While this post talks about Feedbuner's FeedFlare capability and how use of the feature can improve interactivity, the concept of augmenting feeds with various "attention analytics" and "action options" applies to enterprise use of feeds. For instance, I might only scan a particular feed item but if I noticed that it is being aggressively bookmarked I might re-visit the feed item to understand "what all the fuss is about". So certain persistent analytics on what other people are doing with a feed item can grab my attention even if I had only given the article a cursory glance initially. Within an enterprise, this could be fine-tuned to include counts by role (e.g., architects) so that feeds sent to architects would have specific analytics pertaining to that community group. While most of the footers added to a feed are rather obvious (e-mail, tag, digg) - for an enterprise the options can be more application and process-oriented (perhaps initiating a workflow). As a feed passes through a feed management server, that server has the opportunity to profile and correlate the feed to other activities and intelligently supplement the feed with action steps that make feed consumption a bridge to other work activities. For instance, you might added an action item to post the feed item to a a library or discussion forum within a virtual workspace site. The idea of having a back-end that perpetually analyzes all feeds suggests that there is the opportunity for an intranet version of a Feedburner-like service with similar Feed Flare functionality. Developers could build a catalog of attention analytics and action options to avoid feed items being a terminal end-point - instead, users have a options that continue the flow, transitioning the next activity to the proper tool, application and so on.
I did an interview on Monday where the podcaster asked me how to make feeds "stickier". What he was actually asking was how to get readers more engaged with feed content: how can feeds be made more interactive? A lot of the thinking behind FeedFlare was that we needed a way to give publishers tools to increase the likelihood that readers would in fact engage. Clicking through to read a copy of the post they just read is unlikely to drive a lot of click activity. But clicking through to read the comments will. Bookmarking the post at del.icio.us will drive further activity, as will voting for the post at Digg. (And in those latter examples, they'll both increase secondary traffic growth, by building awareness of your content at those sites.) In other words, adding opportunities for the readers to do things other than just read a copy of the post goes a long way to increasing the probability that the readers will actually do something.
Too few publishers take advantage of the next logical step: building their own FeedFlare units to direct attention to other parts of the publisher's site. If you publish archives by category, why not give readers the ability to browse more articles like the one they just read by going to the category archive? Promoting an event? Do what the folks at TechPresident are doing and include a link to the event with every post:
That link gets seen by everyone subscribed to the feed, dramatically increasing the visibility of the Personal Democracy Forum event (disclosure: I'm speaking at PdF, and FeedBurner's a sponsor). Creating this FeedFlare takes less than five minutes, and it's then something you can share with anyone else who wants to support the event. (I won't go into all the variations here, but creating FeedFlares for fundraising, micro-sites for a specific function, etc., all make a ton of sense. You get the idea.) At this point, the feed is not just a way of distributing content, but is equally about driving awareness and delivering actions - just not all focused exclusively on the individual post.