Will Twitter Replace RSS?

Twitter as RSS.jpgIn this guest post George Angus from TumbleMoose.com (follow him at @tumblemoose) talks about how Twitter has changed his RSS reading habits.

A few months back, my daily routine was just that – routine. Grab the first cup of java, head to the writing den and get to it. Check the email, put out any immediate fires and then spend some time working the feeds.

Twitter has changed all of that. Ok, maybe not all of it. Just try and get that first cup of coffee out of my hands. It did however, change my morning and certainly my daily routine. As soon as I start my browser I open a Twitter tab and it stays open all day. I don’t go straight to the RSS feeds any longer.

In a lot of ways, Twitter is my RSS feed “reader”.

What?! Blasphemy! I can hear it now. Stick with me, I’ll explain.

Here’s how a typical scenario plays out, right? You come across a site that may be new to you and it’s full of great stuff. You decide you want to know when this site puts something new out there so you find the big orange button and click away. Done. Then once a day/week/month you head on over and weed through your feeds. If you’ve got 15 or 20 feeds to get through it’s a pretty big task. Suppose you have 50? Yikes, it’s going to be a long day.

This is where Twitter as a feed service comes in to play. Take an honest inventory of your subscriptions. How many of those do your really want to follow every day? I’ve worked very hard to build a community. There are folks who are regular visitors and commenters on my site and we have interaction on nearly a daily basis. I want to know when they post something new, I want them to know when I’ve posted. In addition to my community, there are some sites outside of my clan that I like to pay attention to. All of these folks are on Twitter.

My Twitter day goes something like this: I back page through my timeline to see if anyone has tweeted a post. If it’s one of my clan or if it sounds interesting I’ll click on over and have a peek, comment as appropriate and move to the next one. I’ll back page roughly twelve hours or until I find my last tweet. From that point forward I’m keeping an eye on the timeline every now and then. Admittedly on some days this is more difficult than other’s but for about the past month it has been doable.


Here are the benefits of using Twitter as a feed:

  • Lightning fast response. Don’t deny it, you want that coveted #1 comment position. Using a standard feed reader, when was the last time you were able to grab the brass ring at a big-boy-blog?
  • ReTweet. If I find a gem, I’m going to RT the post and share, share, share. This gets the traffic to the post while it is still fresh. I find that my clan also RTs my posts on occasion bringing it back into the limelight.
  • Clutter reduction. Focusing my efforts in this single arena keeps me sharp and focused and able to respond quickly to most anything.
  • I can contribute. By the time a feed ends up in my mailbox or reader the conversation is about done. I feel like I’ve pulled my soapbox up to the town square of a ghost town.

Final Points

  • If all you ever do is tweet your posts you are going to end up very lonely. Don’t do it. This is a community. Engage, contribute and have a presence.
  • For those sites that have not been Twitterized, switch from a feed reader to an email subscription. (although you still lose the lightning fast response with this option)

Ok folks. Let’s hear it. Your turn…

PS from Darren

I was chatting with one Twitter user recently who literally does use Twitter to read their more important feeds.

Here’s how they explained doing it:

  1. They set up a Twitter account especially for feeds. They marked it as a private feed which only they follow (ie they don’t let anyone else have permission to follow it).
  2. They have an account at TwitterFeed and have added the RSS feeds of around 30 blogs that they follow.
  3. They then forward these feeds to their private Twitter account.
  4. As new posts come up on the blogs that they follow the feeds of they come into their Twitter stream.

It’s perhaps not a system that will suit everyone – but this person loves it – it enables them to center even more of what they do online around Twitter.


  • December 11, 2008

    I do really like using Twitter to find out about the latest blog posts, definately, it seems much more personal, and just seeing the headline in the twitter stream helps me to decide if I would like to read the article too.

    I don’t think twitter will ever REPLACE my feedreader though, as I really like being able to read all of the blogs that I am watching in one place, and even though I get updates on Darren’s various blogs on my twitter, I still like being able to read the latest articles all in one place when I need to.

  • December 11, 2008

    Darren, I do exactly that with feeds that come from searches for my username and brand. The turn-around time is fantastic and it allows me to amaze people with my l33t web omni-presence.

  • December 11, 2008

    I see the point and I find myself getting to articles quicker via Twitter than through my feed but it’s still only a small amount. I don’t have time to go looking through my past Twitter history to see if something interesting came up. There’s too many followers to do that! I still rely on my RSS to catch up to my favorite sites. If they are on Twitter I just see it a little quicker but I don’t see Twitter replacing RSS. Supplement yes. Though what Darren was talking about does sound interesting…

  • December 11, 2008

    I literally said, “YES!” when I read this as that has happened to me as well.

    Twitter is now my quick way to keep up with news. One problem occurs though if you have feeds from sites that post a lot of content, then your box gets cluttered with posts and that makes it harder to find Tweets as opposed to feeds. I actually unfollowed a number of MSM Twitter accounts …too many updates, my entire Twitter stream was feeds from blogs and media sites.

    (I have no idea how someone with 30 feeds flowing into his stream ever sees Tweets from friends! – that would take a lot of digging)

    I guess one option would be to set up the separate Twitter account for feeds, but don’t follow it…just check it as one would Reader…or is that counter productive?

  • December 11, 2008

    Awesome post.

    I actually have let Twitter replace not necessarily my RSS feeds, but the time that I dedicated to it. I can setup Twitter to work with my browser, preventing the need to open yet another window in my already busy landscape.

    Though more streamlined, I opened my reader the other day and realized I was missing out on a lot of posts. I get a lot of great information through Twitter, but I realized that the RSS morning time was really important, and will need to find an acceptable way to accommodate it.

    Perhaps Darrens RT of a tip will be of some use.

  • December 11, 2008

    Nice one George! Very insightful. Yes, I am also using twitter as a channel for staying up to speed of things that matter to me. The consequence of this is that I end up following many people and feeds. But luckily, there’s a really handy twitter client that helps you organize the tweets you receive: TweetDeck. It allows you to organize your tweets in columns. That way I can closely follow my friends and stay more or less up to date with all the other tweets I receive.

  • December 11, 2008

    FFB, I totally agree with you, speed of getting to articles is something that I did forget to mention….and I really like that, just like the way I got to this particular article as soon as it was published! But you are right, I have not got time to look back over my twitterstream…there is TOO much going on!

  • December 11, 2008

    Some good points there George, thank you.

    I’ve found a mix of Twitter and Google Reader (and FriendFeed!) to be effective. In particular I find Google Reader’s “share with note” functionality to be superior at times to Re-tweets, when you want to add your thought to the mix and a re-tweet has already used up most of your 140 character limit for example.

  • December 11, 2008

    I can see it being as RSS reader well not quite as reader but similar. I get my tech news faster and more accurate then from most of the sources.

    You know how it is: One tech blogger says iPhone is blue another one will say it’s Black, yet 5000 Twitters say its RED and that is the source I believe in.

    I constantly watch the trending on Twitter with help of tweetgrid.com

  • December 11, 2008

    I use twitter to supplement my RSS stream on Google Reader. First thing every day, I hop on Google Reader and use it to try to “give first,” that is, to offer my twitter followers something juicy from my niche (Supreme Court and appellate legal practice). Then I get on twitter and catch up on my stream. Meanwhile, things others are circulating on twitter supplement my RSS feeds, and retweeting those within my niche is another way of giving back. The information exchange has been fabulous. I think using twitter *as* an RSS feed would get too disorganized; I, too, like to read all in one place.

  • December 11, 2008

    I really hope not. I love my rss feeds and I love Twitter but both for entirely different reasons

  • December 11, 2008

    Exactly the same thing happened to me. In less than a month of twitter use, I’ve completely change my routine. Like you did I kept my morning coffee, but switched from netvibes rss reader to twitter. I hardly use rss anymore these days but I don’t think I miss anything about what’s going on as there is always some noise on twitter about interesting news, whatever they are.

  • December 11, 2008

    I’m not sure twitter will replace RSS feeds, but I do see it serving a complementary function. I do find there are some blogs I only go to when the blogger tweets. I don’t bookmark it; I don’t RSS it; but I like to read it — just need that nudge.

    Twitter for me is like this big menu of stuff I might be interested in. Not sure it will replace RSS though because if I really like a blog, I’ll RSS it.

  • December 11, 2008

    I’ve been cleaning up Google Reader today and an idea suddenly occurred to me to remove those Twitter bloggers with posts that had began to automatically tweet when they hit the publish button on their sites. That would have been one less work for me.

    I’ve tried to invite my readers to join Twitter, but not all of them like to join this one. So in my case Twitter cannot entirely replace my RSS feed reader. I can just consider option number one, or just unfollow those who simply tweet their blog posts.

  • December 11, 2008

    i prefer twitter simply because its easy to follow. Just a click and it wont even move you to another page

  • December 11, 2008

    After reading this I realized I’m starting to do THE EXACT SAME THING, that is moving my reading habit over to twitter. I’m scanning headlines and using Google reader maybe 1-2 times per week right now, as opposed to 1-2 times per day previously. Tweetdeck? Open all day, of course.

    In a bit of a throwback move, I do physically visit the sites of the 5-6 blogs that I have the tightest relationships with.

  • December 11, 2008

    I would say only about 1/16 of the blogs I subscribe to are on Twitter, so no way would it replace a feed reader. Plus, I hate clicking through to blogs. I love reading and commenting on posts from within the reader. I never back through timelines either. I only Twitter in the here and now.

  • December 11, 2008

    This is exactly what I do. My poor feed reader is so lonely now. And how do you get the “twitter this” link at the end of your post? Love that!

  • December 11, 2008

    This article rings true for me. Just recently realized by the time I get around to opening my feed reader I already know most of the stories thanks to Twitter.

    Think it is time to prune the subscriptions again.

  • December 11, 2008

    I don’t really think it will. What’s nice about RSS is that you can read a whole blog post without having to go to the web page. Twitter doesn’t allow you to do this so it is a hassle to have to go to the web page every time.

  • December 11, 2008

    I think Twitter and Blogging are two completely different entities, I would find it very difficult for one to replace the other, even just in their feeding purposes.

    In fact, personally speaking, I really enjoy when my latest twitter content from whoever i am following is completely unrelated, or at least, provides a different angle than the blog they are maintaining. Twitter’s strength seems to be its brevity, and the mix of news that can go from important to pointless in those 140 characters.

    Just my view, anyway, I won’t be ditching my live bookmarks any time soon!

  • December 11, 2008

    I don’t think Twitter will replace RSS because if you follow a lot of people, chances are pretty good you’ll miss an update here and there that you wouldn’t miss in your RSS feed. I think Twitter can be a great addition to RSS but not a replacement.

    That’s why I built a Twitter bot to tweet every new article I post on my website for people who do like to get updates via Twitter, but I’ll never replace RSS with Twitter.

  • December 11, 2008

    I use Twitter in exactly the way described above. I use it to announce posts on DesertBlog (the blog of the Desert Protective Council) as well as updates to our main website. I use it to share sites or articles that I think will interest my Twitter community. I retweet posts by others in the community when they apply to deserts. I try to reply to tweets and supply random tweets of my own to really be part of a conversation, rather than just promoting the blog. And I certainly use it to stay up to date with the blog posts of my favorite bloggers (for instance, that’s how I got to this post). I still follow blogs through RSS that don’t use Twitter, but for those that use both, Twitter just about always beats RSS in letting me know about new stuff. For me, I always need a reminder to read even my favorite sites, so either Twitter, or RSS to my e-mail or my iGoogle page is a must.

    As a blogger for an organization, engaging with my small Twitter community became a bit problematic as those personal relationships began to develop and we began to share more personal information. I began using my personal Twitter id, LarryHogue, more frequently and encouraged any DesertBlog followers to follow me over there for more personal stuff.

    I’m wondering how other organizational Twitter users work around this problem? Could make a good article topic, Darren. Seems like this only applies to organizational bloggers, and not to bloggers who speak only for themselves.

  • December 11, 2008

    I don’t think it will at all, but I needn’t explain why. Everyone else has done a good job at it already. :)

    Maybe Twitter could become the “RSS for the masses?” RSS hasn’t really been adopted by people outside the tech/blogging sphere yet. Maybe Twitter could end up being their way of aggregating news.

  • December 11, 2008

    Good post, and its what really hapening

  • December 11, 2008

    Allright. Great discussion going here folks. Let’s keep it up.

    @McMilker. I don’t think that would be counterproductive. I think there needs to be a little time tweaking your/twitter/rss strategy to try and get the best of both worlds!

    @James: Thanks. I think Twitter aps like Tweetdeck are great tools and will help us to morph how we view sites!

    @Lance: Same page, of course! ;-)

    @Musings: Cool. I figured other folks were probably doing the same. I’ll have to check the “Tweet this” ap. Anyone?

  • December 11, 2008

    Great food for thought; I do think that they serve different purposes though. I think that Twitter makes your posts a little more personal because you Tweet them to your followers. The disadvantage with this is that if your followers aren’t online, they most likely won’t see that Tweet. Enter the advantage of RSS. Your readers can check in when they are available to actually engage and digest your words.

    In short, I wouldn’t want to give up either of them; they’re both extremely important to me in my daily blogger activities.

  • December 11, 2008

    I don’t see it, myself. As many have noted already, if you don’t happen to see the Tweet, you’ll never know what you missed. (Come to think of it – that may not be a bad thing!)

    No, my RSS reader picks them up and keeps ‘em for me so I can read them (or not) at my own leisure.

  • December 11, 2008


    I don’t think that would work for me, as a reader anyway. I would keep my twitter window open all day but my bosses frown on that sort of thing! The advice with only tweeting your posts? yeah, I hope some people take that advice…although they are usually ignored anyway. If you can’t participate and share then go home. :)

  • December 11, 2008

    Twitter is phenomenal. There’s no doubt about it. Its still developing and not everyone has joined the twitterverse, but I can totally see this in regards to social media point of view. With twitter feed I can see some of my favorite social media people @problogger and @chrisbrogan to name a few.

    Unfortunately I love my feeds and will never strictly rely on twitter because a lot of my favorite feeds and their writers (the non-tech crowd) are not on twitter yet or even mentioned it once. Plus there are so many other microblogging tools that others can rely on that not necessarily everyone will join strictly twitter. It has not become a staple such as facebook has, which is a pity.

  • December 11, 2008

    I don’t see Twitter ever replacing my RSS subscriptions.

    Slower. Manual tweet by blogger may be fast but feed is automated and still faster. And using twitterfeed like most – update in twitter can show up hours after it was actually published.

    Cluttered. goodmornings and cofee updates don’t help looking for blog updates at all.

    No organized archive. No organization at all actually.

    Not bulk. I can instantly look through twenty headlines from active blog in feed reader. On twitter I’d had to read each one separately and waste way more time.

    PS post names 15-20 feeds big task and 50 scary. I am subscribed to ~130 blogs and ~30 feeds of other stuff. Isn’t too hard to manage since I moved to service with sync across home/work/mobile. Don’t see twitter as capable tool for such amount of updates.

  • December 11, 2008


    Thanks for the great comments on this. I think the only thing one could say for certain is that at the moment there is no one best way to get accomplished all that we would like. I saw a lot of folks who are blending and tweaking things to work what is best for them. Right on. That’s what it’s all about. I’m hoping the post gave some food for thought and inspired folks to look at doing things a little differently from how they always have.



  • December 11, 2008

    Analysis is critical. Sharing links can be done anywhere but adding some context and purpose to your tweets takes you from Mr. RSS to Mr. REAL.

    Great post.

  • December 11, 2008

    Hi George!

    I’ve found that I am using my feed reader less than I used to. But I don’t want to give it up. I follow too many people on Twitter to catch everything and I use GReader as a sort of database. I might not check it all the time but I can search it and all the data is there.

  • December 11, 2008

    I can easily do without “information” like: “‘m back from the pub” and so on. I’ll NEVER use Twitter, for sure!

  • December 11, 2008

    @Rudy: That really is a common misconception of Twitter. I can do without such messages too (although I don’t mind occasional ones), but I can assure you that such messages do not form the majority of what people say in my network. And you can always unfollow people if you’re not interested anymore.

  • December 12, 2008

    Interesting idea, and I do agree that when I’m at my computer, I’m more likely to click over to a blog post that’s been tweeted about before I see it listed in my RSS feeder.

    The key to the above statement, however, is “when I’m at my computer”. I use twitter on my phone, and I rarely check out blog posts there. That’s my own preference, because I like to bookmark good posts, and I haven’t yet figured out how to do that easily on the iPhone.

    As well, tweets are a stream, and I do think it’s easy to miss them now and then. With the RSS reader, I can be sure I’ve seen everything by a particular writer.

  • December 12, 2008

    Great Topic! I’m a new twitter user and honestly before I started using I didn’t really get it, but now that I’ve started using it I can really see the appeal. But I don’t think Twitter will replace rss for some of the same reasons social networking sites have not replaced email.

  • December 12, 2008

    It doesn’t replace RSS feeds for me, but it’s a delightful supplement to catch posts earlier, as well as topics that just catch my eye.

  • December 12, 2008

    It can’t replace my RSS because most of my subscribed blogs don’t support twitter.

  • December 13, 2008

    Like a lot of people have already said here, I’m at the point where I don’t even use my RSS feeder. Every blog I was following via their RSS feed, I now follow on Twitter since they post on Twitter when there is a new post on their blog.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if most people opt for someone’s Twitter than their RSS feed by the end of 2009. I know I do already.

    The Geek Entrepreneur

  • December 13, 2008

    I definitely think it will and wrote about it in May! :D


    RSS feed just goes into a clogged reader and who knows how often subscribers read the feeds. Twitter most people are on all the time. I’m more more interested in Twitter than traditional RSS.

    In fact if I want new bloggeries to read I just go to twitter. Don’t even use a reader!

  • December 13, 2008

    Twitter and RSS are two different technologies. RSS is a one-way push technology as opposed to Twitter which is an interactive conversation tool (as well as for short burst announcements). That of course is it’s appeal but we’re talking apples and oranges here.

    For reading tweets, I find it more convenient to subscribe to those who I follow in my Twitter community and read it in my RSS newsreader. Reading tweets in one location is a great time saver.

    Twitter cannot replace a good newsreader. The interface is far too clunky, even as a conversation tool. Newsreaders have been around a long time and are generally a more mature product. They are designed for reading the news and they do it very well.

    I’ve recently switched to using Opera as my blogging/twitter browser for its blazing speed, stability and built-in newsreader. It meets all of my needs and then some and. Very efficient.

    RSS is here to stay.

  • December 13, 2008

    I forgot to add that my philosophy in life is to keep things simple. I don’t like having to use a half-dozen tools to accomplish something and I do all of my blogging and tweeting from within the browser with a couple of tabs open.

    Throughout my blogging career I helped pioneer the use of RSS in blogs so I’m obviously a fan (and it’s no coincidence that RSS means Really Simple Syndication either).


  • December 13, 2008

    I’m more inclined to believe that Friend feed will replace RSS, not twitter. With the exception of like 3, I don’t follow blogs on twitter. Twitter is more a channel for me to keep up with people, for instance I’m a big fan of Twit and twit live, and I follow him on twitter to keep up with him.

  • December 13, 2008

    JUST LIKE TIM FERRIS HAS SAID BEFORE…..”WHY DO I NOT FOLLOW ANYONE? B/C IT WILL SOON BECOME ANOTHER INBOX” What will this twitter do when he follows 50 blogs through twitter. It’s moderation my tweets, moderation

  • December 13, 2008

    Well, well, well. It appears that second life has come to the post. In looking at this last batch of comments I guess I’m seeing about what I thought. A lot of folks do see the RSS as being something that is just too convenient to be replaced by Twitter. Ok, I’ll buy that – for the time being. I bet there has been some food for thought though. I think it will be very interesting to see this same line of discussion in a year. What say you? Mark it on your calendars and we’ll have a look-see.

    Thanks again for all of the thoughtful comments. You folks are some real pros, I’ll give you that.


    George Angus

  • December 13, 2008

    I’m not interested in tweets that are just links to your website (or anybody’s for that matter) when ever it gets updated THAT is what my RSS reader if for.
    Twitter is for the *little* things or the breaking news *before* an article is written up about it…

  • December 23, 2008

    I don’t think RSS will replace Twitter. In fact it will compliment Twitter and all blogs. Even if a twitter profile is blocked (only viewable by approved list of contacts), there are ways to read Twitterers’ twits and that’s via RSS! (Don’t say I told you!)

  • December 23, 2008

    Hi Kelly. I think it’s entirely possible you are correct, and don’t worry – your secret is safe with me!


  • December 29, 2008

    After writing a really long reply here, I figured it would make a better blog post…


  • January 6, 2009

    I did something similar for a group I belong to, rss feeds of the group member’s blogs go to one twitter account for those who belong to the group. I never got into the habit of using an rss feeder. It isn’t private and gives us all more exposure.

  • January 23, 2009

    I have noticed plurk especially having a stronger search presence than my twitter account for reasons I know not?(excuse my weird words)

  • February 13, 2009

    A similar post on my blog about the invasion of twitter into Rss Domain: http://futurebells.com/internet/social-media-internet/twitter-social-media-twitter-spreading-wings-over-rss/

  • October 1, 2009

    Totally agree. I am a newbie to Twitter –2 months!–, but it did impact dramatically my look-for-info experience. Read on.

  • August 15, 2010

    Twitter is useful for following “real-time” conversations and marketing spam. However Twitter could never replace the RSS feeds that I follow.

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