I read a great article by John Doherty about the shift from RSS to social media and what it means to marketers. The first thing that came to mind was, am I getting old? I have this fear that at some point I will no longer stay up on the most recent tech and marketing trends and end up being the guy in the office that doesn’t get it. RSS is that one old technology that I am holding onto. I don’t know what I would do without Google Reader.
John’s research and conclusions are pretty solid. A bunch of data from sources like Compete, BuildWith and iCrossing. The one point that didn’t really resonate was the iCrossing graphic.
Visiting a website directly? That is what we did before we had RSS to consolidate it all in one, easy to manage location. I do agree with John that users are starting to follow individuals or entities. I have started to use twitter to follow individual that I enjoy reading. Facebook is still a bit of a cluster for content sorting and I use it more for personal use where twitter is (more) professionally targeted.
John also post data showing the decline in traffic from RSS feeds and the reduced CTR. I completely agree with this and it is a challenge. You want to pull people from RSS readers to your site which you can do with the “continue reading” link, but I hate only getting a snippet of the article. If the article is good there is a solid chance I am clicking over to your site, but I may be unique in that regard.
John ultimately ends with the question “Are we moving away from being loyal to sites and instead becoming loyal to individuals and brands, even outside of their websites?” I have to say yes, people are moving toward personal brands. I am yet to find a good solution to replace RSS. The closest I can find is Twitter, but unlike RSS, the content does not get drowned out in 1,000 new tweets in a day. The RSS entries are there till I mark it as read (micro-managing?).
The comments to the original post were mixed. Some have moved on and others are still avid RSS users. I do believe RSS will die off as the current “younger” generation are not using RSS like we did in college and in our early professional lives. It is time to find the next content, or even social, aggregator that can pull specific individuals and brands regardless where they post. Perhaps a RSS for authors (or brands), that collects where they post public content, whether it be on twitter, facebook, google+ or multiple blog and online magazines. Flipboard and other social magazines are on that path but you still can’t consolidate all the content avenues for individuals. The space is young and I look forward to watching how it plays out.