your employer still pays you for your hours. Your kids still want your time. The human body needs its sleep. And you still need to eat.

FriendFeed is disruptive because it challenges a number of other applications. If you find something that offers an outstanding experience and provides a good percentage of what you like in other social media apps, wouldn’t you spend more time there?

I mean, there’s only but so many hours in a day.

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=who%3Aeveryone++%22Why+FriendFeed+is+Disruptive%3A+There%E2%80%99s+Only+24+Hours+in+a+Day%22

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