Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fill Up That Feed, Please

I've always found partial RSS feeds - the ones where you get a teaser of the beginning of an article, but not the full text - really annoying. I read all my feeds (blogs, news feeds, etc.) in Google Reader, and being forced to navigate elsewhere just annoys me. Most often, I scan the beginning and if it's not really captivating, that's the end of it. Maybe I'm missing some good stuff, but I decided that if the blogger or provider doesn't think it's worth putting in their feed, it's unlikely to be worth my time. It's a busy world. There are lots of other things I can be doing besides chasing down your content, folks.

At the same time, I understood the thinking behind partial feeds - get people to the main site so that they will see the ads and you can collect money.

So this item suggesting that full feeds lead to more page views is really interesting:

However, in our experience, full text feeds actually does lead to more page views, though understanding why is a little more involved. Full text feeds makes the reading process much easier. It means it's that much more likely that someone reads the full piece and actually understands what's being said -- which makes it much, much, much more likely that they'll then forward it on to someone else, or blog about it themselves, or post it to Digg or Reddit or Slashdot or Fark or any other such thing -- and that generates more traffic and interest and page views from new readers, who we hope subscribe to the RSS feed and become regular readers as well. The whole idea is that by making it easier and easier for anyone to read and fully grasp our content, the more likely they are to spread it via word of mouth, and that tends to lead to much greater adoption than by limiting what we give to our readers and begging them to come to our site if they want to read more than a sentence or two.

Imagine that - if you give people the content in a way that suits them, they're more likely to read it, share it, and talk about it. This Web 2.0 is tricky!

1 comment:

Mark Cahill said...

Mea culpa - I have always led customers to the summary option for their rss feeds. Granted some of them do have their content behind a subscription veil, and they do often write their rss summary as just that, a separate summary for rss, not just the first graph, etc.

I'm utterly surprised to hear this. Do they have real statistics to show this, or is it a "we feel" kind of thing? I'll gleefully push for full text in the future if there's a decent reason and they do seem to have one.