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Twitter Vs. RSS Feed Reader – The Smackdown

“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” James Chartrand

James from MenwithPens summed Twitter really good. It’s a service that allows users to stay connected with current friends and get connected to more like minded people. As we know, Twitter has picked up the pace in many facets when it comes to our online life. Bloggers have made a gradual move towards microblogging and some people have eliminated their RSS feed readers completely, and embraced Twitter as their new link generator to keep up with current news and posts.

If you have read my previous article on Twitter, you know that I am a ” Twitteroholic”. I love it. But just cause something is so powerful and so widely spread doesn’t mean it can take over everything. And the same goes true when it comes to Twitter replacing RSS feed readers as well. Some people have ruled out the use of feed readers to keep track of their favorite blogs and some still can’t seem to find a way to how Twitter can replace feed readers. In this post let’s analyze some Pros and Cons side by side on using Twitter as a feed reader.

Twitter RSS Feed Readers
1. Twitter allows you to share links between your contacts. Your contacts are most probably like minded so the links shared might be something you might enjoy as well. And of course there is certainly the social networking aspect to it. 1. Feed Readers gives you the capability to subscribe and add what you like. There is no networking aspect to it. Think of it as a link vault that only you have access to.
2. Links on Twitter are thrown at you. There is no way to organize links that are “tweeted.”And to keep track of every link sent by your contacts, you probably would have to be on Twitter 24/7 which certainly isn’t possible. 2. Links are organized. It’s your vault, your safe. You can organize links the way you please. You can be away from the computer for days and still open your feed reader and find what’s new and what hasn’t been read yet. It is lot more organized and lot more systematic and each person can use it to their desire or taste when it comes to link organization.
3. When it comes to Twitter you can catch links as soon as the post is released. Most bloggers send out their links as soon as the post is published. If you are someone who likes to keep on top of information as soon as they are out, Twitter certainly is a godsend gift. 3. This certainly isn’t the case when it comes to feed readers. Most of the times feeds are updated couple hours later after the post is published. For someone who likes to stay on top of their information hunger, this might not be ideal.
4. Twitter eliminates the hassle of organizing and managing feeds. There is nothing to manage. A simple click and you are driven to the source of information via the link that is sent to your Twitter stream. 4. With feed readers you have to manage your feeds. It’s time consuming when you have to go through feeds and mark them as read or unread and so on
5. Twitter is a social feed reader. It allows you to interact with like minded people and share links that might be of benefit for both – the sender and    the receiver. 5. There is nothing social about a feed reader. It’s only you and no body else managing and using it, unless you give someone else to your feed reader. But again, it still doesn’t fulfill the social aspect.
6. Using Twitter frequently gives you access to breaking news as soon as it happens. There is an immediacy when it comes to urgency with Twitter. 6. Using Twitter frequently gives you access to breaking news as soon as it happens. There is an immediacy when it comes to urgency with Twitter.
7. Twitter certainly has consistency and uptime issues. Lately we can find Twitter down at least 1-3 hours each day between different times. This certainly is a drawback if you are using it at that point in time to get information and news. 7. Most feed readers have been around for a while and there hasn’t been much issues in terms of consistency or uptime. You can log into your account anytime and it would be safe to say that you will be able to catch up on the news and information that you are craving.
8. Twitter has become a marketing tool and this certainly allows room for spam. YOU WILL be bombarded with links that might be of no use to you at all. The title or the tweet itself might make you click on the link and direct you to something that might be totally useless. 8. Feed readers isn’t a marketing tool. The feeds in your feed reader are the one’s that you subscribed to. There are no spams or useless feeds to worry about. It’s your choice, your call.
9. A link in twitter will take you directly to the the site. I personally prefer looking at a site than a feed because of the images, the design and all that fancy stuff. It’s very appealing to read something on a site rather than reading it through feeds. 9. Feed readers, well they are plain ugly, imho. I find it very unappealing. This might be a guy thing but I am a visual being and what appeals to my eyes, appeals to my brain. This might just be a personal thing but I prefer Twitter over feed reader simply because it takes me directly to the site rather than a feed.
10. With Twitter you can send feedbacks immediately to the link sender. Share your views and opinion and become a part of the message itself. It allows everyone to join and collectively voice on something as a group. 10. This certainly isn’t possible with feed readers.

I had sent out a “ tweet “ on Twitter asking “Can Twitter Replace RSS Feed reader?“

Here are some answers from some Twitter die hard fans:

“I don’t believe that Twitter can replace an RSS reader.” – Thomas, TwisterMc

“Someday, maybe. I still use my feed reader, mainly because there are lots of blogs in my reader that don’t tweet (yet.)” – Bob Younce, Writing Journey

“Twitter provides immediacy from my “inner” social network. Someone tweets a link and I read it.” – Karen D. Swim, Words For Hire

“No because many do not tweet their blog posts. I find feed reader still necessary–but not used as often.” – Michael Martin, Remarkablogger

“Twitter can never replace my feed reader.“ Jon C. Phillips, Freelance Folder

Like I said these are the answers from some of the most active users on Twitter. And although Twitter has helped them become more active in networking, microblogging and marketing among many other things, it seems like feed reader is still their choice when it comes to catching up on news and other information.

Twitter certainly has made life simple in many ways. When it comes to networking and marketing I think Twitter is the best web service out there. But when it comes to replacing a feed reader, I am not sure. May be someday. As for now, Twitter isn’t the way to catch up on links or information, that’s for sure.

Before I end this post I would like to add one more advantage that a feed reader has over Twitter,

Say you launch a new site, and you announce it on your current blog and on Twitter, I’m 100% sure you’ll get more visitors to your new site from the announcement via the feed reader than from Twitter. Of course this depends on your subscriber number. But if you aren’t a popular blogger already or somebody influential, then it’s pretty hard to get noticed on Twitter as well.

Personally, I love the fact that in a feed reader I can organize the feeds I have subscribed to the way I want. I can get to them anytime of day without having to worry about missing an important article or news. At the end of the day, I would rather open a my feed readers to fill myself up with information rather than my Twitter account. What about you? Please share your thoughts and opinion.


  1. Jim Goldstein Says:

    It's because of Twitter that I found this, read it and replied so quickly. I do use both an RSS Reader and Twitter quite heavily, but I find Twitter adds value to regular RSS reader use. As you say networking and sharing information with like minded individuals facilitates getting high relevance information. The combination of timeliness and relevant content is a magical combination. Layer on the like minded individuals that read and relay that content and you hit online Nirvana. When I started using Twitter and feeding in my blog posts my blog subscriber numbers nearly doubled. I've met some great people through Twitter and in a way that I certainly wouldn't have been able to with just an RSS reader. Even though Twitter has its downtime issues I'm willing to endure it as I know I can reach out to my contacts in a way that is not possible through any other medium.

  2. James Chartrand - Men with Pens Says:

    Hey, thanks for the link. Good rundown too, nicely done.

    I'll put in my two cents. I like when people put up links on Twitter, a little bit of self-promotion or a "check this". But in some cases, that's ALL people do with Twitter and I can't stand that.

    Make me WANT to click the link by saying something about it. Tease me. Make me curious. Don't just use me as your screaming board for your feeds and say nothing else.

    Putting links in Twitter should be sporadic, occasional and worth it, in my mind. If that's all you do, then you aren't using Twitter for what it's meant to be: social media.

  3. Karen Swim Says:

    Great analysis of Twitter and RSS. James' beginning quote and comment sum it up quite nicely. I love the social aspect of Twitter. When I receive links from people I chat with, I WANT to read and share them and I love being able to do that in real time. However, for those that only announce a post and never chat with me, I'm less likely to read (unless it's a topic that really interests me). I still use my feed reader to catch up on weekends but tweeted links do receive a priority read.

  4. Adam Nollmeyer Says:

    I believe I RSS this site as well as the photopreneur section. I found myself here because I follow "photopreneur" on twitter, and a tweet today reminded me to check out this awesome website. Hey, my fees are a little "out of control" and when I have a stack of digital images needing to be processed, I have less time to "play" reading feeds.

    Likewise I've been to Jim Goldstein's blog before, yet having mutual friends on twitter reminded me of his site, and when I see him tweet I'll check things out sooner knowing that we have similar photography interests.

    In the end I say they both rock, for different reasons.

    Adam / AcmePhoto

  5. Leah McChesney Says:

    I say they are two different animals, each beneficial in it's own way. I personally use them differently and wouldn't want to choose between them. Great explanation on their uses though.

  6. Paula Thornton Says:

    You contributed to one of my closing statements: http://twurl.nl/0popvv

  7. Lisa Says:

    Hello. Thanks for writing this! I've been looking all over for an article about twitter vs rss feeder. I'm trying to figure which is best for a government Web site that has important updates DAILY.

    Although it sounds like I should have both (there should always be alternatives/options), I'm still not sure which would be the best way to go if I don't have the time & money to maintain both. Not everyone uses Twitter, but then again, not every knows about RSS feeds either.

    Anyway, thanks again! I appreciate it.

  8. Rafael Says:

    You can use both at same time: the RSS of your homepage!
    Feed readers like the Opera browser one can be adjusted to search for new "posts" almost each second. 😉

  9. Mote Says:

    Hey, why don't you just try this web based tool as a twitter reader http://www.litefeed.com.

  10. Derek Says:

    This is something I've been wondering about for a long time. I see Twitter as just a fancy client interface to RSS feeds. I don't use Twitter for the same reason I don't use instant messengers and for the same reason I turn the ringer off on my mobile phone: I don't like to have my stream of thought interrupted when I'm working. I'll choose when to check my RSS feed, email, or voice mail. In this mindset, Twitter doesn't do anything for me that an on-demand RSS feed can.

    A side thought is along the lines of 'not putting all your eggs in one basket'. If Twitter ever shuts down, many dependent people will be left hanging; RSS feeds are distributed throughout the Internet on many different servers with many different owners on many different ISPs.

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