RSS is one of those technologies that until your try it out, you don’t really get your head round it.
It doesn’t help that no-one’s 100% sure what RSS means. I thought it meant “Really Simple Syndication” but then discovered some thought it stood for “Rich Site Summary”.
I was always told by web designers that we really ought to have a RSS feed on the site and would nod, agree and sign it off with only a partial understanding of what I’d signed up for.
Rather than write my own definition, let me defer to Seth Godin, the father of permission marketing:
“RSS is just a little peep, a signal, a ping that comes from a favorite blog or site, telling your computer that it has been updated. If you have an RSS reader (and they’re free and easy, and two of the easiest live on the web so you don’t even have to install anything), whenever a blog is updated, it shows up in your reader and you can catch up on the news. If there’s nothing new, it doesn’t show up and you don’t have to waste time surfing around.”
In a nutshell, you can kiss goodbye to all those email updates that you signed up for in your “I must stay on top of my craft” phase and now have no time to read in your “I’m frantically busy” phase.
It takes a little time to set up as you’ll choose an RSS reader (I’ve downloaded FeedDemon but if your IT department are like Orwell’s Thought Police and don’t let you download your own software, use a browser-based one like Google Reader) have to subscribe to feeds from all those sites that you’ve registered to, but once its up, there’s no more email to clog up your inbox and the information is so much easier to manipulate.
You can tag items that you want to keep for future reference with a relevant tag name (e.g. social media, twitter, direct mail etc) and set up watches for particular words, be they your own company, a competitor or a particular topic.
I’m a convert, and so are about 11% of the population. In fact, if you count the newsfeeds that are available on social media applications such as FaceBook, and with operating systems such as Vista etc, many more of us are using them than that.
And it’s an excellent low cost, no hassle support to your Content Generation strategy to get that content out there.
And did I mention there’s an RSS feed on this site too…