Are ShoeMoney And John Chow Gaming Their RSS Subscribers?

by derek on October 23, 2007 · 11 comments

In the event that you have not noticed, ShoeMoney and John Chow are currently competing in an RSS contest with one another.
As a brief recap of the contest, they are conducting a “marketing challenge” to see who can gain the most RSS subscribers in the month of October. They each noted their FeedBurner subscriber count at the beginning of the month and will do so again at the end of the month. Whoever has added the most to their RSS subscriber count wins. But…
Is this really a marketing challenge or are they each gaming their RSS subscribers?
Both ShoeMoney and John Chow have been offering quite a few great prizes in their own contests meant to encourage people to subscribe to their RSS feed. However, simply adding their feed to your favorite RSS reader is not enough as they also want you to subscribe to their RSS feed via email.
ShoeMoney said,

You will want to make sure you are both a RSS subscriber and a email subscriber to the rss feed to eligible to win…

John Chow encouraged his readers by saying,

Subscribe to my feed, sign up to my RSS by Email, download my toolbar and tell all your friends to do that same.

How much marketing is really involved here?
Yes, both John and Shoe have secured some really sweet prizes to offer in their individual contests but I am sure there were people lining up to donate prizes for recognition on their blogs. In addition, both of these guys have such a large following of readers that will do just about anything for the chance of a little recognition from one of these uber-bloggers that quite a few likely signed up for each method of subscribing to the RSS feed.
As a subscriber, why would I want to get the feed via my preferred RSS reader as well as a regular email? This just seems like you are gaming your RSS subscribers to expect them to get the same information via multiple sources so you can boost your subscriber count.
Don’t get me wrong – I think both Shoe and John deliver great content and I have been subscribed to their RSS feed since well before this contest started. I even gave into temptation and subscribed to ShoeMoney via the email feed as well.
But seeing the tactics that both of them have been using leaves me feeling like this is less about marketing their RSS feed and more about gaming the subscribers that they already had.
What do you think?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Leo October 24, 2007 at 1:54 am

I feel like a sheep. Baaaaaah!

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Matt Jones October 24, 2007 at 7:51 am

I sort of agree with you. They are largly just gaming the subscribers they have, but just the fact this contest is on gets them both loads of new subscribers.

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Dave October 24, 2007 at 9:43 am

I was thinking the same thing….why do I need to sign up for the e-mail feed if I’m already subscribed via RSS. I wonder if the numbers will go down decently once all these contests are over.

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Moonwalks October 24, 2007 at 9:58 am

It seems lame and useless to me. Is just a matter of personal ego I think and they lost direction. I know I won’t fall for that.

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Nick October 24, 2007 at 12:22 pm

I think you make a very good point here Derek. Even though they have both made the RSS count go up, I wonder how many of them are people who already were signed up through a reader that just signed up via email to try and win a prize vs how many new subscribers they are actually getting.
Like Dave, I wonder how much their numbers are going to decrease after the contest.

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derek October 24, 2007 at 10:28 pm

@Leo :: Keep your thoughts about sheep to yourself! 😉
@Matt :: Are they really getting new subscribers though? I am sure there are some but I have to believe a good number of them are people simply signing up via email or another feed reader to try and win prizes.
@Dave :: It will be interesting to see if the numbers drop once the contest is over. I don’t think they’ll drop too much only because most people will be too lazy to unsubscribe from the multiple sources at the end.
@Moonwalks :: I like the concept of the contest but the way they both seem to be encouraging existing RSS subscribers to just sign up for additional feeds doesn’t appeal to me.
@Nick :: Thanks, I have to imagine a healthy percentage of the new subscribers are actually old subscribers that have added email or one of the other options. We’ll never really know but this just doesn’t really seem to be about marketing to me.

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Armen October 24, 2007 at 10:36 pm

Put simply…stupid! They’ve just drawn in their little band of ‘Chowites’ and ‘Shoeites’. Like pigs to the slaughter.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate both guys, and I think Chow is far from the evil guy he personified as, but, this is a silly game indeed.

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Male Pattern Baldness October 26, 2007 at 3:21 am

I guess it’s just a promotion campaign.

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Blog Tools October 27, 2007 at 9:30 pm

I was thinking the same thing, now not only am i subscribed to both via reader, I am subscribed to both via email.
If each person subscribed from reader, bloglines, and email that would triple their stats + new subscribers. Good for them, not so much for the rest of us.
After the contest I will definitely be unsubscribing from email. Hope I win a prize first

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derek October 28, 2007 at 10:08 pm

@Armen :: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The contest will be ending soon so it will be interesting to see if either of them experience a drop.
@MPB :: Looks like it.
@Blog Tools :: As I mentioned, I did subscribe to Shoe via email as well but I didn’t sign up for John’s email feed and I passed on the toolbar as well. Good luck with the prize!

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