There was a quick exchange about nonprofit blog traffic the other day and someone mentioned that building traffic takes time, "particularly from RSS subscribers who must be convinced that the blog is worth investing the time to read and therefore subscribe."
I challenge that notion applies to all folks who use RSS readers,
but I don't have any firm research to stand on. I'm not so sure of all
RSS readers are so rigid in their subscribe behavior because I
notice quite a bit of "churn" in my own RSS sub stats - yet I retain a loyal readership!
I get the feeling that a segment of RSS readers subscribe and unsubscribe to blogs as often as they change their socks. It's not that their are promiscuous It's part of their normal behavior. I think the act of subscription may be a little more impulsive versus thoughtful. Or maybe some people subscribe and then if they discover that the blog sucks, they unsubscribe.
I wonder how patterns of behavior differ based on learning styles, Myers Briggs Profile, demographics or technical skill?
Reminds me again that there is a lot we don't know about RSS reader habits. A while back, I was obsessing about this and read through this report: Pew Internet and American Life Project Report titled "Bloggers: The Internet's Storytellers" from July, 2006. Didn't find much, although there was a footnote to another source for data, a 192-page master's thesis on bloggers and their audiences by Amanda Lenhart. (A pdf version can be found here.) In fact, I emailed Amanda Lenhart who now works at the Pew to query re: RSS readership habits. Here's what she told me:
There's very little good research out there about the impact of RSS readers and the number of readers who engage with blogs in that way -- its actually a major problem for all types of websites offering RSS feed--there's a big mystery as to how many readers those feeds actually represent, as well as the "quality" of those readers -- are they just skimming? Cherrypicking certain posts/feeds? or do they click through?
So, here's another poll designed to learn about RSS subscription behavior. Are you promiscuous with your RSS subscriptions? How much do you think about whether or not you'll read a blog before you subscribe? Do you take a leap of faith and figure, well if that one brilliant post that caught my eye was rare .. I can always unsubscribe. Do you subscribe to blogs for life or change often?
My RSS subscriptions are always fluid. I review, change, add, delete, etc. I do have a few that I must read, but not all. I also don't care whether I haven't read all of them all the time either.