Many people are talking about feed readers, syndicating content, blogs and other new age and “marketing 2.0” topics – but sometimes its hard to find a simple and easy definition of what is going on. This article will simply define and explain RSS for the everyday user! (don’t worry pictures are included)
This is also part of a larger series of articles called Marketing 2.0 101 in which we are introducing the latest and greatest technology all marketers should know about but do not. (Or possibly have heard about them but are too embarrassed to ask for help)
This article will help answer the following questions:
What is RSS?
What is really simply syndication?
Where can I find a simple explanation of RSS?
Where can I find an RSS tutorial?
RSS is an acronym that stands for Really Simple Syndication. It usually looks something like this:
Or you may have seen some things around the web that look like one of these:
They all basically do the same thing – allow you to read a websites content through of the company’s own “reader” format. (More explained below – but lets back up for a second)
So what can I use RSS for?
RSS can be used to save time and read all your favorite sites in one place. Stay notified when your favorite sites are updated. Keep informed about changes that occur in weather, stocks, email, friends, and anything else that changes dynamically. There are literally thousands of uses for RSS in everyday tasks.
The most important word in this acronym is the last word: “Syndication”
RSS can be defined as: A way to notify different websites and people without them having to actively check for it.
Ok, I have heard that before from my son, daughter, IT guy, geek friend – but I still don’t get it!
Well, lets break apart R – S – S and look at each piece.
The first two letters “R” and “S” are descriptors or a verb then an adjective that hope to prove how easy this topic really is: “Really” and “Simple”
(So far, in my experience, this 3 letter combo sounds like more techno-computer babble than anything that is “Really Simple“)
Next up the all important final “S” which stands for Syndication.
What is syndication?
Syndication is remembered by most marketers as; A method of selling a television program to local stations for re-broadcasting. Some examples of this include the reruns of Friends or Seinfeld that have been running for years on television, outside their original broadcast channel NBC.
Within RSS the word syndication can be defined as; the supply of information or content for simultaneous publication in several periodicals or web sites.
Much in the same way that Seinfeld originally aired on NBC then was rebroadcast on FOX – websites today are published at their respective web home, then are re-published elsewhere across the web.
RSS is literally syndicating website content for use outside its original publishing location or homepage.
I like to think of the new definition of Syndication to be a part of what is becoming Marketing 2.0 (one of the main reasons I started this blog)
Ok, thanks for the technical explanation but I am a much more visual person – how about some pictures please?
Sure! Below is a graphical example of what is happening. Imagine what happens after a movie gets “syndicated” over the airwaves to a cable channel. The movie starts out from the movie studio and gets broadcast to different stations – in this case Stars, HBO, and Direct TV. The movie can be watched on any channel – but it will always look the same. (or else people would be very upset as they would not be getting the same story or experience)
Step 1. Movie is created and enjoyed in its normal “movie theater” format
Step 2. Movie is distributed across different cable channels (“Syndication“)
Step 3. Results are always the same across different TV’s and stations!
Now imagine the same thing happening to your favorite website…
Step 1. Your favorite website as seen in any browser
Step 2. Content is “Fed” into different formats as described above
Step 3. That same content is displayed in your “feed reader”, mobile phone, PDA, laptop, offline display, etc…
The power of where the content could end up is endless! (this is a good and a bad thing…but we will cover that later)
So what does all this really mean for me and my businessinterests?
Well, imagine your normal web surfing day at your home or office in which you have your routine. (after you check email and get your work done of course!)
Most people have a lineup like the following:
4.www.marketing.fm (you read us everyday right?)
This means going to 4 different websites and collecting the information you want from each one. (Not hard your right) But imagine only going to 1 page that had all 3 pieces of information?
huh? how is that possible?
Well, each site allows its content to be re-distributed or syndicated to other areas via RSS (Really Simple Syndication)
To see this in action simply click here:
This is a free public example of the 4 sites described above showing the latest information and headlines for you to view at the same time. Now if you see something you like you can simply click the headline (or put your mouse over each headline) for more information. Each link will take you directly to the sites original content.
This is not the prettiest option, but I wanted to show the capabilities of RSS in a public workspace.
There are specific websites setup to handle your “subscriptions” to RSS “feeds” designed to be much more visually appealing and customized to your liking. This will be covered in an upcoming article – so lets get back to the basics.
As you can see RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is actually not that complicated one your break it down into smaller digestible pieces. The important thing is to realize that you are simply looking at content that was created elsewhere, and being kept up to date when new items or stories arrive.
I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to RSS. Below I have provided some links for what to do next. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask questions – and I will do my best to answer them. I will be following up this article based on the feedback you provide as well as an introduction on how to start using a “feed reader” and track news and topics of interest to you.
Intermediate RSS Resources:
Why Should Marketers be using RSS for themselves and Clients
What Marketers Need to Know about RSS
The Power of RSS
Thanks for making it this far!
[tags] what is rss, RSS, really simple syndication, RSS tutorial, tutorial, marketing 101, marketing.fm, advertising, marketing 2.0, advertising 2.0, explain RSS, really simple syndication for beginners [/tags]
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