I have been using Twitter for close to a year and FriendFeed maybe half that time at best and I feel its finally time for me to declare which service is better. Before I announce the better service, I should say that their overall function is similar but not exactly the same.
For those that don’t know, Twitter is a great “micro-blogging” tool. With Twitter, you are encouraged to tell people what you are doing. You can also have conversations on Twitter and share the really cool things you find online with all of your friends. The number of things that can be done with Twitter is practically limitless. Twitter also has a huge community around it to the point that there are tons of programs that allow users to interact with the service, such as TweetDeck, something not common with other services. FriendFeed on the other hand is this (minus the large community) and more.
FriendFeed allows you to do the same things as I mentioned above with Twitter, but you can do much more with it. FriendFeed is about aggregating your online presence and sharing it with other people who can share it with their contacts if they choose. With FriendFeed, whenever you write a blog post, put a picture on Flickr, Digg a story or do pretty much anything else, it will be put in your stream for all you contacts to see and comment. When a friend likes or comments on your posts, the content is shared with their friends which allows for content to spread to many people very quickly who would likely have not known about the content otherwise. With threaded comments that are essentially open to anybody assuming an item shows up in your feed to comment on, FriendFeed allows for much a much greater discussion with many people than can be done with Twitter.
Given this comparison, FriendFeed clearly seems to be superior to Twitter, but its not a perfect service. With Twitter, you can follow many people, but the more people you follow, the less valuable the service becomes because you tend to miss tweets and don’t always know what is going on. Personally, I find the maximum number of people I can follow while not becoming completely overwhelmed with Tweets is around 200, but I would say that 150 is a more reasonable number. This depends of course on how often the people you follow tweet, but it seems to be a good number for most people. FriendFeed on the other hand, the more people you follow, the more valuable the service becomes. Since the conversations are opened to everybody and not just to a friend or two, there isn’t a real negitive impact for following a large number of people. I find that the more people I am subscribed to on FriendFeed, the more cool items that I find interesting come across my FriendFeed. Since many of the people I follow comment on similar things, while my feed is a little busier, it doesn’t seem to become overwhelming. Also, with the more people you follow, the more cool things you will find. The only problem here is that FriendFeed only has a fraction of the users that Twitter does.
As I am sure you can tell, I prefer FriendFeed to Twitter for many reasons, but I still use Twitter (whos messages are aggregated into FriendFeed) because it has more users who I have a closer relationship with than my FriendFeed friends. If my Twitter friends were on FriendFeed, I would be likely to leave Twitter. I do think that this will change in the future as more people see that more value can be gained from FriendFeed than Twitter. Until that time comes, its really about where the people are at, which at this time is Twitter.
While Twitter is a great service, one which I use many times of day, I think it is no where close to providing the value that can be offered by FriendFeed. Not taking into account the community surrounding the service (various apps that use the service such as TweetDeck), the only thing that Twitter is better for is the larger number of users. FriendFeed is better in most every aspect which is why I think it is the better service.
What do you think about FriendFeed and Twitter? Which do you think is a better service?