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RSS is a Double Edge Sword

Posted by Carl E. Reid Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) technology is a sleeper that is slowly creeping into the mainstream. There are plenty of articles on implementing RSS Technology. The question that still begs to be answered is "what's in it for me or my organization to implement RSS?".

The convergence of RSS technology with web logs or web sites is a powerful double edge sword for increasing market share. OK, profits increase too.

One Side of the Sword
The reason is fairly simple. RSS is a free and easy way to promote a web site or web log without the need to advertise or create complicated content sharing partnerships. Whenever your web log/site is updated, people are automatically notified of new content posted. This creates a "stickiness" effect for people to continously come back to your web site.

There are 2 caveats for making RSS technology work effectively. First, people must have their RSS reader tuned into your web log/site. Then they receive automatic update notifications. Secondly, your web site/log must be updated regularly. Something as simple as weekly updates to the "frequently asked questions" section of your web site is a good start.

RSS "enabled" Web logs/sites are indentified with little icon logos that contain XML, RSS or simply say Syndicate this site. This allows a person to right mouse click on the XML icon > select Copy short cut > and then add the web log/site to their RSS reader. Now the RSS reader is tuned in to that particular channel; your web site or web log.

RSS technology can even position Non-profit organizations to potentially increase funding by 1)attracting donation sponsors or 2)getting more referrals to increase clients served. Having a RSS enabled web site or web log can make this possible. Google lends a hand, with getting the word out about services provided by a non-profit, through its Google Grants Program .

The other side - Practical Application of RSS
One of several profit centers my business partner develops is event planning. So she tunes her RSS reader into various web sites that post marketing and event opportunities. With timely automatic notifications from the RSS reader, she saves time by not having to constantly visit those sites, until new opportunities are posted. Using the RSS reader has been very profitable for her. It allows her to beat competitors to the punch in contacting potential clients first. The RSS reader acts like a radar system.

As a consultant who focuses on client relationship management (CRM) to maintain or acquire clients, my RSS reader has been an invaluable tool. Depending on what type of industry a [potential] client is in, I tune my RSS reader to various web site channels. This allows me to quickly send clients timely informational articles that may impact their business. This good will effort has paid big dividends in client satisfaction and CRM trust, not to mention quite a few profitable referrals.

Other RSS reader applications could include receiving immediate updates on legal or regulatory requirements. News items are currently the biggest applications being used by RSS readers. Customers and employees can receive simultaneous updates on special company offerings. Customer service improves when employees can more intelligently answer customer inquiries, because they both receive the same information.

Although RSS definitely throws a monkey wrench into email spam, it is not meant to replace email. The monkey wrench is allowing people the freedom to choose which sites to tune their RSS reader. Unlike spam, RSS allows people to volunteer to be a captured audience. They opt-in or opt out, at will. When people unsubscribe to spam, there is not always a guarantee their email address is actually deleted from the mailing list.

Want to Test Drive Some Free RSS Readers?
Mozzilla's Thunderbird - This is a cutting edge program that combines email with an RSS reader.

RSS Reader - I use this RSS reader, because it uses low PC memory overhead and provides nearly unobtrusive news feeds. It also probes news feed web sites that require a password login.

Pluck - This RSS reader integrates with a web browser, like Internet Explorer. Allows creation of Perches (persistent searches) to continuously look for items on eBay, Amazon, Google or 5,000+ other web sources.

For those interested in using RSS technology to quickly increase market share, I recommend reading Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants: Breakthrough Tactics for Winning Profitable Clients by Jay Conrad Levinson

P.S. - Don't forget to add iTechSpeak to your RSS reader
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2 comments

  1. John Dilbeck Says:
  2. Hi C.E.,

    I saw your link on the Localendar.com forum so I came over here to read your article.

    Well done.

    I'm on the board of a couple of nonprofits and I was unaware of the Google Grants program -- thanks for the heads-up!

    I like your writing style, so I've added you to my blogroll at blogrolling.com.

    All the best,

    JD

     
  3. Great article. Well put -- and succinctly.

    Do you have any information on how far into the mainstream RSS has crept? I have a couple of blogs (with RSS, actually ATOM, feeds) that get viewed 40-80 times a day (impressions). I think it's growing, and I have a suspicion that the timing of my posts affects viewership. Do you know anything about good times to post, how services like Technorati pick up posts and so forth? I've registered my atom.xml files with Technorati, but I only sporadically see my posts show up in my reader (with the right key words). I place technorati tags into my posts, too.

    Also, do you know how to discern how many people have added your feed to their Yahoo page, for example?

    One thing I notice about RSS that's kind of clunky (I'm using FeedReader) is that there are too many steps to go from an RSS news item feed to the originator's actual blog. If I click on your "home" link, for example, in this article, your main blog opens in FeedReader. I can right click/properties and copy the link into a browser, but that's too many steps. I want to do some things in a regular browser, like email your link to a friend, bookmark it, etc. Does RSS Reader work any better?

    I added your blog to my Bloglines list.

     

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