Partial RSS Feeds and why they make sense- The Skimming and Skipping phenomenon
Have been allowing access to full RSS feeds to ChasingTheStorm posts. However, just shifted to partial feeds. And not without reason. Not because of the reasons that are commonly known to abet listing partial feeds.
I just had an article published on iMediaconnection this week and sharing the unedited version here.
There has been a lot of talk on the web on why you should allow Full Feed access to your content.
Being a voracious consumer of content myself- especially from Blogs, I subscribe to hundreds of feeds, consuming a variety of content quickly through a single interface- my feed reader. I refer to this phenomenon as “skimming and skipping”- and you will know in a moment why it has nothing to do with milk or ropes.
However, I realize many a times- I do like reading something off the actual environment of the blog.
Many of the feeds you as an audience subscribe to are ‘full’ feeds (allowing complete content access without visiting the site), and many others- only partial. Teasers with a summary of content- enticing you to click on the story leading you to the main site. No matter how wonderfully tacky that sounded, it has its merits. And it is not to do with being more attractive to advertisers.
And more than that, there are myriad other reasons why I would advocate considering the use of partial feeds than full feeds- and take a U turn from what many evangelists advocate.
My reasons in favor of partial feeds:
1. Less engagement with on-site elements: In my case, the blogzine- ChasingTheStorm.com has multiple ways to engage- on the site itself.
o Audience can get access to “related posts” and many other ways to interact with the content by means of plug-ins. Those cannot be utilized at the feed reader stage
o The sidebars on-site have interesting videos and slideshare documents embedded through widgets. Audience don’t get to use them if consuming content from a reader
o Large volume of content usage through readers implies that the time you spent sourcing all that cool multimedia content (on sidebar widgets) is a waste. This also implies you have fewer insights into what kind of content are audience spending more time on
2. Shitloads of time analyzing: I use Feedburner for burning feeds and analyzing feed related data. Though it has interesting stats dashboards, it adds an extra layer of evaluation over and above my existing on-site blog insights tool (Google Analytics). Though I live and love these things, it takes shitloads of time to marry data and come up with a meaningful insight.
3. Limited Content Insights: Again, many feed pimping tools give stats on ‘views’ and the ‘clickthroughs’ ( I’m talking ‘post centric’ stats) these are good but not without issues
o Because you publish full feeds, audience skims and skips through content. There is no inclination to take any action- leading to lesser clickthroughs-less site visits mean less meaningful/deep insights. Simple.
o Lack of deeper stats leaves the data with limited insights. Time spent, bounce rates, content drilldown and navigation summary data are important to content publishers (yes I said ‘Bounce rates’- ask me why they might be valuable even for a blog)
o Many people use Google reader as feed reader. And if you use Google Anlaytics, you will probably know that clicks from Google reader are listed under Google.com/referral. Ditto from other Google properties (except search)- complicating referral analysis further
4. Sharing: Audience’s ability to forward or share content from a reader is rather limited. Even though many readers now allow this as an optional facility- they are not used often- because of the mindset of consuming maximum content in the least time. Skimming and Skipping.
5. Comment Engagement: Many feed readers do not automatically have a commenting facility from within the reader- also the sheer environment where you are ‘skimming and skipping’ through content is a barrier to commenting
6. Social Proof: I don’t burn my comments- which means there is lesser ‘Social Proof’ for people to comment. Often people see other comments and get motivated to comment.
So now you know. It is not the advertising- as is the case made out to be. It is not driving traffic to the site so I could get advertising dollars.The reasons are not ‘inside out (helping the blogger and sacrificing readers interests) but actually- it helps the readers
Partial feeds elicit better interaction with the blog, give access to a better environment, audience get a better feel of the blogger personality and it just drives an overall more fulfilling experience.
Do you burn full feeds or partial?