Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why your subscribers might not love you so much

I've had my head buried in RSS feeds for the past two days because I've been developing a proposal to create an RSS strategy for one of our clients. So excuse me of this is a little arcane for my small, but high calibur audience:

I've often heard it said that RSS subscribers are your most loyal readers. Not only is this something I've heard from bloggers, but it's an assertion that is almost taken as a given in current RSS marketing analysis.

On it's face, it seems logical - a magazine subscriber is almost always a more loyal reader than someone who just picks the magazine up at the newsstand. Also, there's an element of ownership that comes with subscribing to content.

But I question this assumption when it comes to RSS, mostly because it's not how I operate.

If I want to check out your blog, I subscribe and keep you in my feed reader for about a week. If I like what you have to say, I keep you in there. And if your headlines and descriptions make me want to hear more from you, I click on the link and visit your site.

So the sites I visit are actually the ones I am most loyal to.

I've blogged before about how I'm not a browser - one of the reasons I love RSS. But I think there's a logical argument to be made that RSS is actually a better way to test out a blog regardless of how you like to consume your content.

Reading a post is not the best way to understand the value of a blog. You can't pick up a blog and flip through it. he blogger's style, perspective, posting frequency, originality and variety of subject matter are part of what that blog is, and the only way to get a sense of those things is to sample the blog over a period of time.

As feed metrics evolve, we need to be pretty vigilant about making sure that the assumptions made on paper jive with what we're seeing in the real world - it works out better for all of us in the long run. I don't think my anecdotal evidence or the logic behind it disproves anything. It just means I question that assumption, and wil continue to question it until legitimate evidence convinces me otherwise.


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