Several people wonder if realtime feeds is something they need, since they have regular RSS and Atom feeds.
The web now is organized in such a way that every service or person needs to go fetch any information, or have to “accidentally” find it again. No matter how great your content is, you’ll have to wait for visitors to come, and once they’re gone, you have very little way of telling them about new content.
I was surprised to find out last week, during the S2S diner in Palo Alto that the biggest email sender were social networks (except for spammers, obviously). They send you an email for a LOT of things : a new friend request, somebody tagged you, somebody mentioned you… etc. This is their way of pulling you back to the site.
When you look around, the sites which generate the more engagement are the sites who send the best emails, because email alerts is almost the only product that can get you back to a site regularly.
Unfortunately not all services can rely on email. As much as giving personal information (like your email) to a social network is ok, it doesn’t make sense to subscribe to any mailing list out there. Also, when a social network sends an email, it’s always accurate and personalized! If I subscribe to the NYT’s mailing lists, there is actually little chances that the emails I am going to get will be relevant.
This situation is also giving a huge importance to search engines. If you have no way of reclaiming your visitors, you want to always be in their way when they search for content. Yet, there is no guarantee that your rankings in Google or Bing will stay identical forever. On top of that search engines are not the best way to work on your branding: from a google search result page, can you tell the different between a NYT article and a page from somebody that can’t really be trusted? No.
The realtime web is synonymous with pushed web. I even said it in the past : the time factor doesn’t matter much. What truly matters is that the information is pushed, that it will eventually reach services/people away even if they do not come to check it out.
In the process, when a publisher pushes its content, he is the “initiator”, he is active. When a publishers waits for others to come check its content, he is passive and relies on the capacity (and willing!) of others to come by themselves.
Becoming a realtime publisher means being in control, rather than relying on others.
Eventually, when your service will build its traffic, both approaches will exist :
- Passive: you update your content and leave it as is, ready for people to randomly find it (through search engines, link sharing… etc)
- Active : you push it to subscribing application : feed readers, content aggregators, feed to email gateways, feed to SMS gateways, realtime search engines… etc
By building hubs, we make it very easy for any publisher to publish in realtime. You need one, get one now!