RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a new way to
broadcast corporate news and structured information. RSS offers
a quick, easy corporate communication channel. The RSS contents
are published as a feed and the feed's content keep customers, partners
and journalists abreast of corporate news and information. The RSS
feeds are read using a tool referred to as a news aggregator, or
an RSS reader. The aggregator periodically checks to see if the
RSS feed has been updated. As the feed is updated, new information
will automatically appear in the RSS reader.
While RSS was at one point only considered to be a
means to deliver news headlines, RSS has quickly become a powerful
medium to disseminate all kinds of information. As traditional marketers
are attempting to rein in content delivery, measuring e-mail open
rates, click-throughs and conversions, Internet users are fighting
to gain control over the content they receive. Savvy marketers and
business owners are using RSS as a way to improve corporate communication
and increase their external exposure and brand appeal.
What is the enclosure tag?
RSS 2.0 is quickly becoming the definitive RSS standard, all because
of its support for the enclosure tag. The enclosure tag is an optional
field in the RSS 2.0 specification that allows the feed publisher
to include a link to a file. The file can be just about anything.
Businesses have seized the opportunity, including tutorials, streaming
audio lectures, PDF proposals, Power Point™ presentations, podcasts
of sales meetings, and advertising portfolios among other traditional
uses for RSS.
Many businesses have yet to realize the potential
hidden in the enclosure field. The implications and power of how
RSS can be used is really awe-inspiring. Consider the following
business uses for RSS:
1. PDF Documents - Consider broadcasting
meeting agenda notes or documentation as a PDF included with a feed,
allowing interested individuals to access information without having
to deal with cumbersome e-mail attachments.
2. PPT Presentations - Presentations
can easily be distributed in a feed enclosure. The added benefit
is that presenters using Power Point™ will not have to lug their
notebook to a meeting to present - they can manage the presentation
from an iPod or similar handheld that reads RSS feeds.
3. Video - Video or streaming video
are both possible via the enclosure field. Have lectures or even
political debates come to life with the added video component.
4. Audio - Audio content does not mean
that feeds are limited to your favorite songs. Podcasting is the
coined term for audio content contained in a feed and can include
language instruction, talk shows or editorials.
5. Images - Imagine realtors using the
enclosure field to display photos of homes to interested buyers.
Now they can carry a light-weight catalog with them to show potential
buyers at a moment's notice.
6. Downloads - Consider an information
technology department in a large corporation conducting proprietary
software updates, including executables or zip files in the enclosure
field which allow users to update the software at a convenient time.
Feedreaders are playing catch- up
RSS news aggregators were initially designed to receive text-based
content. As users find outside-the-box uses for RSS, developers
of RSS readers are struggling to release new versions that support
the enclosures businesses are eager to use.
FeedDemon, a popular RSS reader, has recently added
support for every type of enclosure in their latest release. They
have created a safe list that can be customized to include specific
types of file types like PDFs. This will automate downloads of files
that are deemed "safe". This was clearly designed with security
in mind, to prevent automatic downloading of executables.
Businesses are revolutionizing RSS as a communication
medium. While some traditional businesses are struggling to include
monthly newsletter summaries in an RSS feed and reap the benefits
of RSS, other innovative businesses are adopting incredibly creative
uses for both internal and external corporate communications.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts.
In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net
a wireless text messaging software company.