Is Social Networking replacing RSS feeds and email subscriptions?

Earlier today, as I scoured my Twitter stream, and my Facebook news stream, I realized that I’ve pretty much given up on getting updates from my favorite sites any other way. I rarely, if ever, use RSS feeds to get notices of new blog posts… nor do I check my email for newsletter announcements of new posts.

Why should I bother, when I find these things being posted in neatly condensed versions within my social networks? I stay “plugged in” to the WordPress news and general Internet happenings through HootSuite. One of the tabs in my browser houses all of my Twitter and Facebook accounts, including those that I monitor for clients. To me, it’s a matter of convenience, having all the “new blog post” notifications hit my news streams instead of having to go look for them in an RSS feed, or an email.

Keep this in mind when building your site

If you’re not currently using Twitter or Facebook to promote your web site, this new trend is something you may want to consider. Looking to increase your site’s exposure? Set up your WordPress site to automatically post to Twitter every time you publish a new post using a plug-in like Twitter Tools, or set up your Facebook profile with an RSS feed to your blog, so that it automatically posts to your friend’s newsfeeds.

I’m not saying that RSS feeds and email notifications (including newsletters) aren’t worth maintaining… I’m suggesting that they are not the only options that your readers are looking for. Take advantage of the methods available to you through the social networking sites to increase your exposure.

Make it easy for web site visitors to find your Social Network profiles

When I happen upon a new blog, or web site that I would like to see updates from, the first thing I look for is a “Follow me on Twitter” button, or a Facebook “badge” of some sort, like the one in my sidebar. I choose to display the feeds from both networks, so people can see the kind of posting I do. In both cases, Twitter and Facebook, adding yourself to my feeds is made one click easy due to “more updates” and “Like this” links included in the displays in my sidebar.

Today’s surfer is likely to look for Twitter and/or Facebook buttons, so make sure to place them in an easy to find spot. I display buttons linked to my Twitter and Facebook home pages, as well as feed displays for both sites in my sidebar.

Will Social Networking replace RSS feeds and Email subscriptions?

I doubt that social networking feeds will completely replace RSS feeds and email subscriptions, for one simple reason… they are not controlled by the web site owner. I advise clients to never rely on a third party site too heavily, as there is no gaurantee that they’ll be around tomorrow, next week, or next year. You own your site’s RSS feed, and can customize it as needed. Newsletters allow you to publish information to your mailing list that you may not want to publish on the ever public web site (special offers, coupons, etc.).

So, while I truly believe that RSS feeds and Email Newsletters won’t completely fade away, I also believe that ignoring the visitors that prefer to get updates on their social network of choice could be detrimental to your marketing plan. It takes some effort to set up, but it’s well worth the extra exposure.

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