As FriendFeed continues to grow in popularity, the noise on the service grows. Even in the space of a few weeks, the ability to easily filter information has become more difficult. As of the moment I write this post, I’m following 1090 people, and just over 1000 people are following me. Some argue that following more than a couple of hundred people is impossible, but I’ve found that with some discipline it can be well managed. Here’s some tips I use to handle the volume that can be applied when you first sign up to FriendFeed, or even for long term users. Also included is some general advice for getting the most out of FriendFeed.
Unsubscribe without a return follow
When I first signed up to FriendFeed, I initially followed several hundred people. Tools like Gmail contact import and Twitter2FriendFeed makes this easy. There were naturally people I wanted to follow (particularly among my Twitter contacts) but as time passed I asked myself whether following a celebrity blogger or startup owner was really worthwhile when they weren’t interested in following me in return. I now generally unsubscribe from people who don’t follow me after some time. This isn’t immediately and you have to give people some time (I usually update my follows 2-3 times a week, so I might not reciprocate for 3-4 days) but FriendFeed is ultimately a place for “Friends.” People aren’t your friends if they are not interested in following you. Of course, I still add interesting people who pop up from time to time, but after a couple of weeks if I notice they’re not interested in me, I unsubscribe again.
Remember also, that if it’s interesting enough, it will hit your stream anyway through friends liking it. I’ve found with following 1000 people that ultimately I don’t miss out on the important stuff.
This might be strange, but if someone has taken the time to subscribe to me and follow what I have to say, I feel that it is only fair and equitable that I at least make some effort to listen to what they are saying in return.
Learn to love the hide feature
Because you follow everyone in return doesn’t mean you have to necessarily always read everything they have to say. There is nothing more annoying on FriendFeed then following someone using Ping.fm or a similar service that duplicates the same content over multiple streams.
I have Twitter off on FriendFeed unless the tweet is liked or commented on by someone else. According to FF, Twitter makes up only 25% of what I read now on FriendFeed. But it’s not only Twitter, if I regularly see content I’m not interested in from the one person, I’ll hide that stream with the same criteria. This way I don’t miss out if it is interesting, but likewise my stream isn’t full of rubbish ( it’s usually microblogging streams that get this treatment). I don’t find myself blocking blog posts that often. I don’t have thousands of filters in place, but I do regularly add hide filters. Each person will have different likes/ interests, so you can pick and choose as well. The only time I’ve completely hidden content so far under any circumstances is when it hasn’t been in English.
Do unto others
As mentioned above, services such as Ping.fm have made posting content to multiple platforms easy, but when you’re importing all that content into FriendFeed, it turns people off. I’ve started unsubscribing services from my stream to avoid duplication or where I believe that the content added to FriendFeed adds little value. A little common sense and leading by example will help the overall FriendFeed experience for everyone.
Get Greasemonkey scripts
Only for Firefox or Flock users, FriendFeed Greasemonkey scripts add to your experience. There’s a ton on userscripts here, including a range of content tabs I’ve written as well. The one I’m finding very handy is the show 100 script, that delivers 100 entries on a page. It means I can scroll down and read a lot more with less duplication in my stream (with 1000 ppl entering info, paging in FriendFeed is nearly an exercise in futility).
FriendFeed is only as good as the amount you use it. Without participation (commenting and likes) it’s nothing more than a static life stream. Jump in, comment, but one warning: be nice about it. Unlike Twitter and some other platforms, FriendFeed has a low tolerance for trolling, and many people will block you if you troll, including being nasty or offensive. This is a space for constructive, interesting conversations, and I know personally I’ve got a lot out of it.
Take FriendFeed seriously
After I was persuaded by Louis Gray to give FriendFeed another shot, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My earlier concern about the service was that it was more noise at a time I needed less noise, but I approached it the wrong way. FriendFeed is a discovery tool with communication that can easily be justified as a serious part of your online mix, presuming you’re involved in online communication in some way, be that as a part or full time blogger, in PR, social media in another form, or even involved in a startup. I didn’t start using FriendFeed with this in mind, but today FriendFeed is regularly a top five referral site for The Inquisitr. Not the biggest source, but if you’re a blogger, all sources of traffic are usually good ones. I also find as a blogger I regularly source news and/ or story ideas from FriendFeed. Better still, with a WP plugin, the conversations on FriendFeed also add to the mix on this site as well. FriendFeed is fun, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it is just a lark when it can be an important tool in your working mix.
On that note (and tied back into participation), I shake my head when I read some users have 15,000 followers yet have only contributed single figures in likes and commenting. It would be nice, wouldn’t it…but the rest of us don’t get that privilege. Participation means more people will follow you (of course, don’t forget to follow back), and the more people who follow you, the better FriendFeed is as a presence platform. That might mean traffic back to your site, or simply to be known as someone with something interesting to say. I know that I keep adding new blogs to Google Reader based on people I’ve discovered on FriendFeed, and that I’m richer personally for having found many of them. Sure, there is still a bias in FriendFeed towards the elite, but it’s a much better leveler than any other service I’ve used, and that includes Twitter. FriendFeed can be your chance to shine and be discovered; participate, contribute, follow and be followed.
If you’d like to follow me on FriendFeed, click here and hit follow. I’ll return the follow within a couple of days max.