Saturday, August 28, 2010

If an RSS feed falls in the forest

Barton Creek is flowing
Image by shainelee via Flickr

If an RSS feed falls in the forest of millions of websites, and nobody mentions it, does it mean nobody noticed?

This is a bit of a late post, insofar as Internet speed is concerned. It's so last week. Well known tech guy, Leo Laporte, had a bit of a meltdown after realizing that his Google Buzz had not been updating ( his twitter with his latest posts.

This caused Leo to question whether his social media presence is all in vain; because nobody noticed or mentioned it to him.

This, in turn, has caused others to question how valuable social media is in terms of reaching audiences.

Just to give you some perspective, Leo Laporte is a one-man media machine. He does the following:

  • Live broadcast radio show The Tech Guy (

  • Podcasts: This Week in Tech, iPad Today, This Week in Google, Windows Weekly, MacBreak Weekly, Security Now, net@night, Daily Giz Wiz, Munchcast

  • Blogs at

  • Live video streaming.

Leo is on every imaginable social media website. All of them carry his content to his audiences. His blog alone has more than 223,000 subscribers. Many of those subscribers also subscribe to him through other services like Twitter, Facebook, Jaiku,, Youtube,, and you get the idea. The point is, for his fans, Leo is available everywhere they turn.

If one of his channels drops off the map, it doesn't mean that nobody cared. In his case, it means that his other means of reaching out picked up the slack.

Leo Laporte is EVERYWHERE. His thousands of fans don't need Twitter updates to know about his latest broadcasts. We subscribe directly to his feeds.

Now, for somebody who is just starting out in social media, and relying entirely on Facebook or Twitter to reach their audience, it may seem like, "if nobody noticed Leo Laporte's content wasn't posting, nobody will notice mine."

You are right, but not the way you think.

If you are just starting out, firstly, you haven't an audience to notice such a thing. If you are starting off without an audience, you can't have negative subscribers, fortunately.

Secondly, once you do have an audience, they'll know where to find you. You do have a website, right? If you don't have a website and rely entirely on outside social media to interact with your audience, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Don't let Leo's experience make you think nobody is listening. One thing I learned early on is that there are a large number of people who consume your content; but don't interact. You could go for months and years without having known they were there, except in your website stats; but they like your work.

A vast majority of people will not interact with you. One thing that many of the big names in social media do is post their mobile numbers on their websites. They will tell you that they hardly get phone calls from their audiences. I've experimented with that as well, putting my phone number as my website subtitle. I've had two calls in 3 years, of which I'm aware. Most people are happy to remain anonymous.

I see my web stats. I have an audience. But most prefer consumption to interaction. Leo has a larger audience; but if you scale my stats up, you might see that a majority of Leo's audiences consume more than they interact too.

There are plenty of cases with hard data to show that people are listening on social media. But, you can't expect your audience to do your job of monitoring your content distribution for you. For all they know, a dropped channel was intentional. They won't take the time to notify you of something you may have done on purpose.

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