Friendfeed v. Twitter: Half The Followers In Five Months

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Twitter is still far larger than its much younger competitor Friendfeed in aggregate terms. But an interesting trend is developing – many longtime Twitter users are noticing that the number of followers they have on Friendfeed is growing far more rapidly than on Twitter. And the conversations at Friendfeed are better, too.

I joined Twitter when it launched in mid 2006 (about 24 months ago), and have, as of today, 20,464 followers.

I joined Friendfeed on February 9, 2008 (about 5 months ago), and I now have 10,177 subscribers, nearly half Twitter count in less than 1/4 of the time.

Like many others, I’m also noticing that the discussions occurring on Friendfeed are more more interesting (and longer) than the equivalent conversations at Twitter. It’s often 2-to-1 on the number of comments. Which means that those Friendfeed users are far more engaged than those on Twitter.

And over the last couple of weeks, as Twitter has been forced to turn off some of the conversational features of the service, I’ve seen this difference increase dramatically.

There are a whole host of reasons – Twitter downtime plays a big part, but Friendfeed is also good at recommending people for you to follow, and the commenting or bookmarking a post is very easy. Twitter’s inability or unwillingness to open up the data pipes is also a factor.

Is this a bad trend for Twitter? Yes, particularly since they are still struggling with their architecture and stability, while Friendfeed sails on in seemingly calm waters.

If the early adopters move on, there’s a reason (they never abandoned YouTube for the shinier competitors that popped up over the years, for example), and it doesn’t bode well for Twitter in the long run.

By the way, that dip in traffic on Twitter, if real, and coincides with recent downtime issues. Twitter’s runway may be shorter than people think. Open source/open standard competitors certainly don’t help things, either.

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