I’m sitting on my deck, the sun is out, I have a cup of tea resting on the broad arm of my adirondack chair.

After a cheery wave to my neighbour, with my favoured mobile device in hand, I am indulging myself in a long overdue catch-up with my RSS feeds on a fine Saturday morning. Contented as I flick through the wisdom of the bloggers I have chosen to follow.

But wait… I have had to jump up, grab my laptop and blog – what has disturbed my idyllic peace?

Three words:

“click here to read more”.

Yes, it’s those uptight buggers, who’s RSS feed only shows a summary of the post.

And yes.. I know, I’ve got my finger on the digital pulse, I am going to rant about something that people have been ranting about for years. Part of the reason is that I am thinking a great deal about the business of content marketing right now – and this is important.

Anyway… Those uptight buggers that feel that my reading experience is going to be enhanced by leaving my neatly ordered portal of enlightenment (in my case using gReader) to go to their website in exchange for a special appearance as a notch in their web analytics bed post.

Why?

I admit, I love a web analytics bed post notch as much as the next blogger and if you are reading this on my website, I heartily appreciate you appearing on mine. I also very much appreciate that I have subscribers that Feedburner diligently reports.

However – surely if the content is compelling enough I am going to go to the site anyway?

I am going to mark it with a star and share, I’m going to want to find a twitter handle to follow, I am going to retweet –  I might even click on the Google ads, in fact my friends might – if the content is easy for me to consume and share in the first place.

An RSS summary is not a worm to catch a fish, when I click the ‘next post’ button on my RSS reader I can see the worm, but I can also see the hook. I can see a short paragraph of text and the “read more”.

Without reading, I am free to move onto the next juicy worm that someone has generously thrown into the pond, no strings (or should this be fishing line) attached. No star for you, no follow, no retweet – no share.

Yes you want to measure, but sometimes we have to face the fact that it’s just not going to happen.

Lately I have written for other publications and blogs more than I have here (see other writing) – and to be honest I have no firm idea what impact this has had on brand Truscott or my employer.

Roughly a billion people read an article I wrote on Read Write Web, but my Twitter followers didn’t jump, this blog didn’t crash under the load and the Glengarry leads didn’t suddenly show up in Salesforce.

And that’s OK.

A possibly immeasurably tiny step was taken in engaging an audience, both mine and that of my company – and a customer experience, web engagement (call it what you will) is made up of those tiny steps.

I’m not a fisherman, but maybe in these crowded social media days we should consider at least some of our social content to be the “chum” that fisherman throw into the water to get the fish excited. Apparently this works, you throw away some special bait and you catch the bigger fish.

My feeling is that if you get me engaged with your “chum” content – when you do decide to fish I’ll willingly bite on the hook and be gladly reeled in.

This analogy has a flaw as it suggests throwaway “chum” content – not at all.

If folks like Brian Sollis, Seth Godin, Joe Spolsky, Robert Rose and publications like Read Write Web can share the good stuff – what’s so special about you and your content?

To return to the saying that I used in the title and is slightly more eloquent than talking about fish (apologies to it’s author Richard Bach for what I am about to do) :

If you love your content, set it free  – if it comes back (with followers, likes, subscribers and hits) – then it was truly yours.