The acquisition of friendfeed by facebook was more than the latest battle in the war for social networking supremacy. It was a timeless lesson in creating desire. The strategic positioning of friendfeed made their brand more than desirable. It was irresistable. Here’s a few reasons why and how they did it:
KNOW WHO YOUR BOSS IS: While facebook and twitter vied for supremacy, friendfeed recognized that neither was in control. The user was. And that user didn’t want to be told what to do. So they spread their bets like a veteran gambler confident that eventually the house has to pay.
DON’T DRESS UP: While facebook and twitter boasted increasingly refined and distinct brand identities, friendfeed remained disarmingly crude. The effect, conscious or not, was to reassure people that their brand was all about their users rather than themselves.
SOMETIMES NO CHOICE IS THE RIGHT ONE: While facebook and twitter duked it out, friendfeed accomodated them both. In doing so, they put the user by first by not forcing a choice upon them. In a nascent market, the customer is always right even when they can’t decide.
FORCE A HAND: At the same time that friendfeed let consumers avoid a choice, they forced one on facebook and twitter if they wanted to re-claim their re-located DNA. They simply kept building an island in the middle of two oceans until the highest bidder stuck a flag in it.
TIP THE DEBATE: Obviously the issue on everyone’s fingertips is which service will go mainstream first. By serving as an aggregator friendfeed appealed to everyone. And its those people that are driving which service goes mainstream.
AVOID EXTINCTION: As an aggregator they built in the capacity to accomodate whatever direction consumer interest shifted. Inevitably, those using social networks will shift their loyalties as existing networks lose their luster and new ones appear. Either way, friendfeed positioned themselves as a safe bet. By being infinitely accommodating and scaleable, they ensured their survival and maintained their perceived value no matter what direction the market went.
BE CHUM IN THE WATER: When things are moving so fast and the future is so hard to discern, its sometimes better to be the fork in the road rather than the new direction. friendfeed positioned themselves as prime real estate in the space where the two titans collided almost guaranteeing their value in the marketplace.
While the war will continue yesterday belongs to facebook. Despite protests from friendfeed users, facebook acquired the veteran friendfeed staff, its real-time technical expertise and the perception of having the upper hand. Can a response from twitter be far away?
Mark Zuckerberg and FriendFeed Co-Founders (with 50 million reasons to celebrate) Photo: Courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg on his facebook account.
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Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.