I’m an RSS feed junky. I currently have about 15 feeds in my Google reader which results in over a 100 stories a day during the week. Most of these I quickly scan for interesting news or flag them for reading at a later date. A lot of sites I read give me full feeds, which is greatly appreciated and results in more of their content being read. Others only leave a snippet of the full article and try to entice you to click to the full website.
Today TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington thanked the readers of TechCrunch for helping him hit 1 million RSS subscribers. That’s an awesome number to say the least, congratulations Michael, and I would like to give my thanks for both excellent content and of course, full RSS feeds.
Like most blogs, we continue to provide all of our content in full in the feed even though it means less visitors to the site and less page views. If someone takes the time to add us to their reader, I consider them to be among our most loyal readers even if they never actually visit our site.
This hits the nail on the head and other sites should take notice. Your RSS readers are your most loyal readers. I’m looking at you Ars Technica. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reading a feed on my way to work and not finished reading more than the opening paragraph because the feed was truncated. Yes, if the story is very compelling I visit the site, but I am far more likely to read it on one of my many other feeds that may be covering the same story. Why is it a pain for me to visit your site? Well, 3G is fast, but Smartphones are still not as fast as a real web browser, and the pain of leaving my reader, loading up a browser and then reloading my reader and finding my place just isn’t worth the time. I will just move on to the next feed.
Before anyone mentions why sites truncate their feeds, I know it’s all about page impressions and advertising, but Arrington really hit on the fact that these may be your most valuable readers. These are the hardcore readers that will say to their less tech savvy friends, “Hey you should check out TechCrunch, it’s a really cool tech site”. You can also sneak ads into your feeds, I’ve actually clicked a few myself, and you should also rest in knowing that a lot of feed readers will still visit your site. I probably visit my feed sites more than any other sites when I’m at a computer, especially when I want to comment. Often I will bookmark a feed in Google reader and visit the site later when I’m at a desktop to comment on it.
So before you start cutting off your feeds in hopes that more people will visit your site, remember who you are cutting off. These are not your casual readers, and we use RSS for a reason. There’s a lot of competition out there and we loyal readers may find our information elsewhere.