Do People Still Use RSS Feeds?

Nov. 09, 2012 | by Edward Farragher

The digital world is constantly evolving.  We have recently seen the release of Microsoft’s Windows 8, the iPhone 5 hitting the market, and a fierce escalation in the battle between natural search optimisers and the Google Zoo. We have also just seen Facebook reach the milestone of one billion active users, but what has become of other ways to share content online?

I was recently asked, “do people still use RSS feeds?”. After performing some online research, I realised there wasn’t a great deal of up to date information to confidently give an answer. Therefore, I decided to generate my own data by conducting a survey; the results were as follows:

Around 44% of people did not know what an RSS feed was, so maybe I should have begun the post by explaining what they are. RSS (Rich Site Summary, or alternatively known as; Really Simple Syndication) is a type of web feed which involves automatically publishing and updating articles and content which can be read by a ‘feed reader’. It means that instead of visiting all the websites you are interested in; you can subscribe to their feeds and see all their new content in one place.

According to the survey; only 7% of people currently use RSS feeds, whilst 8% of people used to but now no longer do. This indicates that more than half of those who have ever used an RSS feed do not anymore. So the number of users has fallen, but there appears to be a loyal group of RSS feed users, albeit a small one.

A further finding from the survey is that almost half of those who used to subscribe to RSS feeds now get that content by directly visiting the feed provider’s website.  This is particularly surprising as a key use of RSS feeds is to avoid visiting websites directly and being able to get all the content you want in one place. This may be due to developments in technology surrounding browsing websites over the past few years; including advancements in internet connection speeds, web browsers performance and computer processing speeds.

Over a quarter now get the content they used to get from RSS feeds from Facebook, and more people use Google+ than twitter to get this information. However as this question was only served to 8% of the 500 respondents; this sample size is quite small, so a survey to a larger audience may have produced different and more accurate results.

If you would like the raw data from the survey to see the full results and carry out your own analysis please get in touch.

The survey was conducted to 500 respondents using Usurv. Usurv is an online self-service survey provider where you can ask personalised questions to a wide audience in the United Kingdom.

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    Comments (12)

    • RSS is dying? I have to be getting previous. | Posts

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    • Beauchamp

      You can also export your Google Reader feeds to Pulse. That's the service I'm using since I can take my feeds and read them on the go on my phone.Jan 2, 2014 03:49 pm

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    • tamasin.handley

      @Steven well noticed, the research actually stemmed from a conversation we were having internally about the RSS for this blog; whether anyone was using it and if we even need it. We thought we'd share the findings here :)Nov 12, 2012 11:47 am

    • Steven Case

      The irony is that your profile here offers an RSS feed for you - and presumably all of their authors.Nov 10, 2012 11:59 pm

    • Chris S

      Interesting reading, though I'd like to just make the point that many people, are still using RSS feeds, though not in a the direct manner they used to. This is especially true for the fast growing group of mobile and tablet users - where the take-up of smart news apps is even faster. Some of these apps, like Pulse, allow you to select your own sources to add to your 'stream'. Although users don't come directly into contact with RSS feeds, they power the apps behind the scene.Nov 9, 2012 11:39 pm

    • Ged Carroll

      Hi,

      Great study, a few thoughts:
      - Consumers have less choice than they used to have in an RSS reader
      - For consumers of content who don't surface it to other people having selection done by your twitter stream makes the most sense

      For those readers that still use RSS, I can recommend Newsblur which has a learning function that allows you to deal with 'RSS fatigue' by filtering out uninteresting content automaticallyNov 9, 2012 01:13 pm

     
    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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