Jeremiah Owyang VS Forrester Research or the reality of digital footprint divorces

21 08 2009

Jeremiah Owyang

Yesterday’s news about Jeremia Owyang leaving Forrester research is a very important day for social media and its use by businesses. I’ve been a fan of Jeremiah’s work for a long time now. He was best described as an “idea factory” by his boss and I totally agree with this. He’s made (and will continue) to make a huge impact on social technology adoption and best practice “crystallization”.

Now, what were they thinking at Forrester? I am fascinated by the unplanned and de facto mash-up that is occurring between personal and corporation / brand digital footprints, especially since social networks have exploded.

Here are some stats to explain what I am referring to:

Forrester Jeremiah Owyang
Joined Twitter 2007-07-25 2006-12-19
Number of Followers (as of today) 24,000 51,000
Joined Forrester N/A October 2007
Number of tweets (as of today) 877 16,500

Obviously, Jeremiah has blown away Forrester in terms of followers but also in mastering the different social media tools. It was one of his best career moves as he wrote yesterday. Yes, it was his job to master those tools, but obviously his digital footprint and influence is bigger than Forrester’s in some ways. Onto another data point, web-traffic: Jeremiah’s blog is pretty much on a par with Forrester.com as you can see on the Compete graph…
Bottom Line –Jeremiah leaving Forrester is a huge loss for Forrester and probably even bigger loss compared with a similar departure 3-4 years ago before the social media boom.

I think it’s also a great example on how companies should think about leveraging the personal digital footprints of their employees, while making sure that the brand’s digital footprint grows proportionally to the employees they empower. Related questions include…

– Should Jeremiah have actually been using Forrester’s twitter account or blog more?
– Would Jeremiah have been as successful if he hadn’t used his personal accounts for work? I also prefer talking to people than brands directly… there’s a human side that is inherent to our gregarious nature.
– Should Forrester have asked him to tweet a little bit more on @forrester ? (877 tweets for @forrester vs 16,500 for @jowyang)?
– Will the person they hire after Jeremiah be required to…?
– Will employees be able to negotiate the use of their personal digital footprint when joining a company?
– Will employers require a minimum digital footprint from their employees?

My point is that Jeremiah’s digital footprint is leaving with him when he leaves Forrester. The long tail effect of his personal blog will be massive as he has worked as a very thorough and systematic aggregator, and like when Robert Scoble left Seagate to go to Rackspace, there will be a serious impact that no company has measured before.

To me, it’s a wake up call for companies using or considering social media. The pioneers you empower to guide your company through those green fields will become very powerful. This is good for you but needs to be considered. The David & Goliath story we’ve seen with the Kutcher vs CNN challenge to pass 1,000,000 followers is another classic example of what’s possible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you’ve considered this as part of your social media strategy.

Wishing good luck to Jeremiah’s new green fields,

@YannR

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Will you just keep funding the marketing bridge to no-where?

28 07 2009
Will you just keep funding the marketing bridge to no-where? (reviewed kb)
A common objection that arises in dealing with marketing executives is the ‘social media’ budget allocation. Social Media is still in the ‘mis-understood zone’ even though we’re making progress at light speed (thank you and not so thank you twitter). Euh, what? “we’re going to spend 20-30% of our marketing budget for social media, are you kidding?”. Obviously, they think it’s too much, they can’t see the value or they decide to throw a youngster at it…hmm. Let’s also remember that it costs at least 5x as much time to find a new customer than nurturing current ones (according to the American Marketing Assoc.). What part of the picture are they missing here? Let’s try to break it down:
Reduce waste, try the long tail: If you invest $200,000 in marketing or 10x this, proportions given to marketing activities will usually stay pretty much the same. A good 50-60% will be allocated to create stuff that won’t last. The impact of traditional marketing has a short life cycle. Worse, people aren’t fools; “infomercial” type articles just reduce their trust. Unless you are in the instant gratification purchasing cycle, relationships matter. There is now a direct bridge to your customers called social media which is relevant in both B2B or B2C environments. Use it. We know that referrals from a friend or someone in your circle of influence (professional or personal) has a stronger influence on consumer choice. It’s important to realize that any work in social media brings double benefits: First, content coming from an organization or person can be shared limitlessly (e.g. youtube video); once it sits there, it will not go away. The Internet has a bridge to the garbage, you can’t delete it anymore. More importantly, someone, somewhere, is crawling the internet to find content related to your industry (like this blog for instance) so be sure that this continue. It’s called the “long tail”. Someone will find it in 10 years. Time is an important factor in calculating a marketing ROI.
Invest in your customers:
Zappos was just sold to Amazon.com for doing just that: Personalization and customer service have been rooted within the company since 1999, no wonder why they are an acclaimed social media power house. It fits them like a glove. Your customers are still your biggest asset. I know you’ve closed them already but they have way more value than they used to have. Your customers are certainly the strongest link of your long-tail strategy. I feel it should part of any social media plan to find engaged customers and work with them. Word-Of-Mouth has finally been given adequate tools and this works both ways 🙂 Positive Mentions: good for you, find your brand ambassadors, generate more buzz about it. Negative Mentions: Learn from it, engage with them, turn it to your advantage. No mention on social networks: Your biggest nightmare, you’re fading away.
Relevancy VS Propaganda:
As a consumer or a business customer, we accept to be marketed when the time is right. Agreed? Let’s face it. How much of an average marketing budget is spent creating lead-generation ‘floods’ with lots of propaganda in it e.g static websites? As Jeremiah Owyang puts it: “The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet” ? Most traditional marketing is usually ineffective after it’s been used or because it missed its target. A brand should be relevant to the more-of-the-same customers, THINK COMMUNITY. The long tail strategy relies on the 80/20 rule, 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue. Focusing on being relevant to those 20% will gain you more of the clients you need.
Build relationships: I found this analysis interesting this week as it mentioned that “60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” (search here mean Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization. Yes, if you apply old thinking to a new problem, it won’t get any better. Why would someone refer your business if they feel you’re short term driven? People will refer you if you treat them like human beings throughout the total experience: before, during and after sales, keep empowering your users.
Marketers prefer black magic.
If they can claim high traffic or lead generation, they won’t get fired. Conversion to customers is someone else’s problem: “We’ve brought you the customers to the door step, why can’t you close?” Same goes for SEM (“60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007177#)
Now, does spending 20-30% of your marketing budget on Social Media & Community Building look like a lot? Let’s do this 🙂

A common objection that arises in dealing with marketing executives is the ‘social media’ budget allocation. Social Media is still in the ‘mis-understood zone’ even though we’re making progress at light speed (thank you and not so thank you twitter). Euh, what? “we’re going to spend 20-30% of our marketing budget for social media, are you kidding?”. Obviously, they think it’s too much, they can’t see the value or they decide to throw a youngster at it…hmm. Let’s also remember that it costs at least 5x as much time to find a new customer than nurturing current ones (according to the American Marketing Assoc.). What part of the picture are they missing here? Let’s try to break it down:

Reduce waste, try the long tail: If you invest $200,000 in marketing or 10x this, proportions given to marketing activities will usually stay pretty much the same. A good 50-60% will be allocated to create stuff that won’t last. The impact of traditional marketing has a short life cycle. Worse, people aren’t fools; “infomercial” type articles just reduce their trust. Unless you are in the instant gratification purchasing cycle, relationships matter. There is now a direct bridge to your customers called social media which is relevant in both B2B or B2C environments. Use it. We know that referrals from a friend or someone in your circle of influence (professional or personal) has a stronger influence on consumer choice. It’s important to realize that any work in social media brings double benefits: First, content coming from an organization or person can be shared limitlessly (e.g. youtube video); once it sits there, it will not go away. The Internet has a bridge to the garbage, you can’t delete it anymore. More importantly, someone, somewhere, is crawling the internet to find content related to your industry (like this blog for instance) so be sure that this continue. It’s called the “long tail”. Someone will find it in 10 years. Time is an important factor in calculating a marketing ROI.

Invest in your customers: Zappos was just sold to Amazon.com for doing just that: Personalization and customer service have been rooted within the company since 1999, no wonder why they are an acclaimed social media power house. It fits them like a glove. Your customers are still your biggest asset. I know you’ve closed them already but they have way more value than they used to have. Your customers are certainly the strongest link of your long-tail strategy. I feel it should part of any social media plan to find engaged customers and work with them. Word-Of-Mouth has finally been given adequate tools and this works both ways 🙂 Positive Mentions: good for you, find your brand ambassadors, generate more buzz about it. Negative Mentions: Learn from it, engage with them, turn it to your advantage. No mention on social networks: Your biggest nightmare, you’re fading away.

Relevancy VS Propaganda: As a consumer or a business customer, we accept to be marketed when the time is right. Agreed? Let’s face it. How much of an average marketing budget is spent creating lead-generation ‘floods’ with lots of propaganda in it e.g static websites? As Jeremiah Owyang puts it: “The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet” ? Most traditional marketing is usually ineffective after it’s been used or because it missed its target. A brand should be relevant to the more-of-the-same customers, THINK COMMUNITY. The long tail strategy relies on the 80/20 rule, 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue. Focusing on being relevant to those 20% will gain you more of the clients you need.

Build relationships: I found this analysis interesting this week as it mentioned that “60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” (search here mean Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization). Yes, if you apply old thinking to a new problem, it won’t get any better. Marketers prefer black magic.Why would someone refer your business if they feel you’re short term driven? People will refer you if you treat them like human beings throughout the total experience: before, during and after sales, keep empowering your users.

Like in the Matrix movie, “there is no bridge” but the interconnectedness of your community and customers. Now, does spending 20-30% of your marketing budget on Social Media & Community Building look like a lot? Let’s do this 🙂

Off you go,

@YannR





Social Media Neophytes and Great Hopes

16 07 2009

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel organized by the local Entrepreneurs network about social media. The audience was clearly a majority of neophytes from local businesses, agencies and even government. I think it was an eye opener for me as to what people have on their mind. For them, the 6 panelists certainly gave them tons of useful information. It was participant driven which was a great experience. My natural tendency is to discuss on this blog larger phenomena occurring in the social media world.  I’ll therefore try to address those same questions a bit more regularly on the Extanz blog. For now, I want to focus on some of the points raised at the event….

Time devoted-to make effective? What to listen? How to listen?

I think entrepreneurs are even more wary about the time sucker that social media can be. Let’s just consider Twitter to start with as it’s probably the most straight forward one. If you’re lucky, and you have more than one

computer screen, I would pull up applications like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or PeopleBrowsr and start setting up searches, creating groups by interest. Scout for topics that your company is involved with, see what results come up. Tools like Twitter or Friendfeed are the most valuable when listening or monitoring that action. You or your company’s ‘social’ networks act as a knowledge guardian, you’ll be able to stay on top of what’s of interest to you (being the Tour de France or what are your competitors are up to, what customers/consumers are saying, etc). Most of these applications will allow you to create ‘columns’ or ‘groups’ that filter by keyword. Scroll through it, see what is being said and reply / participate if it’s worth your time. You can also share links or articles you find valuable or simply RT (re-tweet) with your comments. I would also advise using these tools in conjunction with Google Alert, Filtrbox, OneRiot and other similar tools which are much more efficient search tools than staring at Twitter all day.

ROI 101: Return On Investment 101

Throw away any of the usual metrics you’ve learned. Building relationships for a person or a brand cannot be measured as a statistical number. You will still see more followers on Twitter, more fans on your facebook fan page. Ultimately, if you share valuable content and engage in conversations, you’ll have a clear sign that people like your content. This clearly has a more powerful impact for you or the brand you represent. Also, I hear too often that people don’t use Google Analytics yet on their… this is a must have. If you expect to show any sign that your time is spent appropriately, Google Analytics will be able to show you this progress.

What percentage of your marketing strategy should be devoted to social media?

That will depend on your audience. The more you deal with tech industries and the knowledge industry, the more important it’ll be for your company. For example, a company like Crocs (not so much knowledge industry based) has one full time dedicated employee for Social Media (George Smith Jr) out of 3-4k people worldwide. Make sure to think about every activity you carry as a company and how to leverage social media in relation to those activities. Social media is not a marketing play, it’s a relationship play. Relationships happen at every step of a company’s value chain. Social media can fit in those segments. See what happens. Draw conclusions. Be creative. Repeat.

Some simple steps to get started:

Level 1- Join groups related to your industry in Linkedin or Facebook, engage there. This might be enough as some of audience is already there.

Level 2- Join twitter, start following 50 people who you care about as a company, start listening, share interesting news in your industry or localized content, engage where you can.

Level 4- Create a facebook page and try to get your other marketing activities to promote that facebook page. Link your Twitter account to your facebook fan page.

Level 5- Start a blog… this is a difficult exercise and can be time consuming, but it is still what can carry your business voice the furtherest. Remember that if you blog, stay away from clogging, don’t use this as just another ad channel (#fail).

There are 100s of things you could do, but start there. Your company’s digital footprint will benefit and you may be able to spend 1-2 hours per week without losing your boss’ trust. Finally, it’s more complex than it seems. If you want to be effective at it, getting help is usually well worth it.

Off you go,

Thank you for you great pictures:  by quelquepartsurlaterre, ToniVCjohn.d.mcdonald

@YannR





What do Engagement and the Value Chain have in common?

12 06 2009

… they are both being rocked by 2.0 – You didn’t think that Web 2.0 and other social web toys were just for pushy marketers, or did you?

Starting with the old and maybe boring Michael Porter value chain allows me to set up a baseline for this piece.  Most of us may have been taught how organizations work. Yep, they add value, every segment of it does or it’s made redundant, especially these days 2.0. We were trained wrong however. There is a beginning and an end to your job, NOT. We’re more and more moving to a river of information in which employees, partners and customers participate.  Think about the news industry or soon to be former news industry. Tipping the journalist maybe the future because all us (we’re the media) are involved, we’re just re-netting the value chain here.  Quality will be rewarded, so why not?

Does the healthcare industry move in any other direction? I don’t think so. The patient and relationship centered care model is moving full speed ahead. The health value chain is a participatory one. Care should be a collective well synchronized effort, no one can claim total expertise and we are all tired of being overly monitored, tested, and analyzed for liability purposes.

Odell's-pollHere is another simple but true product development example (local to me).  Odell Brewery company in Colorado finally got on board with Twitter. They also had the idea to engage their constituents which is probably the most difficult thing to do in social media. Let’s do a TwitterBrew (#odelltwitbrew), they said and then polled their Twitter followers about a new beer and its taste features. They then asked for a new name (TwitterBrew wasn’t as cool as “Blackbird”) and even asked for a new design, getting people again to vote on the design +1,500 voted … Geez ,that was easy and all involving people around them! Ok, if you develop a new Intel chip, it may be a little trickier…. or not, and this is my point. The collective did it and their work is more accurate than anything Odell could have dreamed of.

There is a massive opportunity for everyone across the organization from HR to product design to sales to change the way we work. Here are another couple of examples. CRM (Customer Relationships Management) systems are huge complex systems to empower sales forces. CoTweet (Twitter CRM) is in beta but @Wholefoods and other big names are already using it. Comcast was an early adopter of Twitter as one of their service managers (Frank Eliason) decided to answer customer questions via this system (not a corporate decision). 10 other customer service people later and Frank, they have 20,000 + followers on twitter and are delivering real value.

How to make it work? Check out SocialCast.com They integrate automation and people interaction messaging for corporations. Machines can tweet, hey why not? 🙂

Engagement is certainly the most empowering behavior that an organization can expect from their constituents. ‘They’ being ‘people’. Being inside the value chain or outside, engagement allows us to deliver and consume value. It’s time to rethink the value chain 2.0 style.

2.0 is awesome.

@YannR





Ideas for managing personal VS corporate brands online

29 05 2009

Does seeing a picture of your boss at a party on Facebook weird you out? Is your son or daughter not accepting to friend you on their social networks? We’ve definitely moved to a world where the lines are blurry. Online identities have definitely moved from anonymous to the “real me”.  Interconnectedness makes identities (personal or  corporate) and digital footprints have to live up to their actions.  I barely delete anything these days because my fears of big brother are a thing of the past.  But how best to manage the future? Be it your employees, friends, customers, brand afficionados or detractors… they participate in the “real you” too.

A bigger phenomenon though has to be taken into account by businesses when considering social media:  Individuals are building their digital footprints larger and faster than companies. What to do?

  1. Inside: Creating a guide book for your employees would be a good start. Nothing fancy… just get it right. Everyone is an ambassador whether you want it or not. It’s your employee’s choice to join LinkedIn or add their professional credentials on other networks like Facebook or Twitter. Just coach them with the basics. Suggestions could include:
    1. Optimize their profile on different networks.
    2. Simplify your employees’ research and teach them where to be active if they wish to be so.
    3. Organize an internal Tweetup — that could be a great idea… see what, who is active, leverage their existing activity.  Remember the groundswell technographics. Not everyone will want to play.
    4. [ah yeah, keep them focused on their job].
  2. Outside:  The real ambassadors are the people. You are a public being whether you want it or not.  “Here come everybody” from Clay Shirky is certainly right — “reading customers are among us”. They are creating a wealth of information out there which you should take advantage of. You may not have the ability to identify and energize the best of your customer base and brand aficionados.
  3. Listen and learn: Measure and monitor conversations about your brand and competitors’ brands – Use Google Alerts, FiltrBox, OneRiot, Topsy, Radian6, CollectiveIntellect and the other millions of search tools inside each network… You’ll learn to intercept conversations and participate (the new ‘respond’) more efficiently.
  4. Engaging: Social media is not (yet) for everyone but Gen Y is making it pervasive. You’ve probably been in a meeting or with friends where someone pulled the buzz joke: “are you tweeting this?” …then every body laughs. It has the same feel as when people started to have cell phones and answer in public places. Everyone got weirded out but this is long gone and new methods of communication are coming fast e.g. Google Wave – Here I suggest that you test the waters as long as you’re are open and clear with your intents and the community. Follow the passion trail to build creative social media programs. It’s clear that old methods won’t work and may even step outside the law: Trying to get an influential blogger promote your brand is rightfully getting looked at by the FTC.

Here is everybody. You (brand) are not alone. Your constituents are your best assets.

How do you deal with those identities? What does make sense for you and your business?

We’re all connected now.


@yannr FFyannr





Gluecon tries to solve the Cambrian Explosion

15 05 2009

Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked in several birthing and evolving tech industries. I was born in the storage industry which had no standards and moved quickly to storage virtualization and storage area networks; then I moved on to database applications which were a lot harder to integrate and ERP systems forced integration. At the base of all these experiences are consumers and customers needs, cost reductions for enterprises, and just plain efficiency. When innovation becomes unbearable for users, the next phase is consolidation. We’re getting there and very fast. RSS 2.0 standards were agreed upon back 2005 and we’ve seen a wild ride since then. Web 2.0 has mushroomed. I can pretty much sign up to 5-10 new web services every day if I wanted to.

This journey brings me to the Glue Conference which just finished yesterday in Denver, CO.  We’re there again. Mitch Kapor actually used the analogy of the “Cambrian Explosion” while talking about Social Media / Web 2.0. Like during the Cambrian, we’re at a stage where products and ideas are developed at a greater speed than before because it has become so cheap to develop web and social applications. It has gone wild, the big players are trying to control it (e.g. Facebook Connect…), while the savants are wrapping their heads around Open standards and data portability (e.g. OpenID and Information Cards)

So here is a quick synopsis of my take aways from the conference. I am no technical person but I love technology, so forgive me if you were there and see that much stuff has flown over my head.  I am a shrink not a geek.

1. The Consumer first: The biggest headache the web services industry is putting on the consumer is “signing in”. How many IDs and passwords can one self have and need to get around? If you keep them somewhere it can be unsafe. If you use the same password everywhere… it can be unsafe. If you rely on a third party, to manage your identity… you know what I am going to say. We’re slowly getting there. e.g. Facebook Connect and other services like this… Safe? Maybe, but it’s becoming like Credit Score ratings… I am not sure I like it and my identity becomes the property of a corporation, so to speak.

2. Glue the networks? I tend to use most networks in conjunction with each other. I also like the synchronization that FriendFeed offers me. I also think that most  people are using networks separately. Being friends with your boss on Facebook or your mother is still contentious. All of us have multiple identities due to our life styles and not all identities fit across networks. Should we use networks like islands or enhance them so that noise is reduced? My preference goes to the latter. Networks and web UI and websites need more standardized metadata features e.g. I want to be able to share a mountain biking article with everyone who cares about mountain biking across my networks… Don’t ask me to choose the networks, but the identities… and it should be automatic. I don’t want to spam my foodie friends for example.

3. ID and Identification: Much debate was happening around these two, and I think the consensus was around the freedom to have different IDs but the necessity for proper identification.  It was observed that individuals have different behaviors depending on networks and if identities become unique everywhere, it limits freedom. Someone should not be banned from all networks because his/her ID was banned from one network.

4. Trust VS Reputation: It always starts with identification (who’s logging in). We can then build the trust of individuals or entities across the social web. Once that layer is achieved, we get to reputation.  Reputation could be based on character (e.g. participation) or knowledge (social media, internet or mountain biking… you’re pretty safe with me). Above all, ‘reputation’ depends on ‘Context’. Applications and social web platforms need to move to a more ‘context’ based information sharing model. Context gives meaning to words and information. The semantic web will be contextual.

5. Moving into the cloud: Pretty much everything is moving to the cloud. Applications are increasingly moving to data centers outside of companies as it’s rarely a core competency of businesses. It was clear that the cloud is something that will be totally transparent to the consumer. No one cares if your emails are sitting in Denver or San Francisco.

6. The online social graph is pretty much based on 3 worlds of social graphs:

  1. The first graph is based on email / IM (instant messaging). Everyone really knows each other but it’s a closed environment.
  2. The second graph is based on eCommerce platforms. As a shopper, you’re influenced by other shoppers and more and more networks via those platforms.
  3. Finally the social networks graph, which is probably the most open of all. You may or may not directly know someone who is connected with you. Depending on your purpose, you’ll use them with people you know or at the other extreme, be an ‘open networker’ and accept every invite.

Glue-on then. It is clear that the suggestive web or web 3.0 will require clear identification of individuals and groups. We need to move to a place where platforms and systems bring you better information based on the graph. People’s identities and conversations create enough data to give context and meaning to conversations. We’re still in a communicative world. The sender and the receiver of information still need ‘coding’ to understand each other.  Given that social media is producing an explosive growth of information, better information will be subject to context.

All in all, it’s all about context. I know it’s thick but bringing the right information to the right people was not good enough in the media world, new media has multiplied that information quantity. Now is the time to bring quality to new media.

Cheers

Yann





Conversation Drawers VS Sink Hole, FriendFeed kicks ass

5 05 2009

I have found lately that my amount of conversation on Twitter has decreased. I wasn’t quite sure but maybe the hype is just becoming too much or maybe it’s just because every clone can now have a social media megaphone. And then along came an old acquaintance….

I originally used FriendFeed as my ‘pipe management’ system. 12 months ago back in 2008, social networks were harder to sink and FriendFeed was just an obvious method to sink my rich media activities. But I was also being told by many, to try again, try again… so I did and it failed again. But how many screens do you need? The real success of Twitter has been to let everyone else do the work via the API and let people build all kinds of cool apps for Twitter. The best of all these apps being TweetDeck. I could finally cut the noise, do my job, be in the know and feed my appetite for new stuff. But here comes a Keyword: Noise. Cutting noise. The new FriendFeed came out in March 2009. This time, I have been really giving it a try diligently since last week. Here are some key points that are jumping at me after using it as my primary social application for 7 days:

– Pipes management: More than ever I can manage my rich media and social media activity from a single console. From Flickr, Youtube, social bookmarks, Disqus, Twitter…. or any web 2.0 tools you’re using out there, they can all be plugged into FriendFeed to share your activities. Of course you can feed (send your activity stream) to other places like Twitter.

Bookmarklet (found here): This feature is what a mouse is to a computer. (Do you remember when computers didn’t have mouse? I don’t). The gist of it: I can literally grab any webpage, with any pictures or videos in it and share all that in rich media. Exempli gratia: sharing a page and photo from BBC below.

-Share your “Likes” with Twitter, FB… If you use Twitter: RT, or ReTweet is like a rating system. Someone may like your stuff and basically push one button in TweetDeck or place RT in front of your message and pass it on. When many people do it then it becomes overwhelming. FollowFriday was born of a great similar concept but then every Friday it’s like constant noise going through Twitter. It’s ok but the overall stream of information out there is cluttered. Noise kills information. It especially kills conversation! With friendfeed, the rating system is embedded, with the likes, so you can be aware of it or not (through your lists) or look at the “Best of the day”.

– Conversation drawers: When at a good party, you might be better to track the good groups and conversations.  I remember when at The Enthusiast Group (outdoors vertical social networks), Steve and Neal had to basically stay glued to the amount of info coming in and take the best stuff to put it on the front page. Anyone who would come to the home page would see the latest good stuff. We were marrying Social Networks and Editorial power. It was the only way to keep the good stuff above. Here, and again in comparison to Twitter, each time you participate (Comment, Like, Share or simply Post) FriendFeed keeps this in your “My Discussions” tab, it’s easy to come back and you can even set alerts via emails, IM… to keep abreast of the discussions. Here on the left, the thread and discussion between everyone is right below the original post.

Lists: aka the noise cutter. I’ve heard some say “I’m lazy, I don’t want to build those lists”. At the time I kind of agreed. But then I am the first one to admit that I wouldn’t have stuck to Twitter if TweetDeck hadn’t made it easy to create groups. I am also limited by the number of groups I can create in TweetDeck. In FriendFeed, I can very easily create Lists by topics or rank of importance.

Auto-refreshing: Every other network (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin….) needs you to refresh the page if you want to get what’s new or updates on conversations. Here FriendFeed refreshes for you ‘live’ and superfast. I actually run Tweetdeck and Friendfeed simultaneously to compare both. FriendFeed is plainly ‘LIVE’.  Conversations happen and you can track them overtime. In comparison, Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook, are sink holes. It’s just hard to track things and they disappear if you’re not in front of your computer.

Any drawbacks? hmm… Oprah is not on there yet 🙂 Ok, you won’t find as many people but I find that quality is well managed here. I’ll certainly hang here for a while.

Now, where to start? Sign up here. Once you’re signed up, I would import your pipes:

Step 1:  Go to Services

Step 2: Then find your friends: import friends from Facebook, Twitter….

Step 3: Participate.  You can find me there: http://friendfeed.com/yannr



Cheers

Yann