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How Bloggers Can Use FriendFeed Effectively

How Bloggers Can Use FriendFeed Effectively

How Content Producers and Bloggers Can Use FriendFeed Effectively

    FriendFeed is becoming more and more popular, and if you’re not on it yet, you’re in the minority. While some people stop what they’re doing to complain about the ever-changing landscape of social networking – don’t get me wrong, a totally valid peeve – get a headstart on them by becoming an effective FriendFeed user.

    First Stop: Managing the Signal-to-Noise Ratio

    Services like FriendFeed are known for generating a lot of noise. It’s not FriendFeed’s fault, though. It’s part and parcel of the service they offer, since it’s designed to collect all known sources of your content in one place.

    Think about it this way: the average blogger will post an article on their site, then go add it to Digg, StumbleUpon, and all the other bookmarking sites, declare its existence on Facebook, Twitter, Plurk and Tumblr, and then sit back and hope for some comments.

    What I’ve just outlined is actually a pretty light promotional routine, and we’re still up to seven notifications for the one post. That’s a terrible signal-to-noise ratio!

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    To become a respected member of the community the onus is on you to keep your signal high and noise low. Not on your friends, not on FriendFeed – just you. It’s a process of pruning, in some cases. When I first signed up for my own account, I plugged in all the services that it offered compatibility with. Then, over the next few days, I found myself tweeting at an abnormally high volume – effectively creating a bunch of noise and blocking out all the content on my FriendFeed page that I wanted people to see.

    In the end, the best thing for me to do was cut Twitter loose from FriendFeed to prune back the noise. Likewise, I use Tumblr to announce my work around the web in one place, because it can be so easily displayed in the sidebar of my own website. That makes my Tumblr account totally redundant as far as FriendFeed is concerned.

    Managing your own signal-to-noise is essential, but what about everyone else? The key is in being discriminatory and not subscribing to those who flood you with rubbish. On services like Twitter, you’re likely to follow others for the good conversation. With FriendFeed, it’s best to subscribe to people you actually know, are involved with in some kind of online venture, or are providing real, practical value to you through their feed.

    After you’ve followed a few high-signal friends, rooms are the best option for staying in touch with a community of people.

    Make the Signal Count: Offer Value to the Community

    It’s one thing to let FriendFeed collect your data from around the web and not pay much attention to how your feed looks. You might have trimmed it back by excluding Twitter and any other repetitive feeds, but your job is not yet done. If you want to make it worthwhile for others to subscribe to your feed, you have to provide them with value. They have to gain information they find either insanely useful or incredibly interesting from your feed.

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    The best way to do this is with the bookmarklet which allows you to post a link to any page you’re visiting with a description quickly and easily. Again, be discriminating. People do want gatekeepers, and despite the fact you’re not creating that content, just linking to it, that’s a valuable service to provide – so long as your subscribers like the way you filter information.

    Also remember to send resources to the rooms you’re involved with, using the bookmarklet. Always choose to submit content relevant to that room’s topic. This is a great way to find subscribers who wouldn’t have found your feed any other way.

    On a somewhat related aside, understanding and using the principles of gatekeeping theory can help you become a relevant content provider on the web.

    FriendFeed Rooms: Building Your Community

    A number of high-profile sites have started FriendFeed rooms that are encouraging the growth of active communities, such as our own Lifehack room and the ProBlogger room.

    You need to have either the time and energy to build a community from scratch or the brand recognition to create a room that is self-sustaining off the bat, but FriendFeed rooms are not just a great way to gain more subscribers for your own FriendFeed. You can start your own rooms to build a community for your site, or for a topic of interest.

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    If you don’t have a successful website or blog that enables you to open the room, announce it and leave it to grow on its own, you need to put in even more work getting it off the ground. Scour the web for great resources and link to them, use pictures to make it attractive and eye-catching, and make insightful and thought-provoking comments that get people thinking and replying with their own ideas. Reply to them. Partake in the community experience, and with some hard work you’ll have a room that’s worth subscribing to.

    Bloggers, and businesses, will recognize the value of having an active community.

    Microblogging Productively – Oxymoron or What?

    While this article is about FriendFeed, this next section can apply to Twitter, Pownce, Plurk, and all the rest of ’em too.

    Asking how to use these services while having a productive work day is like asking your goldfish to bark. And if it can bark, it may be a candidate for a speedy flushing, or submission to a freakshow. It’s impossible to use these services and be productive, when it comes down to it. However, there are some measures you can take to regain some of your productivity and at least make it look like you have a work ethic.

    1. Turn off notifications in any app – such as Growl – that have the ability to alert you to new feed items and tweets.

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    2. Don’t use the web while working – if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that already! Exceptions apply to bloggers and other ‘web-workers’ who can’t get their job done without having a browser open.

    3. Use self-discipline. Self-discipline is like a muscle, and what better way to exercise it and make it stronger than by keeping the heck away from distractions like Twitter or FriendFeed when you’re doing work that involves high levels of concentration? I bet even the founders of those services abide by this rule.

    Seriously, using self-discipline is the only way to remain productive at anything, anytime. All other productivity tips and systems depend on it; none of them can replace it. But with the motherly part of the article out of the way…

    Get over to FriendFeed and start making it work for you!

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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