Why everyone should have an RSS feed or subscribe to one

Posted: November 28, 2008 in other
Tags: , ,

Why should you bother with an RSS feed?  Well, have you ever opted out of signing up for a mailing list to protect your personal information?  Or switched emails and lost all of your mailing list subscriptions?  What about if you are the author of an e-newsletter?  Ever try to manage that email list?  Or wonder what happens to those bounced addresses?
Enter RSS – Really Simple Syndication… or your ‘feed’.  I attempted to think of a clever analogy, but, like many things on the web, somebody else has already done it for me
What I haven’t seen is somebody telling me ‘the thing about RSS is…’
So, why’s it a big deal?
Because it makes sharing your updates EASY and RISK FREE.  By feeding your updates to an RSS feed, you simplify the process by which people can be notified that you have published new content.  Your RSS feed can also then automatically post to your Twitter account, your friendfeed account, your facebook account, your website, somebody else’s website and all of the eager people just waiting for your next update!  And don’t forget, the subscriber does not need to give away any of his/her personal information or worry about losing the subscription if their email changes and can very easily unsubscribe if they no longer want to be a part of the list.  All with no management needed from you beyond providing your spectular content.
ABC Ltd. from Calgary sends news releases across the wire on a fairly regular basis.  Every news release also needs to be up on the website as closely as possible to when the release crosses the wire to satisfy some disclosure objectives.  The company’s webmaster must then sit and wait to push the ‘publish’ button to ensure the release is posted after receiving confirmation from their news distributor that it has indeed crossed the wire into the land of general public information.  Or, ABC Ltd.’s communications person must sit there and wait because the webmaster brought in a content management system (CMS) so he/she did not have to sit there and wait.
Had ABC Ltd. integrated an RSS feed onto their website from the release, there would be no need for the webmaster or the communications person to sit there and push the button to publish.  While the two of them head out for coffee after confirming a time for the release to go public, the release crosses the wire and BAM!  It’s automatically posted to the site and nobody lifted a finger.
Sound too good to be true?  It’s not.  It’s really that simple.
Mr. X from Edmonton owns an organic grocery store and publishes an e-newsletter every week about nutrition.  The e-newsletter also includes some instore specials.  Mr. X would like to start running some daily specials and nutritional tips for his customers, but he is worried about inundating their emails with short messages and updates that frequently.  He saw a piece on the news last week about how people are turning to blogs to publish daily content and decided he would like to try one for himself.  Lucky for Mr. X, most blogs (such as this WordPress one) come standard with an RSS feed.  Mr. X started promoting the extra daily specials that were on the blog through the e-newsletter and in the store.  Soon, he was seeing his regular customers even more regularly as they came in to take note of the special deals.
Suzy Cue has worked at the same company for the last 5 years.  Over those 5 years, she’s built up a very useful listing of information and news that is emailed to her on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  Last week, Suzy got a call from a head hunter with an amazing position that she just couldn’t say no to.  With only 2 weeks notice to give, Suzy had to tie up all of her loose ends… and quickly!  In her haste, she forgot about all of the useful pieces she relies on to keep her up to date.  When she gets to her new job, she regrets not having kept a better record!  Suzy starts to make her list of items she had been subscribed to.  But as she’s visiting each website again, she’s noticing they all have this strange little orange graphic.  Suzy clicks on one and discovers the RSS feed… she is now equipped to take her subscriptions with her.
RSS Highlights
1.  Ease of updates of information to your latest published content – it saves your customer time and helps keep you front of mind.
2.  Security and privacy of your customer’s information – no need to manage their information or for them to worry about it being sold to a 3rd party.
3.  Publishing of your updates across multiple platforms – your content reach can travel much farther through each person’s online network.
And yes.  It really is that simple.

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