Gmail is My FriendFeed Client – Stay N Alive

Gmail is My FriendFeed Client

FriendFeedA couple days ago I showed you my own unique way of managing Twitter. This method utilizes my e-mail client, Gmail, to track and force Twitter messages to come to me instead of myself needing to constantly check the site or my preferred Twitter client for new messages about me, my brand, or other topics I like to monitor. I’ve also spoken recently about my hiatus from RSS and how I’ve significantly reduced the number of feeds I monitor and instead I “media-snack” (as Robert Scoble calls it) on FriendFeed where I am still able to get as much, if not more information about the latest and greatest tech news as I have always done before. But how do I manage FriendFeed? You may be surprised to hear that I do it in almost the exact same way I do Twitter – I use Gmail. Here’s how I do it:

Native FriendFeed Notifications

Let’s start with the fact that FriendFeed actually provides its own useful ways of monitoring your conversations so you don’t have to keep coming back to the site, something Twitter and various Twitter clients have not been very good at doing (PeopleBrowsr seems closest to providing the ideal solution to this). On any page (except saved searches – we’ll get to that later), you’ll notice a new feature in the upper-right that says “E-mail/IM”. If you click on that it will drop down some more options. You can select it to deliver just new posts on the given page, new posts and just your friends’ comments, or new posts and all comments. You can then select any option to deliver those to either your e-mail, IM client, or FriendFeed’s own native desktop popup client (which you can download and install here). FriendFeed then uses the e-mail and IM settings you have set in your settings to deliver this information to your desired location. The great thing about this is that you can use it for any of your friend lists, any room on FriendFeed, or even your own discussions page (“My Discussions” on the right).

FriendFeed E-mail/IM link

So here’s what I do: I simply went to my “My Discussions” page, selected the option to deliver all new posts and all comments to my e-mail client, and now anything I comment on, or like, or any likes or comments on the posts that I import into FriendFeed now get delivered to my e-mail account. I don’t miss any of the conversation this way .  I think everyone should do this, even if you don’t participate on FriendFeed because it ensures you know, immediately, when anyone comments on one of the things you’re already importing into FriendFeed. If you’re not actively using FriendFeed, you should do this out of respect to those that are.

Now here’s where Gmail is important: if you actively like or comment on other members’ posts, you’ll then get every single comment on that post afterwards. Usually, that’s not so bad, if you’ve ever participated in one of Robert Scoble’s threads, or any other hot topic on FriendFeed, you’ll quickly notice that the number of comments can go into the hundreds at times. This will very quickly fill up your inbox!

Gmail solves this problem easily. On the thread in Gmail you’re tired of hearing from, simply click the “m” button on your keyboard. Instantly, the thread gets moved to your Archive folder and you’ll never see it again unless you click your “All Messages” folder. You’ll notice in that folder it now has a “muted” label next to it. Go to the thread and click “m” again and it will un-mute itself. There’s no better client for managing this. And if you know me, I’m religious about reading all my e-mail. Gmail makes this possible.

In addition, FriendFeed also enables users to respond to the conversation, right in their e-mail client. I simply hit “reply” on any conversation I want to add to right in Gmail, and my comment immediately (yes, in real-time) gets added to the conversation. Not only that, but you can easily DM me on FriendFeed, yes, via your e-mail client. Simply send any message, including photos (works great from my iphone!) to (my – works the same for your username) and your message will go straight to my FriendFeed DM box. Or, send any message, or photos (again, works great from my iPhone!) to and your message and/or photos will go straight to your public stream on FriendFeed. You never have to leave your e-mail client.

Now, what if you want to track what others are saying about your brand, and don’t want to have to keep checking back in your saved searches links on the right in FriendFeed? (you are using saved-searches, aren’t you?) Yes, there’s an app for that.

Introducing BackType

We’ll cover this in the next post in this series more thoroughly, but BackType is a service that tracks and reports comments around the web. FriendFeed is one of the sites it tracks comments for. To get notifications when your name is mentioned on FriendFeed, simply go to BackType, set up a saved search for your name, brand, or whatever other terms you want to track, enable e-mail alerts for those saved searches, and now you’ll get mention of everything anyone says about you on FriendFeed. I don’t miss a thing anyone says about me – try and mention my name somewhere and see!

By enabling users to manage their brand and conversation via e-mail, FriendFeed has just become the most manageable micro-blogging client and service on the internet. Now I get to treat my news like a newspaper – pick it up at my own leisure, “media-snack”, read what I like, and put it down. I don’t have to worry about missing anything, and most importantly, I don’t waste time needing to constantly check the site to see if someone has said something I need to know about.

So thus far I’ve managed my online identity through:

  1. Significantly reducing my Google Reader and RSS subscriptions by unsubscribing and “media snacking” on FriendFeed subscriptions
  2. Managing my Twitter brand through TweetBeep and my e-mail client
  3. Managing my FriendFeed brand through IM/E-mail notifications, BackType, and Gmail

My next installment of this series will be about how I subscribe to your blogs through Gmail.  Sure, I’ve talked about how I use Google Reader to manage the subscriptions I absolutely can’t miss, but what about the stuff that slips through the cracks?  I’ll show you how to use BackType, Google Alerts, and other tools to ensure this doesn’t happen.

30 thoughts on “Gmail is My FriendFeed Client

  1. First of, thank goodness people like you are out here to teach me stuff! and secondly I'm posted in your BLOG!!! You kick (_I_) @jesse!!! 🙂

  2. wow, great post Jesse. Really learned a few things here. And funny enough I stumbled over your post as I was playing around with filters over at Friendfeed. Definitely gonna get the email function for my ego-feed.

  3. Thanks, Jesse, for the excellent post; very useful tips on using Gmail to manage information overload. I gave up using Outlook a year ago and completely live on Gmail… And now, thanks to you, I'm finally on Backtype.

  4. I am finding even with my problems that many of us are still connecting our data streams to communication points (IM, email) outside of the web browser, I am using email for my Friendfeed groups, it is quite useful to be out and about on my iPhone and have messages come through on email, which I can take immediate action on, perhaps look at investigating the story or company for a blog post, so in that respect I think it is AMAZING!

  5. Petr, yes, I use that alongside Gmail, but for the most part just hitting
    the “reply” in TweetBeep and using Twitter's native UI suffices.

  6. Thanks for useful tips n looking forward to more tips about backtype.

    For gmail tip, i found it's not possible to reply or share what i want to twitter, right?
    For backtype, it seems saved search is to search all news, but no filter function like search only from friendfeed friends.

  7. I really like this approach! I'm a little worried about further increasing the amount of mail I receive, but could you show us what this looks like with some screenshots?

  8. Thanks for useful tips n looking forward to more tips about backtype.

    For gmail tip, i found it's not possible to reply or share what i want to twitter, right?
    For backtype, it seems saved search is to search all news, but no filter function like search only from friendfeed friends.

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