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-
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
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.