Friendfeed stats show its just Twitter with bookmarks

Yesterday I looked at the latest Friendfeed stats using the nice Friendfeedstats tool build by Benjamin Golub. I looked up which feeds are aggregated most in Friendfeed in the last 30 days. In 30 days approximately 1.3 Mln items were shared on Friendfeed.

Turns out there is a clear winner, but it might not be what you think. It isn’t links to sites, blogs, content, video, pictures, or shared Google reader items. It’s Twitter! 54% of all content aggregated on Friendfeed is Twitter (that’s almost 740.000 tweets a month). The second place is taken by Blog posts, leading to 15% of all content aggregation. The top feeds aggregated into Friendfeed now looks like:

  1. Twitter (54%)
  2. Blogs (15%)
  3. Google reader (9%)
  4. Tumblr (4%)
  5. StumbleUpon, Digg, all score (3%)
  6. Flickr, YouTube score (2%)
  7. Friendfeed, Gmail/GTalk, Last FM, Jaiku all score (1%)

24 other services score less than 1% of the total content aggregated. The amount of content being generated increased fast after launch. While January and February of 2008 showed less that 50.000 entries being shared, in March the number of shared items reached 1 Mln, and April shows 1.3 Mln entries. I don’t know exactly how many users generated these items.

I went to compete to compare Friendfeed, Twitter and TechMeme and got the following results:

Nr of visitors FriendFeed, Twitter and TechMeme

FriendFeed, Twitter and TechMeme attention montly

It’s a bit unfair to compare Friendfeed to services that have existed a bit longer. It’s hard to draw conclusions yet, but looking at the number of visits Friendfeed is quickly nearing TechMeme, while Twitter is still in another league. Looking at the attention data however, TechMeme does a lot better than Friedfeed.

I looked at the Friendfeed stats earlier and concluded then that it was an echo chamber of things we already know. Most bloggers seem to like Friendfeed for 2 things:

  1. The filtering of information that is done by the people they follow
  2. The ability to comment on entries

The statistics seem to suggest that only a marginal number of people comments on entries, as Friendfeed input only makes up 1% of all content aggregation. It’s fair to say that I am not sure how Benjamin calculates the Friendfeed statistics. It could be that comments and likes aren’t part of his analysis (will ask him).

I wrote a post earlier in which I stated that Friendfeed seems capable of becoming a competitor for TechMeme. The main reason for this assumption is that right now Friendfeed compiles mostly blog posts and Google blog reader shared items (if we forget about Twitter). If we assume that Friendfeed is used mostly by the early adaptors, then it shows the most important blog posts for this tech group. Friendfeed has some advantages over TechMeme. It allows anyone to post his or her blog, whereas TechMeme complies only the most popular ones (using some algorithm). Within Friendfeed you can comment on entires, so it provides more interaction than TechMeme does.

At the same time, TechMeme probably reduces the noise level as on a typical day only some 150 posts even make it to TechMeme. Friendfeed aggregates anything that is fed into it, leading to 10000 blog posts per day. TechMeme might be a bit strict, but Friendfeed doesn’t make any distinction. You receive everything the people you follow decide to share.

While the Friendfeed team did an incredible job implementing so many different feed sources that can be imported, it becomes clear from the data that the Tech Elite requires only 3 sources right now. Twitter, blog entries and Google Reader.

The Friendfeed founders had a pretty clear idea what Friendfeed should be (from the Friendfeed site):

FriendFeed enables you to keep up-to-date on the web pages, photos, videos and music that your friends and family are sharing. It offers a unique way to discover and discuss information among friends.

It becomes obvious that the early adopters are not filling in this promise. To this community, Friendfeed is nothing more than a new distribution platform for blog posts. It is precisely for this reason that I am not so optimistic about Friendfeed being able to deliver on the consumer promise made above. Right now it offers a technical solution for the import of many different feeds into one place. But I believe that the setup offers non-tech people too much functionality. I doubt that consumers are interested in so many different feeds. The fragmentation in web 2.0 is pretty clear within Friendfeed. Just because they can import so many feeds doesn’t mean that people will actually do that. I think Friendfeed could easily become the most important tool for the tech community. I can think of two simple improvements:

  • Instead of showing me all duplicate shared entries (echo, echo), why not show or search the statistics (N people have shared this blog post) This allows me to see what is shared most, or is most read right now)
  • Same thing for comments. Which entries gets the most comments or likes. Show me the entries that are discussed most right now, that’s the place where a tech blogger wants to be.

With a few minor improvements Friendfeed could become a much better news source than TechMeme, Technorati, etc. But in its current form it won’t easily break out of the tech community into the consumer market.

Friendfeed might be a novel way to aggregate content in one place. But right now it is just Twitter and bookmarks. Nothing more, nothing less.


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37 Responses to Friendfeed stats show its just Twitter with bookmarks

  1. Can you fix your first URL? It’s got an extra . in it

  2. Oh, and it is missing an s at the end!

  3. @benjamin, fixed it, sorry about that

  4. engtech says:

    “The statistics seem to suggest that only a marginal number of people comments on entries, as Friendfeed input only makes up 1% of all content aggregation.”

    That 1% is items people share with Friend Feed, not comments.

    Any item can have comments irregardless of how it was shared.

    Click here:

    It’s only items shared using Friend Feed, not all items with comments.

  5. @engtech I know we can comment anything, but I don’t know yet how Benjamin calculates the Friendfeed stats. It would be very interesting to see how many entries are actually commented. So the friendfeed input could be just input using friendfeed, but for now I assumed comments were included in that calculation.

  6. Dave Winer says:

    Very interesting. I noticed the same thing. I think they have a chance to be the second source for Twitter-like functionality but I don’t think they’re very aware of Twitter down at FF. Maybe they are now. 🙂

  7. engtech says:

    @alex: No, comments aren’t included in that calculation.

    Ben calculates his stats by service. “Internal” is just another service, and it shows the items posted directly to friend feed (like when you add service=internal on the url in the example I posted above).

    Here’s the source code to

  8. Now FriendFeed is Twitter-variation with specific conversations-comments and search.FriendFeed conception is needed to improve.

  9. Mitch Wagner says:

    Great analysis! However, I disagree with this analysis:

    “Instead of showing me all duplicate shared entries (echo, echo), why not show or search the statistics (N people have shared this blog post) This allows me to see what is shared most, or is most read right now)”

    I have zero interest in knowing what’s most popular for all FF users at any given moment. I have TechMeme for that — and frankly I only check TechMeme a few times a month. I’m interested in following individual users.

    I interviewed the FriendFeed founders yesterday, and will post the write-up in the next couple of days. They’re not interested in tapping into the entire blogosphere zeitgeist either — they want you and your friends to follow each others’ feeds. There are other tools for tapping into the Web zeitgeist.

    And now to find your FriendFeed and friend it (if I haven’t already).

  10. engtech says:

    It would be interesting to see the overall comments as it’s own statistic, but even that wouldn’t tell you what you’re looking for.

    Comments can be generated by people or generated by services (IE: save something to delicious with a note, and it shows up in FF as a link with a comment) and there’s absolutely no way to tell them apart.

  11. @Mitch, the statistics are add ons that could make Friendfeed a better competitor for TechMeme (although their ambitions might be elsewhere). But I get the echo also from just my friends (that’s the only view I use in FF). Instead of showing every friend sharing the link, I’d rather see the link and then summarized behind it how many friends have shared it, and who did so.

  12. @engtech you are right, but then again, it doesn’t need to be perfect. The one thing that distinguishes FF from other services is the commenting possibility. That’s what makes it interesting as a content aggregator. Benjamin told me (using Twitter btw 😉 ) that he will be working on building something for it.

  13. Mike Doeff says:

    This is exactly why I don’t view FriendFeed as a Twitter killer. The two can coexist and complement each other. So many people seem to think that these two are in direct competition.

  14. Mitch Wagner says:

    @Alexander I actually like the echo – sometimes I need to be told about a story several times before I actually click on it.

    Be interesting if they aggregated redundant links *and* included all the alternate headlines and comments that people put on those links. And offered it as an optional view. They seem big on options on FriendFeed, which I approve of.

    I don’t see competing with TechMeme as something worth doing. I think Techmeme is great for what it is – but it’s only appealing to tech bloggers, not even the *readers* of tech bloggers. Certainly our readers don’t care about TechMeme. And when TechMeme links to one of our stories, the traffic bump we get is marginal.

  15. @Mitch, looking at the mission statement of FF if you will, I doubt they will ever want to compete with TechMeme. But I do have doubts they can fill in this promise for non-tech consumers.

  16. I think that FriendFeed would be a better complement if you could filter out feeds that you get from other channels. For example, if I follow Alexander on Twitter, I don’t want to see his Tweets in his FriendFeed. It is just duplication for me. I would want to see everything else though.

  17. “I believe that the setup offers non-tech people too much functionality. I doubt that consumers are interested in so many different feeds.”

    You’re probably right. But haven’t the everyday-user consumers pretty much adopted Facebook as the general-purpose “let’s share” platform? That’s my experience. Whereas FF is experimenting at the edge with the early adopters of various Web2 services. Right now Twitter and blogs dominate, but the flexibility means that other stuff could grow. If I understand FF correctly, which I doubt I do, yet!

  18. Mitch Wagner says:

    @Alexander – I agree with you – they have a long way to go before they can connect with consumers, I think for two reasons:

    – The user interface is too intimidating. That’s actually surmountable; I mean, if consumers can figure out Facebook they can figure out anything.

    – They’re not currently aggregating the services that consumers use. Geeks use Flickr, I use Flickr, my brother-in-law the accountant uses Snapfish, for example.

  19. Majo Tech says:

    As you said it is a bit unfair to compete friendfeed with techmeme and twitter, yet to be honest I don’t believe the stats from compete at all. I just did and shows 4.000 visits or something which is totally not true. Site receives over 18.000 visits per month.

    Would you agree disagree?

  20. @Majo Tech I can’t agree or disagree on that. I don’t know enough about the accuracy of Compete statistics.

  21. Brij says:

    Great analysis Alexander. To your point –

    “Friendfeed is nothing more than a new distribution platform for blog posts”

    Do you think there will be overlap with Google Reader?

  22. @Brij The Google reader share items is a large part of FF already. There is overlap, but FF created a much more social version of it by allowing people to comment and like the shared items.

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  28. Hexy says:

    I might not be agree with this:
    “Most bloggers seem to like Friendfeed for 2 things:

    1. The filtering of information that is done by the people they follow
    2. The ability to comment on entries”

    I almost have no idea why I have to go back to friendfeed after I’ve imported my feed,even if I already had lots of followers.

    Friendfeed is just one more platform to show my content.This is the only thing it means to me.

    I think there’re lots of problem with friendfeed,include:
    1.Too much noise(as you said) which was redundancy,repeated,or I might not be interested in….
    2.There’s no place on friendfeed to see all comments from other people.On the other hand,they almost went to the original page to comment to me.
    3.Almost I find my interested content through twitter(via twitterfeed crosspost) or diigo(others’ bookmark) or RSSreader.This is the important thing I think why I never go back to friendfeed.

    1.I’ve already had habitual ways to find content,and those ways could control or let me control the quantity and quality of content.They “knew” my taste!

    2.Whether friendfeed or my habitual ways to get news or show my news,the interaction between other authors with me almost happens in the original page.

    3.Most people like to “crosspost” their content anywhere via feed or tools like twitterfeed.So although friendfeed offer “millions” application to let people import their content,it only collects more noise,not “hightlights”.
    In this regard,other social bookmark/dig/mashable websites and twitter like sites do better a lot.They have mature and effective screening method.

    I don’t mean I am not optimistic about LifeStream.Just think this form is more suitable for personal individual.Mash may not be the best way for everything.

  29. Lluwellyn says:

    If you are not perplexed you should be. As the web becomes ever more ubiquitous, it infiltrates our lives and shapes what we think is possible, we are increasingly unnerved about what we might have unleashed.

    Will the web promote democratic collaboration and creativity? Or will it be a malign influence, rendering us collectively stupid by our reliance on what mainstream people think about day to day. (take a look at youtube whats most viewed) or even worst er what the largest Social Network do to us. thus it make us more aware what’s going on in the real world?

    How will it change the way we think and behave and what will its growing domination Social Network provider of the world of information and ideas do to us? Clearly there is enormous potential.

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