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Do you RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and has been around since the turn of the century. Yet one of the most commonly asked questions is "What is RSS?". In plain English, it's a way for you to view content that's supplied by a website without having to actually visit that site. Imagine getting your newspapers on your doorstep every morning. In the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, you've caught up on news, weather, sports and perhaps the latest trends in your industry. Well, RSS allows the same thing in the form of a feed reader (also known as an aggregator). This feed reader allows you to "subscribe" to any of the gazillions of feeds that are offered up wherever you see that little orange icon. The act of subscribing isn't like it was in the "old days" where you gave your email address to sign up for their e-newsletter. Instead, it's simply done by adding a link to your feed reader.

When you see that little icon, it's saying "Hey, here is a stream of information that you might like to read in the comfort of your own feed reader, without having to come back to this website." Once you click on the icon, you'll be instructed as to how to add it to your reader. Follow the instructions and Voilà! it's magically in your reader. Keep adding feeds that interest you and eventually you'll have a bunch of feeds all in one central place. Now you can wake up, drink your cup of coffee and check out all the latest headlines in your reader. If something catches your eye and you want more info, just click on it and it will take you to the website to read the full article. And the most handy feature is that the reader keeps track of which ones you read. So you'll be able to see when there are new headlines and won't mistakenly read the same one twice.

So how do you find a feed reader? That's easy too. There are tons of free readers available, which can be found by doing a quick search for "free RSS feed readers". For gmail users, Google offers the free Google Reader. Another free reader is built into the Thunderbird email client. You can even add feeds to Outlook for free. Once you get comfortable with these free readers, you might feel adventurous and purchase a reader with more bells and whistles. But you'd be surprised what you can do with the free software out there.

Ok. That's RSS from a reader's point of view. But what about the content provider? In other words, how can your business benefit from supplying content via RSS? Every company has something that somebody wants. It might be products, real estate, advice...you name it. Once you've figured out what it is you want to offer, create a feed on your website. Most sites offer this type of functionality. If yours doesn't, contact JellyNeck Solutions to inquire about a site that does. As an example, let's say that you sell products on your website and somebody subscribes to your products feed. The next time they check their reader, your products will be there. And when you add new products, they'll also show up as "unread" (similar to new emails in your inbox). If they are interested, they'll click on the product and be taken to your site where they can get details and make a purchase. Once they're on your site, it's up to you to make a sale. But the point is that you can put your brand, products, news, advice, etc in front of your customers without interrupting their busy schedule. The fact that it's the customer reaching out to you means it's far less intrusive than sending out an e-newsletter to them. This is the biggest way that RSS feeds differ from e-newsletters. With RSS, they come to you instead of the other way around.

Alright! Now that you have a bit of a background on how it works and how it can benefit your business and/or personal life, go out there and get started! Do you RSS?

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