The growing acceptance of RSS news feeds as a communications medium provides companies with a new way to reach potential customers, promote products and services, and increase overall company visibility. RSS leverages the power of the Internet to enable companies to communicate more effectively with each of its specific audiences, from customers, partners, and employees to editors, analysts, and investors.
In addition RSS can provide high tech startups with a direct link to the digerati, the most influential audience segment, and the one that can help your company grow the fastest. Whether read on their PC, PDA, or cell phone these key influencers rely on RSS everyday to catch up on technology trends and important new developments.
RSS is quickly entering the mainstream. Today, many of the largest, most established publishers such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and Fortune provide news in RSS format. Others will surely follow. In the corporate world, many companies have already discovered that effective use of RSS can improve a company’s search engine rankings and generate traffic.
What is RSS?
Depending on whom you ask, RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary". But all you need to know is that a RSS feed is a way of distributing or "syndicating" content from your site so that it can be viewed by anyone with an RSS reader. RSS readers work in real-time all-the-time, delivering fresh content as soon as it is posted. The latest Web browsers include RSS readers, making it even easier to catch up on topics of interest.
Pretty much any piece of content can be sent out via RSS news-feeds. Whether it is a press release, blog post, or the latest software rev, RSS is a great way to deliver the most timely information to the people who need it the most. A podcast which delivers audio content to an .MP3 player like the Apple iPod or a videocast which brings video content to a cell-phone are other examples of applications of RSS. In terms of content deliver, “RSS fees allow companies to deliver media rich messages that make content more attractive and powerful,” says RSS expert Rok Hrastnik.
RSS is a Pull Medium, where TV, Radio and Newspapers are Push
RSS is a "pull" medium. Readers must elect to receive or pull in specific content via a RSS reader. For a company this might mean sending out press releases to those editors or customers who’ve expressed an interest in specific product or technology.
By comparison today's more traditional media (television, newspapers, radio) are good examples of “push” media where the same information is broadcast or “pushed” out to many readers, irrespective of their specific interests. While the concept of this new “pull” media may sound pretty threatening to some companies, its strength lies in the very granting of permission of those who choose to receive it. Those who elect to pull in your content are going to be the ones who really want to read it, and there is great power in that.
Internal uses of RSS feeds
We’ve seen how RSS can be useful applications directed at customers but RSS can also play a role in communicating information to your own employees as well. RSS can be used for everything you now use email for, from sending out company-wide announcements to tracking competitive intelligence on another vendor. RSS is especially timely and effective when it comes to delivering more targeted information. A project team, for example, might use an internal blog to keep everyone on the team up-to-date and use RSS to alert members when new information has been added. A distributor can use RSS feeds to bring a vendors news directly into its own site, as can a smaller division within a larger company. Company bloggers can use RSS to alert readers, both in and outside of the corporate firewall, to new posts, and communications departments can use RSS feeds to deliver very specific news to very specific readers.
By integrating and aggregating multiple news-feeds within a corporate portal, employees can be provided with a central place to keep up on the activities of competitors, follow industry news, and learn immediately when your company or its products are mentioned in the media.
RSS is a great way to prime the pump and deliver information to the many different audiences that can benefit your company. It is perhaps the most effective way yet to leverage the vast reach of the Internet, by putting the right information in the right hands at the right time. Whether, it serves as an external means of promoting your company and its products and services, or as part of your internal efforts to make your employees more knowledgeable and more productive, RSS should be a part of your marketing communications efforts.
In short this simple tool with the funny sounding name, is just what you need to improve your company’s content deliver, increase your online visibility and search engine rankings, and generate more traffic.