You must be familiar with the orange RSS feed logo that appears on blogs and websites. RSS feeds are a wonderful way for users to keep up to date with your latest blog posts, for you to keep up to date with your favourite blogs and when added to tools such as Hootsuite or Twitterfeed they will auto-update your social networks each time you add new content.
For me RSS feeds are an essential part of my social media schedule. I subscribe to my favourite blogs and scour Google Reader (a tool that brings all my feeds into one place) every morning for stories that interest me and may interest my readers. Using feeds this way for content discovery is also something I teach as part of any social media strategy. I would be lost without them.
I was surprised to hear this week that the latest Apple OS update (Lion) had removed RSS from both the Safari browser and it’s Mail application. I was also dismayed to hear that someone had been given the advice to not display their RSS feed prominently on their blog. The reason being that people would be forced to visit your site to consume their content rather than reading it off site.
This seems like bad logic to me. If you write a blog and I stumble on it, and if I find your content interesting I’m likely to want to subscribe. There’s nothing worse that searching the site looking for the feed link, sometimes I give up, sometimes I try adding /feed after the web address to see if I can identify it this way. If you make it easy for me to subscribe you can be sure I’ll be visiting your website again.
In your blog settings you can choose how your content is displayed on RSS readers. Compact shows you just the first paragraph of text, it gives you a taster of what is to come but forces you to click through to the main website to read more. You can also display the full text of your blog, readers can then consume the entire post on their reader app. Both of these have advantages and disadvantages.
Advantage – People have to visit your website to read on, once there you can entice them to buy, read more, get in touch.
Disadvantage – if your first few lines aren’t compelling enough your reader may not click through. I know that I have to be really impressed by an opening to be encouraged to open another tab on my browser to read your stuff.
Advantage – Readers can skim or read your entire post without leaving their RSS reader app, this offers a better user experience.
Disadvantage – If the full text is available readers have no reason to click through to your site. If distributing the full text via RSS be sure to include a strong call to action either in the text or as a footnote.
Is your RSS feed easy to find on your Blog? Is it something you’d like to promote more? Leave your comments below.