FriendFeed is a social discussion platform that lets users begin and participate in discussions on anything they find interesting or relevant. The user can post content or begin a discussion that is shared with their friends. Friends respond by commenting or sharing their thoughts. Each comment is posted in real time so each user sees the most recent additions as soon as they are posted. The user can read and share comments and content by email, mobile phone or social network. FriendFeed can also be published to the user’s blog or website as well as to other services, including Twitter. The application is intended to be used by anyone to share anything, such as discussions between friends and family or conversations among coworkers.
FriendFeed was founded by Bret Taylor, Jim Norris and Paul Buchheit. The application was intended to offer social network aggregating services to users. Facebook acquired FriendFeed in August of 2009 for $47.5 million in cash and stock. The application grew rapidly, reaching its one million visitor mark in 2009. TechCrunch labeled FriendFeed the “hot startup of the minute,” referring to it as this year’s Twitter in 2008. The site is currently used by many as a way of sparking conversations and sharing information and ideas.
The service offered by FriendFeed doesn’t seem terribly unique, especially compared to the many ways to have conversations on social networks. What makes the site appealing is the way it focuses on conversations rather than on people. Users can stay in touch with friends or professionals can establish working relationships by starting and joining conversations and sharing content that others find interesting or helpful. The site also lets users embed their feeds into websites and blogs, which can add another level of engagement for visitors.
FriendFeed combines a sleek light grey and blue color scheme with fun, rounded design elements to nurture an atmosphere that welcomes new users and conversations. The design is nice and clean and doesn’t assault the user with clutter like many other social networking style websites do. Anyone can easily navigate the interface and join conversations or start a new discussion on something they find important or interesting.
A new user can join the FriendFeed community by clicking the orange “Join FriendFeed” button found along the lower, left hand side of the homepage. The user can sign in with a Facebook or Twitter account using the buttons at the top of the following page or continue below to fill out the registration form. The form asks for a name, email address and password. The user is automatically logged in and can begin importing contacts from Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail.
Anyone can join FriendFeed for free. There are no subscription fees and the user never has to make any purchases to maintain account access. This works well for most general social networks, and FriendFeed is no different. Users are enticed to create a profile because they can access it for free. Not to mention, additional features would need to be added to justify the introduction of a subscription service or al la carte purchases.
FriendFeed is an interesting application for anyone who enjoys participating in online discussions. Fans of social networking can really appreciate the features included. Those who already have established contact lists on social networking websites will get the most benefit from using FriendFeed. The application is easy to understand and helps users participate in and strike up interesting conversations while sharing content they find on the web. Bloggers and website owners can also enhance their site offerings by embedding conversations from FriendFeed.