FeedBurner Networks – The Venture Capital Network

FeedBurner is beta testing a new set of functionality – called “Networks” that is planned for a September launch.  I’m coordinating one of the beta Networks – the Venture Capital Network.

A FeedBurner Network is a collection of blogs that fit within a particular topic.  The goal is to create high quality collections of similar types of publishers.  For example, if you are interested in reading Venture Capital bloggers, you currently have to manually poke around to find them.  Some bloggers have taken it upon themselves to compile a list of Venture Capital bloggers (65 – where did all those come from?) and you can use Technorati to find Blogs about Venture Capital.  But – none of these approaches is particularly organized, scales, or is really manageable.

A FeedBurner Network is managed by a coordinator.  At this stage the coordinator is the gatekeeper for the network, although it will evolve so that all members of a network can promote other potential members.  As a result, the content is “filtered and selected” by the network coordinator (and ultimately members) so that there aren’t “fake” Venture Capital blogs as part of the network.  The result should be a higher quality network and a quick and easy way to find “Venture Capital bloggers.”

Obviously, Venture Capital bloggers is a niche network.  However, it has a surprisingly large readership.  I’ve invited 13 VC bloggers into the network at this point and the network already has 46,000 subscribers.  I’m continuing to gradually invite VC bloggers into the network (if you are a VC blogger, haven’t been invited, but want to be in the network, email me) as I make sure all the FeedBurner stuff (remember – this is an early beta) is rock solid.

There are benefits to subscribers:

  • It’s easy to find high quality relevant bloggers / feeds for a specific topic through the aggregation into a Network.
  • There will be a “micro-portal” for each Network – you’ll be able to go to a landing page that lists all the members of the network, selectively subscribe to their feeds, or explore their blogs.
  • You’ll be able to subscribe to the spliced Network feed (for example, here is the spliced feed for the Venture Capital Network).

There are also benefits to publishers:

  • The “micro-portal” will be another place for subscribers to find your blog / feed.
  • You will get new readers as a result of people that subscribe to the spliced feed (this will show up in your subscriber metrics.)
  • Advertisers will be able buy ads in the Network with higher quality advertising that is relevant to the readers of feeds in the Network.
  • You’ll have Network oriented publicity tools (think stuff like “Widget with the latest X headlines in the Network”, or the Banner that I have on the top left of my blog stating that I’m part of the network) which will help cross-promote feeds in the network.
  • You might make some new friends via your fellow Network members.

The guys at FeedBurner have a lot of other ideas about this which they’ll roll out in phase 2 of the Network product at the end of the year.  For now, we’re testing a few networks – Venture Capital being one of them – and would love any and all feedback subscribers and publishers have.

  • Do you fear that as people consume your blog content through the network rather than directly from your site/feed that your own personal voice (and thus reputation/notoriety) will get diluted? If I click on the “Feld Thoughts” bookmark in my feed reader I directly associate what I’m reading with Brad Feld, but if I’m skimming through the (lengthy list of) posts in the “network” feed the identify of each author gets blurred or even lost to me. As a reader I start to think of the “brand” of the network as my source of information and start to lose my affinity with the individual authors.

    Just curious to hear your thoughts on that dynamic.

  • Mark Troutman

    Don’t let the Network grow too large. My RSS reader magically accumulates feeds and grows to a point where I just don’t have the time to read all of the blogs I’ve subscribed to. I would like to see a short list of really high quality blogs that won’t take me more than 30 minutes a day to follow.

    A possible idea would be to have tiers to the Network. It may get too clumsy.. but I envision VC Network A, B, C and then VC Network Complete, where each tier has a slightly different flavor. I think it is too soon to try and implement something like this now, but would be a nice expansion on the product later.

    I really like what you guys are doing over there at FeedBurner, keep up the good work.

  • Both excellent comments that we are going to try to address.

    1. While you can subscribe to the network feed, it’ll also be easy to subscribe to individual feeds in the network. In addition – I just thought of a clever way to do this from the spliced feed page, which I’ll make sure we roll in. So – you can scan the full network feed, but then still get full feeds (easily) from individual members of the network.

    2. You should have a way to deselect members of the network from the full network feed. For example, say you aren’t interested in reading my stuff anymore. You should be able to get the network – Feld Thoughts.

    3. The networks should be able to be filtered by category. For example, you don’t want to read all the posts – just the ones about venture capital and entrepreneurship. This should be something you (the subscriber) controls, but this should also be something the network coordinator can configure for the entire network.

    I think these address both of the points raised above.

  • I would love to be able to help out and start a network for marketing blogs. I think this is a great idea and a great way to get like minded people reading other relevant content and continue to share links.

    Let me know if I can be of any help.

  • Ian

    I started something similar to what you mention called http://vc-chat.com about 3-4 weeks ago.

    god my timing is awful.

  • Sorry, but as a feed subscriber I don’t see much benefit to me. I can already aggregate feeds via feed searches and, depending on the newsreader, organize feeds in many ways. Are these network coordinators paid? Or is FeedBurner making money off of you for free?

  • Sounds pretty similar to what we’ve been doing at 9rules for about a year now. Instead of individial networks, we call the Communities and have about 30 of them:

    Business Community (VCs, stock analysts, investing)

  • Brad (and Dick/Feedburner crew), I really like this idea and will sign up!

  • Yes, I just posted on this at Webmetricsguru.com – it’s a good idea as this stage – but it’s going to need work. I’m holding out final decision about the value of this offering till Phase 2 is rolled out at the end of 2006.

  • I’d welcome the opportunity to participate in an entertainment/technology network.

  • the concept is really good and is a little helpful.

  • the concept is really good and is a little helpful.

  • Sorry, but as a feed subscriber I don't see much benefit to me. I can already aggregate feeds via feed searches and, depending on the newsreader, organize feeds in many ways. Are these network coordinators paid? Or is FeedBurner making money off of you for free?

  • The problem with many social networks are that they hover between 1 % and 5 to 6% with no hope of reaching the 19%. "Walking Dead" so to say!

  • nice sharing..
    cant wait next post.

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