Angry twitter, clever friendfeed: A lesson in creating desire

Simon Mainwaring / Social / 5 years ago

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The acquisition of friendfeed by facebook was more than the latest battle in the war for social networking supremacy. It was a timeless lesson in creating desire. The strategic positioning of friendfeed made their brand more than desirable. It was irresistable. Here’s a few reasons why and how they did it:

KNOW WHO YOUR BOSS IS: While facebook and twitter vied for supremacy, friendfeed recognized that neither was in control. The user was. And that user didn’t want to be told what to do. So they spread their bets like a veteran gambler confident that eventually the house has to pay.

DON’T DRESS UP: While facebook and twitter boasted increasingly refined and distinct brand identities, friendfeed remained disarmingly crude. The effect, conscious or not, was to reassure people that their brand was all about their users rather than themselves.

SOMETIMES NO CHOICE IS THE RIGHT ONE: While facebook and twitter duked it out, friendfeed accomodated them both. In doing so, they put the user by first by not forcing a choice upon them. In a nascent market, the customer is always right even when they can’t decide.

FORCE A HAND: At the same time that friendfeed let consumers avoid a choice, they forced one on facebook and twitter if they wanted to re-claim their re-located DNA. They simply kept building an island in the middle of two oceans until the highest bidder stuck a flag in it.

TIP THE DEBATE: Obviously the issue on everyone’s fingertips is which service will go mainstream first. By serving as an aggregator friendfeed appealed to everyone. And its those people that are driving which service goes mainstream.

AVOID EXTINCTION: As an aggregator they built in the capacity to accomodate whatever direction consumer interest shifted. Inevitably, those using social networks will shift their loyalties as existing networks lose their luster and new ones appear. Either way, friendfeed positioned themselves as a safe bet. By being infinitely accommodating and scaleable, they ensured their survival and maintained their perceived value no matter what direction the market went.

BE CHUM IN THE WATER: When things are moving so fast and the future is so hard to discern, its sometimes better to be the fork in the road rather than the new direction. friendfeed positioned themselves as prime real estate in the space where the two titans collided almost guaranteeing their value in the marketplace.

While the war will continue yesterday belongs to facebook. Despite protests from friendfeed users, facebook acquired the veteran friendfeed staff, its real-time technical expertise and the perception of having the upper hand. Can a response from twitter be far away?

 Mark Zuckerberg and FriendFeed Co-Founders (with 50 million reasons to celebrate) Photo: Mashable

Mark Zuckerberg and FriendFeed Co-Founders (with 50 million reasons to celebrate) Photo: Courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg on his facebook account.

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6 Comments

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  1. Not sure I agree.
    Twitter has many “readers” – Tweetdeck, and the Seesmic one, just to name two, How many external “readers” are there for Facebook?

    I think has more to do with the fact that Facebook can eat into Twitters territory. Twitter pretty well allows any developer to create a 3rd party app OFF the Twitter site whereas Facebook historically mostly allows only with F8 (apps inside Facebook).

    Add the fact that Friendfeed pulls info in but it’s really for reading, not engagement (try responding to a tweet on Friendfeed, or retweeting…?) and you can see why it suits Facebook to purchase FF, not Twitter…

  2. Not sure I agree.
    Twitter has many “readers” – Tweetdeck, and the Seesmic one, just to name two, How many external “readers” are there for Facebook?

    I think has more to do with the fact that Facebook can eat into Twitters territory. Twitter pretty well allows any developer to create a 3rd party app OFF the Twitter site whereas Facebook historically mostly allows only with F8 (apps inside Facebook).

    Add the fact that Friendfeed pulls info in but it’s really for reading, not engagement (try responding to a tweet on Friendfeed, or retweeting…?) and you can see why it suits Facebook to purchase FF, not Twitter…

  3. admin says:

    Laurel,

    I completely agree. Friendfeed was suited to Facebook as a way to expand its reach, effectively serving as a reader outside it’s own network. For the same reason, friendfeed wasn’t as attractive or necessary to Twitter that already had many readers. So you’re definitely right and my post doesn’t factor that in.

    Perhaps my post was too simplistic but I was responding from a brand management point of view rather than through the lens of technology.

    My key point is that its never ideal to let a rival own a piece of your real estate, even if they need that technology and you don’t. By allowing facebook to buy friendfeed, twiitter lost a little of itself and facebook gained the expertise of their real time technology veterans.

    twitter currently owns the real time space and with facebook emulating them more and more within their own app, the last thing twitter wants is facebook also owning an external real time app on which twitter lives. I just think twitter’s defense should match facebook’s offense in such a dynamic competition.

    Thanks so much for pointing out their respective needs and I agree I should have qualified the comparison more.

    All the best,

    Simon

  4. admin says:

    Laurel,

    I completely agree. Friendfeed was suited to Facebook as a way to expand its reach, effectively serving as a reader outside it’s own network. For the same reason, friendfeed wasn’t as attractive or necessary to Twitter that already had many readers. So you’re definitely right and my post doesn’t factor that in.

    Perhaps my post was too simplistic but I was responding from a brand management point of view rather than through the lens of technology.

    My key point is that its never ideal to let a rival own a piece of your real estate, even if they need that technology and you don’t. By allowing facebook to buy friendfeed, twiitter lost a little of itself and facebook gained the expertise of their real time technology veterans.

    twitter currently owns the real time space and with facebook emulating them more and more within their own app, the last thing twitter wants is facebook also owning an external real time app on which twitter lives. I just think twitter’s defense should match facebook’s offense in such a dynamic competition.

    Thanks so much for pointing out their respective needs and I agree I should have qualified the comparison more.

    All the best,

    Simon

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