J. Phil is a guest author who maintains the blog scribkin – where code and culture converge.
I’ve been reading a lot about FriendFeed recently.
Personally, I am still digesting the opinions and thoughts that are out there. What I’d like to touch on today isn’t on FriendFeed’s utility, but to focus on an aspect of networking that FriendFeed has a lot of potential for everyone, even if you don’t realize it yet.
Personal Brand is a marketing concept that, in general, says that you market yourself, all the time. You are the brand manager of the brand called you. Your choices, your career, the connections you make — these all build your personal brand.
I’m not a marketer. Between you and me, not only am I new to the social media scene, I am new to the blogging scene. I’m new to the networking scene. Last year, if you would have asked me if I’d have a life beyond IT and reading Fark I would have looked at your quizzically.
But, as things go a lot of us is new to the scene and we are all learning and absorbing things at an impressive rate. Sure, there are some big fish that have been in this pond (or one very similar) for years, and they know what works. For the rest of us, though, it’s a bright new world and we are learning how best to grow, interconnect, and find things of real substance and sustenance.
Ok, let me put aside the metaphors and digressions. To me, a personal brand is how people see me and my works in this world. I can choose many directions to take this brand — I can promote my brand on my own blog, here, and other places. I can spend time marketing my brand by choosing to do deliberately high-profile things, like writing a book or interviewing someone more famous. I can refine my branding by producing quality content and discussions. I can even trash my brand by acting irrationally or just not caring about it.
Tell Me More About FriendFeed.
FriendFeed has several facets, which touch on different aspects your personal brand:
Also known as a social network aggregator, FriendFeed is built around collecting the content and actions that its users give it access to track. There are other services that do this, such as MyBlogLog, Plaxo, and Profilactic. They all have subtly different goals, however. The interesting thing here is that FriendFeed isn’t all about building your personal brand.
FriendFeed allows anyone who has a login to comment or like (flag as enjoyable) any update, post, bookmark, or other action that is tracked by anyone else. The comments stay within FriendFeed and are tagged with your name. Currently, these comments live within FriendFeed but, with the availability of an API, tools are being developed to bring more exposure to these comments. One of these handy utilities is the FriendFeed Comments WordPress Plugin.
Most people would not think of FriendFeed as a filter. Follow more than 20 people on the service and you will see.. you will see more updates than you can keep up with. Initially, your mind will rebel — how is it possible to see what’s important with this constant firehose of information blasting at you? Eventually, you will realize two things:
- You don’t have to do the filtering yourself. What I mean by this is that FriendFeed has a very powerful filtering system built right in. In fact, with a bit of work, you can (to quote Ron Popeil) make it slice, dice and make julienne fries! If you don’t like Amazon Wish List items, hide them. Don’t worry about losing them forever, you can easily un-hide them later.
- Good content will make itself known. Most people new to FriendFeed are thrown off by this initially. When one of the people you follow has a logged action that receives a like or comment, that action jumps to the top of the river of news. The more comments and attention, the more these articles float around near the top of your news stream. So don’t worry if you don’t see every Gmail away message that someone logs, the good stuff will be noticed, and get more eyes on it.
How Does Personal Brand And FriendFeed Interact?
The concept is actually fairly simple. Keep in mind what I said before about personal brand — your brand is the cumulative result of your actions and content produced in a medium. In a different medium, say television or movies, you would probably want to become a big name. The more people know your name the more recognizable you are. I’ll call this concept name share.
Now, there are a lot of ways in the social media space to build your name share. Build a network of 1,000 friends on Facebook. Start a blog. Take fantastic pictures and put them on Flickr. Follow as many people as possible on Twitter. Draw a popular social media webcomic.
Earlier I mentioned that FriendFeed isn’t geared toward building your personal brand as some other similar applications out there. But, in a way, this makes FriendFeed a more fertile ground for developing your name share!
Bring It Home For Me.
Let me explain. Let’s look at Plaxo, which by all rights should be all about promoting your personal brand. It has it all, right? Support for lifestreaming, comments, separate business, friend and family networks, even calendaring and integration with business tools like Outlook and Act! Yet, it seems to put up boundaries when you try to grow your network. It seems too much like a walled garden in some respects.
In comparison, FriendFeed is open. It pulls in from almost everywhere, you can follow anyone you want, comment where you want. And when you comment, the entry you commented on becomes more valuable to others. Your followers will see your action. Your name helps promote what you like.
Add to that your own lifestream, which of course, is under your name.
And when others like or comment on your entries, not only do they persist longer at the top of the stream, but the friends of those people will be exposed to your entries. More name share!
Now, start thinking about those things I listed above, like writing for a blog, comment on blogs or take great pictures. FriendFeed draws these actions in, with your attribution. They get promoted and seen. People find you because they follow your friends, and your friends follow your lifestream. Your name share grows.
With the right approach, FriendFeed can not only be a valuable source of news and new opinions, but also a fertile, open community where you can make your name known.