Twitter Followers vs. RSS Subscribers

By Daniel Scocco

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.

  1. Subscribe to my RSS feed
  2. Subscribe via Email
  3. 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.



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57 Responses to “Twitter Followers vs. RSS Subscribers”

  • BlogTipss

    Twitter is one of gretest sites to communicate with people and Twitter is awsome to get more targeted traffic to your site or blog.
    thanks for tip.

  • Eryaman hali yikama

    Good info thanks for sharing with us.Nice information, valuable and excellent, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need, thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here…

  • medyum

    I honestly got more followers than subscriber. And I think I am getting more traffic from twitter whenever I tweet my blog post or retweet my blog post. Also I not only get traffic from twitter but also friends

  • Jeff Newman

    Thanks for the link to woopra.com. I look forward to trying that out.

  • twituser

    So Twitter is awesome for Taking traffic to you website . It is very
    simple to setup and its a fun positive way to keep in contact with
    people. To get more followers on twitter check out this amazing
    tool.
    Twitter
    Traffic Machine

  • Twitter Loco

    Twitter is just another excellent tool to add to your internet arsenal.

    I love the site. and of course the rewards of using the site.

  • switch

    I never use a RSS,feed,it is not give the food for a children,or a dog,I can’t understand.I often write a english as i am a chinese.but I don’t know what’s the mean with the RSS.

  • Asep Saepul

    Tweets not usefull now for me but i’m sure it will usefull sometime next day, month or year.

    can you follow me on twitter, i will follow you back.
    here’s my twitter url :

    Asep Saepul
    https://twitter.com/Blood_Pressure

  • Green

    I agree with most of what Danny said here. From a personal standpoint I can see Twitter being useful but as of yet I haven’t found a ton of use on the business side.

  • Shane Hudson

    This is a very good post, my blog is just starting up and my old blog was before twitter had a big inpact on the comunity. So hopefully twitter will be good for my new blog.

  • Eyebee

    I don’t consider tweets a waste of time.

    Why not?

    Simply because I have my blogs set up to post a tweet automatically when I post an article. So, IF it is a waste of time, it was only so once, when I added the code.

    If it drives extra traffic it can’t hurt, if it doesn’t no harm done anyway.

    I wouldn’t manually tweet each post, but then again we don’t manually add each article to an RSS feed either do we?

  • Jessica

    Believe it or not, I still don’t use RSS feeds. I prefer the mailing list!

  • laptop

    i like this post. some good information.

  • Whibbly

    I agree, tweets are just waste of time. They’ll get you very less of traffic. We mostly get it from Twitter search rather than our followers.

  • SEO Tips Blog

    I have an application that automatically tweets my RSS feed everytime I publish a new blog post so the process is actually automated. It’s pretty cool. Also the communication and ability to direct message other Tweeters is really cool I’m totally sold on Twitter.

  • Danny Brown

    @ Craig Ernst – Not if it’s anything like TechCrunch who do nothing but throw out RSS feeds – where’s the benefit there for Twitter users? 😉

  • Craig Ernst

    @Wesley, The Geek Entrepreneur

    Funny thing is.. and I don’t think that anyone’s mentioned it here yet… you can actually set as RSS feed to pipe directly into a Twitter account.

    Some people do this with the various Twitter apps that automatically post your new blog post to Twitter.

    But a few others I’ve seen have a separate Twitter account dedicated to an RSS feed which just posts title links from their blog.

    I don’t think Twitter can really replace RSS feeds, but it’s possible Twitter could take advantage of the complimentary features.

    A Twitter-branded feed reader anyone?

  • Eyebee

    Sure, it’s nice to have people follow you. Most of us like to feel that at least some other people find us interesting enough to listen to us at least sometimes. This goes for life in general, not just online, or Twitter.

    Having said that, I just tweet what I want. I post interesting (to me) links, and I engage in daily small talk with others. I just use Twitter as another avenue of communication, and try to enjoy it as such, and do not try to manipulate it.

  • Danny Brown

    I’d go for blog RSS/subscribers over Twitter numbers every time.

    the problem with Twitter is that it can often be nothing more than a faux popularity contest. “I’m almost at 300, who will follow me to get me there?” type of questions. Who cares how many followers you have if it’s not for genuine reasons.

    Another reason I’d go for blog subscribers is that they’re making an investment in you and your time. When they read your latest post, they interact first by reading and secondly by commenting.

    Twitter doesn’t necessarily offer that option. While it’s true you can filter out the Tweets you want to see with numerous Twitter tools, not everyone uses them. This leads to your latest blog post announcement (or any other part of the conversation) getting lost in the noise.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some fantastic people on Twitter – I’ve also met some class A idiots. At least when people put commitment to your blog it’s because they genuinely want to hear what you have to say – something that’s not always true of Twitter.

  • Triguy31

    I agree with Eyebee. Its available, its free and it gives users access to your content. Where is the drawback?

    Rob
    @triguy31

  • Leila

    You can even use RSS on Twitter to track tweets! (Yeah I tested it out just to see, because of this post hehe).

    Hand in hand 🙂

  • Leila

    My sentiments exactly.

    Both are good to have of course…but Twitter is seriously taking leaps and bounds into the whole social side of SEO and its a great way to make those connections.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    The two way relationship is what is key. You can get someone to respond back to you almost instantly where the RSS doesn’t have that capability.

  • The Geek Entrepreneur

    I just started my blog at the beginning of this month (November), and the number of people who have subscribed to my RSS feed pales in comparison to my Twitter numbers. It’s almost a 3-to-1 ratio.

    I wrote a post about this on my blog, asking whether Twitter is perhaps becoming more popular than RSS. Personally, I think it is. I am more apt to follow someone on Twitter because of the reasons you listed in your post. I think it’s only a matter of time before Twitter takes the place of RSS.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  • Melvin

    They work hand in hand i think. Altogether twitter brings more traffic while rss works more w/consistency. Twitter is so nice that it can boost your online presence so fast…

  • Stephan Miller

    I follow most of the people who follow me on Twitter, so I don’t really see it as “following” but more as a group. I put in and I get out. I ask questions and they get answered. I find cool things and tweet about them and get thanked by followers. It is apples and oranges, but I do feel I know people on Twitter better than people who subscribe to my blog because there is more instantaneous interaction.

  • Kathy – Virtual Impax

    Not that it’s been said here, but there was an article on Wired not long ago where the author suggested you dump your blog and use Twitter. Um, my Twitter followers found me via my blog. I find most of the people I want to follow on Twitter via their blogs. The two are hopelessly intertwined.

    While I can see a blog thriving without Twitter- I really can’t see the reverse. You have to have a “home base”. 140 characters does not a conversation make!

Comments are closed.