For bloggers and content marketers, choosing the right content syndication tools to distribute posts is critical to developing an audience. The author/marketer must balance four attributes: distribution, measurement, retention and brand.
Table 1: Balancing Syndication Tools Attributes
|RSS||Poor: only one subscriber||Poor: volatile metrics||Good but declining||So so: controlled by RSS reader|
|Poor: only one subscriber, double-opt in||Poor: limited engagement stats||Poor: Low unsubscribe rates; GMail filtering decreases visibliity||Good: total control over UI|
|Content Hubs||Great: siphon site traffic, new readers||Good: proprietary tools or GA||Poor: often lacking follow or subscribe mechanisms||Poor: limited control over UI|
|Social Media||Volatile: dependent on the audience but huge upside potential||Great: use traditional web analytics plus follower data plus retweet||So so: follower model creates 2 way relationship; no way to assure delivery||Good: customize profile + traffic goes to website|
RSS’s end is nigh. Google shuttered Reader. Feedburner’s subscriber metrics of this blog swing by 50% or more. Plus the relationship between author and reader is one way (push).
The email newsletter, currently in vogue, faces its own challenges. First, the new Google tabbed inbox relegates emailed posts to the tertiary Updates bucket. Second, email limits discoverability of other content on a site. Last, email curtails community participation and has its own measurement limitations created by pixel tracking.
Content Hubs (Quora, Medium, Svbtle) generate huge amounts of traffic which can be siphoned, but retention of those users can be challenging because often follower models are missing or the culture of the sites tend to be episodic and content driven rather than individual or personality driven. I prefer writing here because Svbtle champions individuals and provides follower tools via Twitter.
Social media (Facebook, Twitter) can drive huge amounts of traffic and create mechanisms for bidirectional communication but the acceptable content lengths are much shorter either because of hard constraints or cultural norms. Social media must be pared with a blogging platform of some kind.
I’ve chosen to combine writing on a content hub (Svbtle) with social media distribution (Twitter, Quibb, Hacker News) because I think their strengths complement each other.
About 1500 subscribe to this blog by RSS, but I think that number will dwindle with time. Another few hundred subscribe by email. Unfortunately, because of the poor measurement systems in place, it’s difficult to understand how to better serve the needs of those users. It’s much easier to gauge the reaction to content on social media than anywhere else.
Every business will want to create a different type of relationship with its users and build its brand in a way true to their core values. Understanding the pros and cons of different syndication channels is key to that content marketing strategy.