Finding relevance with RSS
Twitter has undoubtedly changed my life. Like many of you it created an entirely new way for me to communicate, converse, and find great content but in turn it is also contributing to an “Attention Crisis”.
Those of us plugged into social media are having to learn new techniques to filter and discover what is important to us. The challenge is once again managing our signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).
The most important signal channel I have in my life is still RSS feeds.
Twitter didn’t replace RSS it improved it and as a publisher it’s crucial you understand how.
Twitter is a stream
I shared my stream mindset back in Feb 2009 and it’s become much more important over time because as I continue to grow my Twitter community my window into Twitter shrinks.
How this works (for me)
If I followed 40 or 50 active users I could see their tweets reaching back for a few days but by following hundreds I only see updates for the past couple of hours. When I log in at 8pm I have no idea what happened in my stream at 1pm.
Does this mean I don’t see everyone single one of your Tweets? Yes, and that’s okay with me. Twitter is a right now network. I jump in, I interact, and move on.
What this means to you?
I’m probably not going to see the tweet where you shared your last amazing blog post.
This is why RSS is so important. If I value your content then the way I continue to read your work is through RSS. It isn’t bound by a timeline and even if I don’t get to it for a week it is still waiting there for me.
You are competing for attention and it’s important to remember that although Social Media is powerful many people still rely on RSS & Email subscriptions to stay connected with your content.
I’m not alone
Many Twitter users have stated that Twitter has replaced their RSS feeds but I find that that the influencers in my network still rely heavily on reading RSS feeds.
I can’t speak for them but I can speak to what I see based on their usage.
- @ChrisBrogan follows 139,000+ people
- @Jesse follows 29,000+
- @LouisGray follows 1200+ (recently trimmed from 14,000+)
I know for a fact their streams and their lives are too busy to see every tweet so how do they keep track of what they find important?
RSS feeds & Google Reader
I know this because I see what they share and many times I see those shared posts linked to in their own articles.
These folks are in the tech/social media community and RSS usage is more prevalent than other audiences but as you grow your social network connections you should also understand how to consistently deliver your content to people and often those solutions are not solely Twitter and Facebook.
A final word on Reader
I live in a world no longer driven by content or popularity, the only thing that matters is relevance.
Google Reader is more than an RSS reader it is a social platform and this is where my social networks have enhanced my signal stream.
Where did I meet Chris, Jesse, Louis, Mahendra and many others? Twitter, Friendfeed, etc…
The connections I’ve made in other social networks have been extended to Google Reader and gives me insight into what they find useful.
I’m hesitant to share this tip because it is one of the biggest shortcuts to discovering relevant content: Find smart people whom you respect that use Google Reader, friend them and watch their shared items. This system is my human-filtered list of what is important. It is my diamond mine recommendation system.
More about the compliment of Google Reader & Social Networks
- Once I connect with people @ShannonPaul & @TacAnderson I’m able browse the backlogs of VeryOfficialBlog & NewCommBiz and learn from their excellent archive. I can’t do that with Twitter.
- Ironically, I even watch Scoble’s favorite tweets via RSS
Combating the “Attention Crisis” with Relevance
“More people are creating more content of more types and sharing it with more connections in more places than ever before”. – Louis Gray
This is the problem in social media and it is the catalyst for the next generation of Content Discovery & Relevance technologies that seek to answer, What is important to you.
For now, Google Reader & great folks are my answer.
For more interesting reading on relevance I suggest: