Marketing your content

I have a friend with a background in marketing. He’s the one who sent me the Comcast complaining article. We’ve been talking about marketing and the internet. The two of us come from completely different perspectives on how we consume content online. I’ve just introduced him to Google Reader and the concept of subscribing to an RSS feed. He seems to be enjoying it, and even shared an article with other people on his GTalk buddy list. I complained to him that he shared a link to a NYTimes article that didn’t have the full text in the RSS feed. This is a pet peeve of mine – I read almost no websites that don’t offer full-text RSS feeds. Techdirt talks about how full-text feeds are better. Feedburner does, too. But doesn’t do it. Are they stupid? I don’t know. A little Googling suggests that there’s a lot of disagreement on whether or not a partial-text feed drives more traffic to the site. That is, if you have a feed that doesn’t show the full article, do more people actually click through and come to your site, where you probably have ads? Or do most people (Like me) just skip it? Techdirt makes the point that the real bulk of your traffic comes not from your regular feed subscribers, but from them sharing it with their friends or on their blogs. Things get passed around on the popular sites – when something hits the front page of Digg, it’s probably going to show up on a lot of other popular sites. That can generate way more traffic than you’d ever get from your subscribers themselves, even if they clickthrough on every RSS item. My friend says that NYTimes is not dumb, and they’ve probably researched where they make their money, and decided that partial feeds are the way to go. I’m less inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I realize that the way I consume content is not the way everyone does, and I’m probably in the minority. We may be a growing minority, but NYTimes doesn’t make its money on what people will be doing in 10 years. I will always provide a full-text feed. But I don’t make my living with this blog, so I have the luxury of doing what I want rather than what might drive more clicks. I can’t bring him around to my way of thinking, though. But I’m still working on it.

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