Using RSS to your advantage

One of the things we like to recommend to clients is syndicating their content via RSS.  Now, most of the time, this causes you to look at us like we just grew a second head.  So I wanted to create this post to give you a little insight into RSS and the many ways you can use it.  It may sound confusing if you’ve never dealt with it before, but RSS is a simple way to get your message out.  When we say simple, we mean it.  RSS is actually an acronym for (drum-roll please): Really Simple Syndication.

Basically what RSS does is take your content, whether it be blog posts, property listings, vacation packages or {insert your niche here}, and make it accessible to both individuals with RSS readers as well as services that aggregate your content with others.  If you are wanting to syndicate anything other than blog content, it might take some custom development, but <shamelessplug>it just so happens we are experts at this and can have you up and running in no time.</shamelessplug>

Since we are on the subject, here are some interesting uses for RSS feeds we have created for our clients:

    1. Delivering Documents To Customers
      With everyone worrying about phishing scams or viruses, placing company documents such as PDFs into an RSS feed is one way to deliver them to your clients while eliminating their fears.  RSS feeds are much more difficult to spoof than an e-mail address, and most of the time their browser or feed reader will downlaod and scan the document automatically.
    2. Share your video and Media                                                                                     This method, usually referred to as “podcasting”, is still underutilized.  For practically nothing, you can record, edit and publish your audio and video content.  Couple that with the power of RSS and you can find yourself with an almost instant fan base.  Gone are the days of sending out emails to people inviting them to watch your latest video – announce it to them automatically.  Plus, if you happen to have your feed submitted to the iTunes store, subscribers will automatically download your latest content onto their iPods, iPhones and iPad.
    3. Publishing and Promoting Specials or Promotions
      Most businesses at some point offer specials or promotions to their clients.  What’s an easier way to offer them than in an automated feed?  Truth be known, many sites simply take an RSS feed and republish it to create new content on their own sites.  If yours happens to be in the list, then your promotion gets syndicated all over the internet.
    4. Posting Job Opportunities                                                                                             With everyone concerned about the economy, the job market has gotten smart. Gone are the days when folks depend on the local paper.. In fact, even the larger job sites are losing steam against folks googling a phrase such as “administrative assistant jobs in Florida”.  Again, thanks to the folks that download and aggregate that content, your chances of that job posting being found go up endlessly.
    5. Publishing Status Updates                                                                                          This may not apply to you unless you run a software-as-a-service type company, but it works really well.  Basically if others depend on your product or service, an RSS feed is a great way to alert folks when you have problems.  (and trust me, EVERY company has problems from time to time – don’t kid yourself).   It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – in fact, I like and recommend the simple approach taken by 37Signals (makers of Basecamp, the program we use to manage projects) which you can see here.

These are just few ways that you can expand your business by using RSS feeds..  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you can think of any ideas for promoting your business using this time-tested technology, please contact us.  No idea is too crazy or far fetched.  (Actually the crazy and far-fetched ideas are usually the most effective!

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About the Author

Though his chief ambition is to one day control the entire Internet, Jim busies himself in the meantime running our little web development and marketing agency. He's a certified super nerd who ranks coding in old, outdated languages and watching Star Trek reruns just a bit too high on his list of fun things to do. Outside of work, Jim enjoys Hockey (Tampa Bay Lighning, to be specific), more genres of music than most people realize exist, riding his Harley (he calls it "two wheel therapy") and exploring the world through travel.