October 30, 2008

FriendFeed Offers Twitter A Chance to Play Lifestream

When FriendFeed first gained significant traction early this spring, coming at the same time as Twitter was struggling with uptime issues and a reduced feature set, bloggers were abuzz with the idea that FriendFeed could replace Twitter outright. The excitement around the social aggregation site at times was so white hot, it was thought the team would soon render popular tools like Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader unnecessary. Rather than eliminate other services in the ecosystem, FriendFeed has instead, over the last several months, added support for many more services, and introduced upgrades that have made it even further integrated with those same sites, Facebook and Twitter.

Today, FriendFeed introduced a set of features that lets users update Twitter with all their FriendFeed activity, based on their own preferences - be it with native FriendFeed entries, or shares from popular sites, be they Disqus, Last.fm, YouTube, Flickr and many more.

The result essentially turns the lifestreaming functionality on its head. Rather than just have Twitter play a major role in inputting entries in user's feeds, FriendFeed now gives Twitter the chance to do more than operate as a microblogging tool, taking your personal FriendFeed, and mirroring it back Twitter's direction.

I've set up a number of services on FriendFeed to reflect back to Twitter.

Despite having served as one of the more vocal proponents of FriendFeed, I don't see that everything I do on the site needs to fill my Twitter stream. I won't be adding my FriendFeed comments to Twitter, nor will I be adding the vast majority of my social activity around the Web, including Google Reader shares, Delicious bookmarks, or comments, be they on FriendFeed, Disqus or BackType. After a certain point, the ensuing waterfall of updates would be certain to leave my in box full of Qwitter notifications.

A native post I made to FriendFeed was bounced to Twitter as well.

What I will be doing is notifying Twitter on native FriendFeed shared items, including all the iPhone pictures I take of the twins and send in via e-mail, as well as new blog posts, SmugMug shares and YouTube postings. This will effectively eliminate my need to use TinyURL for new blog posts, and probably will erode my use of Posty, TweetDeck or other Twitter applications. But as the integration is with Twitter only, Identi.ca and other microblogging services don't get any of the love.

Will Twitter's new role as a mainstream erode FriendFeed's differentiation? I don't believe so. The site is still all about following friends' feeds, and not just aggregating your updates. It's also become a strong platform for discussion and engagement. As links back to FriendFeed begin to increasingly populate Twitter, it should drive even more traffic their way, as both services aid one another, padding their lead in their respective markets.