Real Simple Syndication (RSS) is a communications tool that media, analysts, search engines and companies use to distribute information, with very different benefits for both sender and receiver. Part one focuses on receiving feeds.
Any content can be distributed via RSS feeds – news, features, company newsletters, online auction updates, etc. Feeds are flexible. Do you want a feed from an individual reporter/analyst, headlines from CNN, collective updates on a specific topic from several sources, company newsletters but no sales material, blogs, podcasts, etc.?
Cleaner Than Email
RSS allows you to select the content you want to receive, from whom and never worry about your contact information being distributed, sold or otherwise mistreated. In fact, you never give up ANY contact information by choosing to receive an RSS feed. Feed readers integrate with Web browsers so message formatting is never an issue (you don’t have to specify HTML or TEXT). Readers allow you to view all updates from any feed within a day, week or month. RSS feeds are virus and spyware free.
More Efficient Than Google
Monitoring for news and information via RSS aggregators allows you to choose the content provider(s) and avoid the ‘false positives’ of a general Google search. In fact, Google offers its news content via RSS. You determine the relevance of content delivered to your feed reader and avoid relying on how well a Website has optimized in order to receive valuable information. Feed readers can tame blog monitoring by categorizing and simplifying blog feeds (rather than the mess Google returns).
Signing Up and Viewing a Feed
As a Website pushes content out to you as an RSS feed, you need a feed reader to translate the HTML code into English. Readers are available as free (Pluck, NewsGator, Feedreader, Google Reader) or paid software downloads. All readers will integrate with any web browser and some will integrate directly into your email application. Once you’ve chosen a reader, collecting feeds is as easy as a click of the mouse. Websites that offer feeds are designated by RSS, XML, or ATOM buttons (examples from Business Week and CMO magazine). Click the feed you want and it will automatically be connected to your feed reader.