Daniel’s note: This is a guest post by Nathan Rice. My personal opinions are slightly different from his when it comes to Twitter followers vs. RSS subscribers (because I think the latter are more important for a blogger or web publisher), but I am always open to different perspectives and points of view. I am also curious to know which one you guys value more, so make sure to drop a comment after you read the article.
You may be aware that Twitter is the newest phenomenon in the blogoshpere. Big name bloggers have been jumping on the Twitter bandwagon for months, and many have effectively leveraged the micro-blogging service to increase readership, while at the same time using it to develop new relationships. The great thing about Twitter is that is helps you develop that two-way relationship that RSS lacks.
Having that Feedburner chicklet increase by a few hundred readers definitely feels good. The more subscribers you have, the more influence you have as a blogger. But I would assert that a new Twitter follower is far more valuable than a new RSS subscriber. Here’s why:
1. Twitter followers see your broadcasts
Although some people will tell you that using Twitter as a broadcasting service is wrong, but I disagree. Many people PREFER their friends let them know of a new blog post via Twitter. I may not always have my feed reader open, but I keep Twitterific in the corner of my monitor all day. When someone announces a new blog post on Twitter, I will very often click and read it.
2. Twitter followers can become your friends
The thing that Twitter offers that an RSS reader can’t is the ability to respond. Sure, there is always the comment section, but you’re far more likely to get a response from a blog author on Twitter than in their comments. Twitter is conversational, and thus Twitter users like to use the tool to converse.
3. Twitter friends can become your fans
Friendship means trust, and people who trust you are far more likely to become fans. Ultimately, fans are what you want.
The way a blogger gets to be influential, and thus make money, is by figuring out a way to get people to use their influence (no matter how small) to promote you. People who like you enough to do this are valuable, and Twitter is the perfect tool to cultivate these fans.
4. Twitter followers are usually testing you
I give my blog readers three options when they visit my blog.
- Subscribe to my RSS feed
- Subscribe via Email
- Follow me on Twitter
The reason I added that third option is because I suspected many people were coming to my blog, enjoying my content, but couldn’t justify adding another blog to their list of daily reads. For these people, I needed to give them an option that let them gradually get to know me. If they enjoyed conversing with me, or reading my tweets, then they are likely to click a “New Blog Post” broadcast when I tweet them, as well.
And since I use Woopra Analytics, I am able to watch the instant results of tweeting a new blog post to these followers. It’s amazing to see the “Live” number shoot up instantaneously.
5. Twitter followers can become RSS subscribers too
During the time since I added the third “Follow me on Twitter” option, I’ve seen my RSS subscriber numbers almost double. I certainly can’t give credit to Twitter for all of them (I worked my tail off in October to increase subscribers), I can say that I do believe Twitter helped tremendously as a part of my overall subscription and traffic increase strategy.
In the cases where Twitter followers and RSS subscribers overlap, consider yourself lucky. You’ve just made a new friend, and a new subscriber.
Nathan Rice (@nathanrice on twitter) is a front-end web developer for iThemes.com, and blogs about everything WordPress at his blog, NathanRice.net. He is also the founder of ElevateThemes.com where he releases premium-quality WordPress themes for free under the GPL.