Daniel’s Note: This is a guest post by Nathan Rice. My personal opinion differs slightly from theirs when it comes to Twitter followers vs RSS subscribers (as I think the latter is more important for a blogger or web publisher), but I’m always open to different perspectives and approaches. I am open I’m also curious to know which one you guys value more, so be sure to leave a comment after reading the article.
You probably know that Twitter is the newest phenomenon in the blogging world. Big-name bloggers have been jumping on the Twitter bandwagon for months, and many have effectively leveraged the micro-blogging service to grow readership, while at the same time using it to develop new relationships. The great thing about Twitter is that it helps you develop that two-way relationship that RSS doesn’t.
Growing up to a few hundred readers of that Feedburner chiclet sure 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 watch your broadcasts
While some people will tell you that using Twitter as a broadcasting service is wrong, I disagree. Many people like to have their friends tell them about a new blog post via Twitter. I may not always have my feed reader open, but I keep Twitter in the corner of my monitor all day long. When someone announces a new blog post on Twitter, I often click through to read it.
2. Twitter followers can become your friends
What Twitter offers is the ability to respond that an RSS reader cannot. Sure, there’s always the comments section, but you’re likely to get more responses from a blog writer on Twitter than from their comments. Twitter is conversational, and thus Twitter users love using the tool to interact.
3. Twitter friends can become your fans
Friendship means trust, and people who trust you are more likely to become fans. After all, fans are what you want.
The way a blogger becomes influential, and thus makes money, is by getting people to use their influence (no matter how small) to promote you. People who like you enough to do so are valuable, and Twitter is the perfect tool for cultivating these fans.
4. Twitter followers are usually testing you
I give three options to my blog readers when they come to my blog.
- subscribe to my rss feed
- subscribe by email
- Follow me on Twitter
I added that third option because I suspected that many people were coming to my blog, enjoying my content, but could not justify adding another blog to their daily reading list. For these people, I had to give them a choice so that they could slowly get to know Me. If they enjoyed chatting with me or reading my Tweets, they can also click on the “New Blog Post” broadcast when I Tweet them.
And since I use Woopra Analytics, I’m able to see the results of tweeting a new blog post to these followers immediately. It’s amazing to see a “live” number being shot so quickly.
5. Twitter Followers Can Become RSS Subscribers
I’ve almost doubled my RSS subscribers since I added the third “Follow me on Twitter” option. I certainly can’t credit Twitter for all of that (I did my best in October to increase subscribers), I can say that I do believe Twitter played a vital role in my overall membership and traffic growth strategy. Helped a lot as a part.
In cases where Twitter followers and RSS subscribers overlap, consider yourself lucky. You just made a new friend and a new client.
Nathan Rice (@nathanrice on Twitter) is a front-end web developer for iThemes.com, and blogs about all things 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.