Give an excerpt of your stories in a feed, get more clicks

inquirer-google-reader

You gotta give something to get something, man.

So, I’m tired of newspapers ignoring the details of an RSS feed. In a mobile world, I have to believe that choosing what Internet news, information, and blog updates come to you will be the future.

So why aren’t newspapers figuring out the details?

The above image shows three feed items in my Google Reader , among the more popular RSS catchers. One is from the Drudge Retort, the self-labeled answer to the Drudge Report, and it includes an excerpt of its post. If I like the bit I read, I click on it and find more.

Because you have to get your clicks. Newspapers have to understand that RSS catchers are content deliverers, like blogs, they are an opportunity at dissemination, not competition.

Providing an excerpt, just a sentence or three, very likely the nut graf, which even blog posts should have, can draw a reader in. A headline catches my eye, but only more details will actually get me to click through to your site.

In fact, I prefer an excerpt to the clutter of full text (posts from my feed for this site have an excerpt).

The second item in the above image is from Commonwealth Confidential, the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Harrisburg state capital bureau blog. Of late, their blog has included an occasional sentence or two that just might convince me to make the effort.

The third item is from Attytood, the national politics and color blog from Daily News columnist Will Bunch, among Philadelphia’s most popular blogs. His posts never have an excerpt. In the three weeks I’ve subscribed to his blog, I’ve clicked through twice – only one headline other than the one above was descriptive and interesting enough to get me to actually visit Philly.com.

In addition to clicks, there is the under-used opportunity to sell ads on a feed, as is done on The Drudge Report (to which I also subscribe).

These are lessons that everyone hoping to make money or increase clicks online needs to know, newspapers and bloggers alike.

I subscribe to more than 50 blogs and have friends who put that total to shame. Others are always looking for ways to take on more, to discover and learn and explore more of the Internet more quickly.

With greater speed, if something doesn’t stop a reader, you’ll lose him. As the competition get fiercer, newspapers need to attract readers through any means possible – like feed catchers – not bore them.