In a world of crazy and unstable web audience metrics (think Alexa) there are not many tools which publicly and honestly reflect the popularity and readership of site (unless one wants to open their web analytics or log files to the public).
Luckily, for those sites and blogs which use RSS as a form of content syndication and communications channel, measurement of the effectiveness of RSS is quite easy.
The most widespread form of RSS measurement is Feedburner FeedCount. For blogs which use Feedburner to track and distribute their feeds, FeedCount displays the number of subscribers who are reading the blog each day; or your blog’s RSS circulation.
For example, one can have 15,000 people subscribing to their blog feed, but only 50% actually read that feed on an ongoing basis, which would result in a Feedburner FeedCount of 7,500.
This FeedCount metric is similar to the ‘open rate’ of email marketing lists. The list may have 50,000 opt-in readers, but only a small percentage actually read the emails.
FeedCount As Social Proof
By motivating its userbase to publicize their RSS circulation, Feedburner’s FeedCount has become not only a respected measurement tool of blog readership but also a vehicle of proving the worth of one’s blog, via Social Proof.
Social Proof is when you utilize the actions of one group of people to influence other people into taking that specific action.
Using the Feedburner example, when visitors come to a blog and see that the blog has 10,000 or even 100,000 people reading the blog’s RSS feed, they are more likely to subscribe.
Why? Because the number gives readers a sense that if they are not subscribing, they are missing out on the information that 10,000 other users are getting… especially if that blog is a niche business oriented blog. Then, the reader would subscribe with the feeling that 10,000 competitors are exposed to useful information on a daily basis, that the reader is not.
Recently two influential lists of popular bogs were formed using FeedCount as its metric criteria. The first was a list of blogs with the most feed subscribers. The second, a list of search marketing blogs ranked by FeedCount was compiled by Lee Odden
I noticed that we were not on either list, because we did not publish our FeedCount circulation numbers. And yes, we did feel a bit left out, especially as the lists help to position FeedCount as a valued web metric.
Starting today, Search Engine Journal will be publishing our FeedCount here on the blog. According to Feedburner, yesterday 9,792 subscribers read our content via RSS subscription.
Tomorrow this should change substantially, since on Tuesday we only published 3 posts. Today we plan on publishing much more, and expect this number to jump above 10,000.
How do you feel about Feedburner’s FeedCount? Do you use it on your blog? And if so, do you believe it adds value?