I’ve noticed, in the few months that I’ve been blogging, that most bloggers assume that everyone knows about blogs, feeds and RSS. I don’t buy it. Maybe in the IT and computer industry this stuff is second nature, but in my circle of associates and clients – relatively few people know about it or get it.
This post if for any of you who are new to blogging or who have not figured out what this "feeds" and "RSS" business is all about. Get ready, because this could change your life and business.
I’m sure you’ve realized that the web is a giant, untapped resource. There’s information out there about your business, your customers, your competitors, and your interests. The thing is – you don’t have time to spend all day surfing – searching – googling until your eyes cross. That’s where feeds and RSS come to the rescue.
RSS (Real Simple Syndication) and Feeds are like computer generated press releases. When I post this to my blog, the RSS feed will immediately go out and "feed" my post to the web. Imagine millions of little data bytes dressed like newpaper boys running around to the servers of the world yelling, "Hurry! Hurry! Read all about it! Tom Vander Well just wrote a new post at QAQNA.com about Customer Service!" It’s this RSS process that news services use to get the word out about the latest news item.
Now, why should you care?
You can quickly, easily distribute your thoughts and information around the world with a click of your mouse. Blogging is the easiest way to start the process. There are free, easy to use tools like Blogger where you could be up and posting to the web in a couple of minutes. Create a blog, write a post and publish it. Once you’ve created your blog and you’re posting, you can go to a free service like Feedburner and enter your blog’s url address to find all sorts of tools to help make your "feed" more powerful, effective and easy for others to find you.
You can learn to listen to feeds and have the information you want delivered right to your desktop. So picture it, you have all these little bytes of data like newsies on the internet running around telling the world that Tom Vander Well just posted about Customer Service at QAQNA.com. You’re interested, so you yell "Hey, Kid! Over here! I’m interested in Customer Service – bring Tom’s post over here!" Great, but you don’t have all day to sit there and listen for the next newsie screaming about customer service. RSS/Feeds allow you to hang a sign up on your internet door saying "Customer Service." Now whenever a newsie has a blog post, a press release, a news article about Customer Service they’ll just stop in and deliver it. Pick whatever keyword, company name, or url you want. You can hang signs with the name of your company to find out what others are saying about you. The possibilities are endless and the results can be powerful.
In order to "hang a sign out" (in other words, listen for RSS Feeds) you’ll need a "Feed Reader." There are all sorts of them out there. It’s a small piece of free software (there are also web based feed readers) that will allow you to receive the feeds you are interested in. I personally use SharpReader, but you can do a Google search for "feed reader" or "RSS aggregators" and find others. After installing the software and opening the program, you simply tell the feed reader what you’re interested in. You can type http://www.qaqna.com/ in the address bar and hit enter. All of my posts should appear because you told the feed reader to listen for all of the newsies carrying posts from my address. Now simply hit the "subscribe" button and, voila, you never have to go out to my blog again to see if I’ve written a new post. The post is delivered right to you. In fact, with SharpReader you’ll get a little window that will pop-up for a second or two on your desktop with the title of my post. Within seconds of me publishing my post – you’ll know it. Now that’s cool!
Imagine being the first one in your company to learn that hot piece of information about a competitor. Imagine learning from the knowledge and experience of others in your field without ever leaving your desk and without paying outrageous registration fees at the business conference. This is good stuff.
Let me know when you’ve started your blog. I’ll hang up a sign with your blog address so your posts will be delivered to my desktop!
Here are some other great resources about RSS and Feeds:
- Blogging guru, Mike Sansone, tells you how to search once and subscribe.
- If you haven’t already checked out the link on my side bar, read Brian Clark’s information What the Heck is RSS (and why should I care?)
- Mark True had a nice post about how monitoring blogs has been revolutionary for him and his business, and what he uses to do so.
For those vets out there who are reading this, how about some help? Do you have resources or links that would be helpful to the newbie blogger or clueless reader? Post a comment and share the link love.
Flickr photo courtesy of Emily DePrang