Your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest – it seems that the number of social media platforms that you have to pay attention to is only increasing. Worse, while you’re busy engaging your community on one site, the rules are suddenly changed somewhere else and the crazy dance starts again.
So the last thing you probably want is yet another thing to worry about – but you’re going to have to pay a little attention to that funny orange icon and your site’s RSS feed.
Your blog’s RSS feed is, simply put, a machine-readable form of your content. Every blogging platform produces at least one RSS feed for you. RSS is vitally important because people, systems and platforms can monitor (subscribe to) your RSS feed, and extract your content for redistribution to other sites on the Internet.
Your automated email subscriptions are built by reading your RSS feed. Your posts are auto-tweeted to your followers by services that read your RSS feed. Facebook posts – ditto. Your more technically advanced readers may be subscribing to your site’s RSS feed in services like Google Reader. And, from the seamy underside of online life, screen scrapers and hackers use your RSS feed to scrape your content.
The humble RSS feed, then, is the distribution channel – the glue – that binds your content to all these other services, channeling your posts out and, ultimately, enabling you to draw your audience back in, building community and revenue. It is, therefore, thecritical link in enabling a successful multi-platform content strategy.
Moreover, RSS statistics – the number of subscribers you have and the reach you can generate – are also important elements to your media kit. Without RSS statistics, you can’t give sponsors insight into your entire audience, which limits your revenue upside. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – and so RSS statistics are an essential component of building your business.
Which brings me to the “pay attention” part of this post. The industry’s leading provider of RSS statistics services is FeedBurner, a division of Google. Although there’s been no official word on FeedBurner’s future as a whole, the signs are ominous. FeedBurner’s Twitter account and blog have been shut down. FeedBurner.jp was abandoned. The FeedBurner API was shuttered last weekend. A multi-day metrics outage in late September scared the living daylights out of many, many people.
Most importantly, however, Google announced the AdSense for Feeds will stop serving ads on December 2nd. What this means is that after that date, Google earns exactly $0 from FeedBurner. What would you do with a bandwidth heavy site that earned you nothing? And what does this mean given all the other moves Google has made?
While FeedBurner continues to serve feeds, the question of how it fits into Google’s medium to long-term plans is obviously relevant. If, like me, you feel the answer is “not” then you need to start thinking about migrations now, if you haven’t already done so.
Phil Hollows is the Founder and CEO of FeedBlitz, the email and social media marketing automation service and premium FeedBurner alternative. Phil is also a regular partner and sponsor for SavvyBlogging.net and The Savvy Blogging Summit.