Friendfeed-Feedburner Integration: Not a Big Deal?

Posted by Adam Pieniazek | Blogging Tips | June 22nd, 2009

This past Thursday, I logged into my FeedBurner account for a quick subscriber count of our various sites. Usually the counts go up a little, but this morning nearly all our sites went up by about 250 subscribers. It’s great to see such a jump in subscriber count (especially network-wide) but also unusual, especially since there wasn’t any huge traffic jump or buzz to go along with it.

Subscriber Increase Investigation

My first instinct was that Google fixed something on their end that showed more accurate numbers than before. Not satisfied with going off instinct, I set off to investigate. In a sign of the times, my first stop was After plopping in feedburner and scrolling through the tweets, one from Marko Saric told the feedburner story:

FriendFeed subscribers show as RSS subscribers in FeedBurner now. I have 3500 RSS subscribers!?! Stupid change.

Many other bloggers had similar sentiments about the FeedBurner-friendfeed integration. David Spinks from Scribnia gave three reasons why adding friendfeed to FeedBurner sucks:

  1. …someone may subscribe to me because they’re interested in my twitter and facebook updates without ever really having interest in my blog.
  2. On FF, similar to twitter, you can miss a post, and unless you go back to check if it’s there, you’ll have no idea you missed it.
  3. Friendfeed isn’t as active as it may claim to be.

Louis Gray builds off David’s first point, that not all your friendfeed subscribers actually read your blog:

The company’s comments on this change state that “you are putting your words in front of a lot more people”, so theoretically, they should be counted. But I believe it is less-intensive to follow someone on FriendFeed than it is through standard RSS, and I have no idea how this handles duplicates, though I can guess it’s somewhat controlled, given my own stats jumped by a mere 5,000 when my wife went up by more than 9,000.

The latter half of Louis quote is interesting. It seems that FeedBurner somehow accounts for duplicate subscribers, in other words people who are subscribed to your blog via RSS and friendfeed don’t necessarily get counted twice.

So, is this change really a negative for blog publishers? Does it skew your subscriber data and make it inaccurate?


But, is it a big deal?

Not a Big Deal

I don’t think so. All FeedBurner really did is provide more data about people who are potentially reading your blog. Over the past few months, there’s been a lot of chatter about how some people were ditching their feed reader and relying purely on Twitter or friendfeed for new blog posts. Considering that trend, it’s not a bad idea to pull in subscriber counts from the various social outlets and include them in your subscriber count.

Some bloggers, like Bill Bolmeier, actually like the change as it gives them a nice boost to their subscriber count.

A better way to categorize these social subscribers would be via reach or a new category, but including them in the total subscriber count is still not a big deal.

There is one main reason why adding friendfeed subscribers to the FeedBurner count is not a big deal, you can filter out the friendfeed results.

By clicking subscriber stats, FeedBurner will show you where your subscribers come from. Just take your total, subtract out your friendfeed numbers and you have a number closer to your true subscribers. Personally, I’d rather have more data than less data, especially if with one click I can calculate the total minus friendfeed count.

Having said that, here’s an interesting note on how Google defines subscribers:

FeedBurner’s subscriber count is based on an approximation of how many times your feed has been requested in a 24-hour period.

Are all my friendfeed subscribers really requesting my blog feed?


Whereas in a feed reader you pull in feeds, on friendfeed they’re pushed out and some people pull them in. To that effect, I’ll agree that the new total subscriber count it not a true representation of your subscribers, but it’s still not a big deal. So do a little bit of simple math to get at your real subscriber count and don’t buy into the hype, the friendfeed addition did not ruin FeedBurner.

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13 Responses to “Friendfeed-Feedburner Integration: Not a Big Deal?”

  1. Friendfeed-Feedburner Integration: Not a Big Deal?

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. As someone who has ditched Reader for FriendFeed, Twitter, etc. I have to agree with him. I thought it was a good idea when I heard about it.

    This comment was originally posted on FriendFeed

  3. I still contend that I want my blog subscribers to be people who are actually reading my blog, not people who are potentially reading them.

    This comment was originally posted on FriendFeed

  4. I was surprised as well when I check my stats and noticed they all took a big jump. I figured it was just Google updating the stats since I have seen similiar jumps before without any reason.

    But not it makes sense since they are pulling in a friendfeed stats. Just curious though, does it automatically know which FriendFeed accounts to pull the data from? I have multiple feeds in Feedburner but only have one friendfeed account. I’m guessing it uses your URL from the FriendFeed page?

  5. It’ll pull those multiple feeds Justin. For instance, I have this site, my personal blog, sportsfan4, and we demand videos all pulling into my friendfeed and all the subscriber counts for those four went up because of the friendfeed. So basically, it runs off what you import into friendfeed.

    So, it’s how many people subscribe to your friendfeed account is roughly many extra subscribers each of those blogs will get.

    Make sense?

  6. Friendfeed-Feedburner Integration: Not a Big Deal? #42blog

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  7. Two diff takes on the friendfeed integration in feedburned by @davefleet and @adampieniazek

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  8. I don’t disagree with you Tamar, personally would like FeedBurner to post "true" blog subscribers and "social" subscribers and total subscribers on the home page for the feed stats, but in the end if you want to drill down which subscribers are FF and which are feed readers you can.

    This comment was originally posted on FriendFeed

  9. Keith, your use of FF/Twitter is exactly why FeedBurner should pull these stats, maybe they should organize them differently but they should be pulled in and available. More data is good!

    This comment was originally posted on FriendFeed

  10. Adam, that’s a great idea. But I won’t expect Feedburner to do that – they haven’t innovated in forever.

    This comment was originally posted on FriendFeed

  11. True Tamar. You figure with Google’s vast resources they’d be able to add tons of new features to FeedBurner, but alas it’s stayed pretty much the same since their acquisition.

    This comment was originally posted on FriendFeed

  12. @jonburg It’s from FriendFeed.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  13. […] counting Friendfeed stats in their statistics, and the follower count for many Feedburner users shot up as suddenly as their Twitter followers and other Friendfeed “subscribers” began to count.  […]

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