Did I harm my blog by FriendFeeding this year?

Since I’ve been blogging eight years this month I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my blog and how I want to do things differently in 2009.

I told Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, that I wonder if I’ve made smart time investments in 2008 by spending so much time on Twitter and friendfeed. Yeah, I knew about the Chinese earthquake before pretty much anyone, and 45 minutes before CNN reported it, but doing that required being online with Twitter open late at night after most of you had gone to sleep or were watching some TV.

He just posted that I need a friendfeed intervention, which is why I’m writing this post.

About a month ago I asked people over on FriendFeed and the comments came in hot and heavy. Of course most of them thought I did a good thing by spending so much time on FriendFeed this year.

How much time? I told Arrington tonight that I bet it’s seven hours a day or more. I started in late February. So, that’s around 2,000 hours. What did I get for my 2,000 hour investment this year?

22,997 followers.
6,841 comments. (These are blogs and items I had something to say about, so I left a comment on them).
13,078 likes. (These are blogs and items made by other people that I wanted to share with you).
I manually followed 5,405 people. (You can see all the content they generate in real time here).

Anyway, what did I give up by spending time on Twitter and friendfeed?

  1. A few of my friends think I am not as good a thought leader anymore because they don’t get as many long posts as I used to do.
  2. If you check Compete.com you’ll see my overall traffic went down about 14% this year while FriendFeed’s traffic went up 4,056%.
  3. I don’t get any money from friendfeed, while on my blog I do sell ads now.
  4. I’m not breaking as many stories anymore so I’m showing up on TechMeme less and less.
  5. Arrington himself told me he is reading me less on my blog, although lots of the “A list” crowd have been showing up on friendfeed now that it has hit a certain audience size and is starting to show up on their referral logs.

What did I gain by being on friendfeed and Twitter?

  1. I now get a much wider-range of news and am available to a wider range of people.
  2. My words now get indexed by the two most popular “real-time web” search engines: Twitter Search and friendfeed search. I know people who get their news by visiting Twitter search and looking at what news is “trending,” or becoming more popular.
  3. I am now part of the conversation in a way that I’d never be if I were just blogging. Seth Godin, for instance, only blogs and he rarely gets discussed on Twitter or friendfeed. If he were active he’d be discussed 25x more.
  4. I’ve made a lot of friends that are just reading me on twitter, I’ve met many people at Tweetups and the like that I’d never have met if I weren’t so active.
  5. By being active I’ve been quoted in countless articles about Twitter or friendfeed, which helps me too.
  6. Because I listen to the conversation I am getting better video interviews. Compete.com shows that FastCompany.TV is growing nicely this year and has taken up the slack for my blog. Add that into all my new readers on Twitter and friendfeed and I’m happy about my total readership. Seagate deserves a lot of thanks there for sponsoring FastCompany.TV back when there were no viewers.
  7. I now have a new news source that other bloggers won’t have: a crowd of 5,400 people who are bringing me the best news from around the web in real time. Already I’m seeing stuff there that will turn into blog posts and insights that other people aren’t seeing. Because I’ve build relationships with many of these people over the past year they call me and warn me about important news before they call other people. This “funnel” of news could be a sizeable advantage for someone trying to compete in a very competitive space.
  8. I now have a list of 23,000 people on friendfeed and 44,692 on Twitter that I can show potential sponsors. Before all I could say is my monthly uniques.
  9. In friendfeed Mike Arrington has 15,108 followers and I have 22,999. Mike has a LOT more blog readers than I have, so he should have dramatically more followers than I have on friendfeed. But by participating in these services I have collected more subscribers. Do they offset the same number of blog readers I’d have if I spent so much time blogging instead of hanging out on friendfeed? That’s the question that got Mike and I to talk.

Why does this all matter? Well, if you are going to do this as a business you’ve got to prove how many readers you have and demonstrate both audience size as well as influence.

The other thing that advertisers are asking me for is quantitative data about who is reading me. Some companies now don’t want to reach geeks, for instance. So, they are looking at your social networks to see what kind of audience you’ve attracted.

So, what do you think? Do I need a friendfeed intervention? Looking forward to having a good conversation. Of COURSE we are talking about this on friendfeed. In fact, in multiple places. :-)

191 thoughts on “Did I harm my blog by FriendFeeding this year?

  1. I tried to spend atleast 4 hours a day on twitter for 7 days and the ROI is too bad. People tend to not click on links provided by others on twitter. The description is too short for the link to be click. And you can’t overcommunicate with others through @replies because it can annoy others.

    But guys, you can follow me on twitter.

  2. I tried to spend atleast 4 hours a day on twitter for 7 days and the ROI is too bad. People tend to not click on links provided by others on twitter. The description is too short for the link to be click. And you can’t overcommunicate with others through @replies because it can annoy others.

    But guys, you can follow me on twitter.

  3. Blogs fing rock. Slam period.

    140 char info- yawn. Streams of meaningless verbal hash- entertaining. I dig it. K?

    But something about life requires a resounding richness tool for dispensation. Blogs do this. Blogs do this like nothing else.

    All the big name mind spewage are as elusive digital farts when condensed onto a Twitter stream which is why they have to fing work so hard.

    Twitter the easy crap. Blog us the grails.

  4. Blogs fing rock. Slam period.

    140 char info- yawn. Streams of meaningless verbal hash- entertaining. I dig it. K?

    But something about life requires a resounding richness tool for dispensation. Blogs do this. Blogs do this like nothing else.

    All the big name mind spewage are as elusive digital farts when condensed onto a Twitter stream which is why they have to fing work so hard.

    Twitter the easy crap. Blog us the grails.

  5. Great post, Robert! I think the social medium you are embracing is the future. Blogs will always have their place but the movement of real-time “tracking” of people’s actions is clearly becoming a necessity especially in the tech industry. While there’s always a balance to be found (you’re right, you don’t post as much which is unfortunate) the immediacy of information (for those of us able to track it throughout the day) is powerful to say the least. Numbers don’t lie. No intervention necessary IMO.

  6. Great post, Robert! I think the social medium you are embracing is the future. Blogs will always have their place but the movement of real-time “tracking” of people’s actions is clearly becoming a necessity especially in the tech industry. While there’s always a balance to be found (you’re right, you don’t post as much which is unfortunate) the immediacy of information (for those of us able to track it throughout the day) is powerful to say the least. Numbers don’t lie. No intervention necessary IMO.

  7. I’m relatively new to Twitter, surrounded by a few hundred people, and even at such a low number, I’m struggling with the transient nature of the information stream.

    I can’t spend all day looking at the Twitter-ticker, and if I don’t, I miss things that I may care about. It seems that the more people I follow, the less value I’m able to get from Twitter (more noise), but the more people follow me, the greater my perceived social IQ. Am I the only one feeling this way?

  8. I’m relatively new to Twitter, surrounded by a few hundred people, and even at such a low number, I’m struggling with the transient nature of the information stream.

    I can’t spend all day looking at the Twitter-ticker, and if I don’t, I miss things that I may care about. It seems that the more people I follow, the less value I’m able to get from Twitter (more noise), but the more people follow me, the greater my perceived social IQ. Am I the only one feeling this way?

  9. Robert,

    I am curious and like learning things. I have been aware of your existence since you worked in Microsoft, and probably read a few dozen blog posts over the years. All memorable, but so what…

    In 2008, I ended up following you, because @scobleizer kept invading my twitter stream (same goes for @guykawasaki), and I was missing half the conversation…so I followed, and this is what I learn (apart from the tech stuff):
    * You want to get smarter
    * You will talk to anyone to get smarter
    * You kid likes building lego (qik)
    * You like peaceful pictures
    * You like meeting people before/during/after taking peaceful pictures
    * You like to change you mind (anyone around for a drink/oops changed my mind)
    * You take the safest option, based on public opinion
    * You like to do it in a way that creates (mild) controversy.

    So, I guess, yes, twitter and ff has allowed to get me to know the man behind the name, and I also subscribed to your blog, but I don’t read your blog any more.

    So what are you going to do for 2009? I expect that you will listen to the comments here, pull back for a few months, experience withdrawal symptoms, find a new toy to play with, and reinvent yourself again for 2009. If I were you, I would capitalize on the money/advertising/endorsement, cash in and get out. You’re not getting any younger.

    Oh, and you have encouraged me to be more forthright, honest and outspoken on my blog too.

    All the best, Scobleizer..

    Navdeep.

    P.S. Then next time you are in the UK, I will give you a call.
    P.P.S. Love your Twitter Idiot Land post

  10. Robert,

    I am curious and like learning things. I have been aware of your existence since you worked in Microsoft, and probably read a few dozen blog posts over the years. All memorable, but so what…

    In 2008, I ended up following you, because @scobleizer kept invading my twitter stream (same goes for @guykawasaki), and I was missing half the conversation…so I followed, and this is what I learn (apart from the tech stuff):
    * You want to get smarter
    * You will talk to anyone to get smarter
    * You kid likes building lego (qik)
    * You like peaceful pictures
    * You like meeting people before/during/after taking peaceful pictures
    * You like to change you mind (anyone around for a drink/oops changed my mind)
    * You take the safest option, based on public opinion
    * You like to do it in a way that creates (mild) controversy.

    So, I guess, yes, twitter and ff has allowed to get me to know the man behind the name, and I also subscribed to your blog, but I don’t read your blog any more.

    So what are you going to do for 2009? I expect that you will listen to the comments here, pull back for a few months, experience withdrawal symptoms, find a new toy to play with, and reinvent yourself again for 2009. If I were you, I would capitalize on the money/advertising/endorsement, cash in and get out. You’re not getting any younger.

    Oh, and you have encouraged me to be more forthright, honest and outspoken on my blog too.

    All the best, Scobleizer..

    Navdeep.

    P.S. Then next time you are in the UK, I will give you a call.
    P.P.S. Love your Twitter Idiot Land post

  11. There is a lot to be said for temporarily focusing on FriendFeed and Twitter to build a following of readers, then returning to longer blog posts knowing that those readers will be sharing your ideas on your behalf. It could even be said that would be a very wise strategy – in hindsight or foresight!

  12. There is a lot to be said for temporarily focusing on FriendFeed and Twitter to build a following of readers, then returning to longer blog posts knowing that those readers will be sharing your ideas on your behalf. It could even be said that would be a very wise strategy – in hindsight or foresight!

  13. Robert, you always know how to create a headline. In my very humble opinion, you have done very well in both endeavors. You go where the meat is, so to speak. I would suppose there is some concern over negatively impacting your revenue stream, but if you can quantify an extended reach, as Louis suggested, the perhaps there is a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow!

    I think you are demonstrating that there are many sides to the proverbial coin. Neither is right or wrong, and you have quite accurately captured solid points and their counter-points.

    I will say from the perspective of a social media novice, Twitter and FriendFeed have made you more accessible to “Joe Sixpack” ;-) Thanks for that at least.

  14. Robert, you always know how to create a headline. In my very humble opinion, you have done very well in both endeavors. You go where the meat is, so to speak. I would suppose there is some concern over negatively impacting your revenue stream, but if you can quantify an extended reach, as Louis suggested, the perhaps there is a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow!

    I think you are demonstrating that there are many sides to the proverbial coin. Neither is right or wrong, and you have quite accurately captured solid points and their counter-points.

    I will say from the perspective of a social media novice, Twitter and FriendFeed have made you more accessible to “Joe Sixpack” ;-) Thanks for that at least.

  15. Robert,

    “A leader goes first.”

    Only you know whether or not what you’re doing is right, and even then, you can be wrong. But that’s not what makes a leader useful. What makes a leader useful is optimism—your belief in the potential you envision.

    Your belief in the potential you see allows great things to happen and rallies people to a different future. Whether it’s a “better” future is hard to say, but leaders are there to inspire people to make change, and “better” usually comes with change.

    I’m wired for leadership, too, and I can see great potential in the direction you seem to be heading in. I see the possibility that you see, but perhaps others do not.

    If you believe in what you’re doing and you know it is right, keep going. Be prepared to fall flat on your face. That’s the price you pay for forging a new trail. Sometimes you’ll find a new land, filled with treasure. Sometimes you’ll wonder off a (not-very-steep) cliff and end up battered and bruised.

    That’s the price a leader pays, and he pays it willingly, because he can clearly see that, if what he envisions _does_ happen, the world will be better in some way.

    Nothing you do here can be detrimental in the long-term. If you fall off a cliff, you will learn from it and it will be educational. If you find treasure, then what you originally saw will be validated and you will be called a visionary.

    When both paths lead to a win, the only question left is “what do I want to experience right now?”

    Then go do it, and if needed, find a way to make it work.

    – Bruce

  16. Robert,

    “A leader goes first.”

    Only you know whether or not what you’re doing is right, and even then, you can be wrong. But that’s not what makes a leader useful. What makes a leader useful is optimism—your belief in the potential you envision.

    Your belief in the potential you see allows great things to happen and rallies people to a different future. Whether it’s a “better” future is hard to say, but leaders are there to inspire people to make change, and “better” usually comes with change.

    I’m wired for leadership, too, and I can see great potential in the direction you seem to be heading in. I see the possibility that you see, but perhaps others do not.

    If you believe in what you’re doing and you know it is right, keep going. Be prepared to fall flat on your face. That’s the price you pay for forging a new trail. Sometimes you’ll find a new land, filled with treasure. Sometimes you’ll wonder off a (not-very-steep) cliff and end up battered and bruised.

    That’s the price a leader pays, and he pays it willingly, because he can clearly see that, if what he envisions _does_ happen, the world will be better in some way.

    Nothing you do here can be detrimental in the long-term. If you fall off a cliff, you will learn from it and it will be educational. If you find treasure, then what you originally saw will be validated and you will be called a visionary.

    When both paths lead to a win, the only question left is “what do I want to experience right now?”

    Then go do it, and if needed, find a way to make it work.

    – Bruce

  17. To rev an old saw, “size [and numbers of followers] is not everything”- more a question of the (?) qualitative value of this activity to others and yourself. Multiple answers.

    I’d consider also what is the longer record you will have of what you did- if you have 8 years of blog posts, you have a searchable, linkable archive. Old tweets fall off the edge…

  18. To rev an old saw, “size [and numbers of followers] is not everything”- more a question of the (?) qualitative value of this activity to others and yourself. Multiple answers.

    I’d consider also what is the longer record you will have of what you did- if you have 8 years of blog posts, you have a searchable, linkable archive. Old tweets fall off the edge…

  19. come back to blogging. i am the non-tech type that your adverts desire. i actually removed you from rss feed for a while b/c there was nothing here. i wont go chasing the conv in ff & twitter or wherever. i just dont have the time b/c i have other stuff to do.

  20. come back to blogging. i am the non-tech type that your adverts desire. i actually removed you from rss feed for a while b/c there was nothing here. i wont go chasing the conv in ff & twitter or wherever. i just dont have the time b/c i have other stuff to do.

  21. truth be told, I always attributed your decreasing blogging to your video-work, back during the (was it pre?)fastcompany-days. It’s so much harder to index that kind of stuff through Techmeme et al and feels pretty incompatible with this whole blogging thing anyway (whereas you can skim text, you can’t really skim video).

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