The Sorry State of Following In Social Networks

The Sorry State of Following In Social Networks

If content marketing is king, and the information is SO valuable, why is our “follow” mechanism so messed up? Let’s look at all the ways we follow, subscribe, read, and stay up-to-date.

Back in the early days of following we had several options. RSS feeds and email subscriptions.

Following in Social Networks

As things branched out, a cool company Friendfeed created the meta-feed app for collecting and following any type of post, or update. Once you grabbed someone’s Friendfeed you could set it and forget it. You wouldn’t need to worry that Facebook was going to filter their updates, or that Tweets were going to fly past so fast you’d miss them. You could open a single page, for that object of desire, and all of their activity would be captured and reported back to you for digesting and disseminating.

Then Facebook bought Friendfeed and we’re FF-users feared for the worse. But nothing happened. For about a year. And then executives decided they would unhook Twitter (a rival network) from the FF model. Buy doing that, they effectively killed Friendfeed.

Today, it is hard to measure your influence. Even pageviews of your website/blog doesn’t capture your full reach. Much of our content is consumed today via RSS feeds (that never redirect to the originating site), aggregation services like Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, and then on the myriad of smaller networks, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat… On and on.

The harder part is trying to gather and save the output of your sources. For example, it might be beneficial for you to watch all the channels of your nearest competitors in business. But today, it’s a very hard system to set up. It can be done, but Friendfeed used to do it for free. And any time a new network would popup, Friendfeed would simply add a type, and you could stream the newest flavor to your audience, or watch the newest posts from your competition.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to build systems that replicate some of Friendfeed’s functionality. Using tools like Netvibes and Yahoo Pipes, I have spent way too many hours trying to automate my collecting and gathering of information.

Why, when some great technology gets swallowed up and killed by a tech giant, can’t we get in the business of building a better version. A better Friendfeed. As a business model, it’s likely that if you created FF 2.0 and it was successful, perhaps your exit strategy would be a Facebook take over. And someone would start on FF 3.0.

Unfortunately tech business and social networks don’t work that way. And I am not the programmer nor the capitalized entrepreneur to figure it out. But I wish…

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Check out the Digital Strategist’s Notebook page and these other posts about learning social media:

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