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Innovative Business Use of RSS as a Technology
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
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
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
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
a wireless text messaging software company.
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