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Innovative Business Use of RSS as a Technology
|Copyright 2005 Sharon Housley
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.comsoftware for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.neta wireless text messaging software company.
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