How to Make RSS Feed Work for Your Business

Monday, August 16, 2010

If you are a seller with a Facebook account, or a website/blog of your own to start with ... then you should read on ...

Frankly I have not seen much of RSS Feed flying around in sellers’ Facebook walls, e-commerce websites nor blogshops, possibly due to the failure of realizing the potential of RSS in boosting businesses, hence the reason why I choose to highlight this valuable viral marketing tool. Don’t worry, I will not go into the technical aspects of RSS as this article is intended for sellers, not developers.

Understanding the RSS Feed

RSS is a simple & efficient way for any web user to subscribe to any latest content of any website e.g. news articles, blog posts, photos or videos, without having to visit the website itself. This has become especially useful now that the internet is flooded with loads of content-driven websites and visiting each website to find out the latest updates can be wearying. Subscribing to e-mails may not be the best answer either as too many e-mail notifications spells 'messy inbox' and such e-mails can often be mistaken as spam/unwanted e-mails.

Here's where RSS Feed solves the problem …

With RSS Feed, web users can subscribe content from multiple websites and display them in their own ‘space’ such as their Facebook walls, their blogs, feed reader sites e.g. Bloglines, My Yahoo! or Google Reader or even their browser e.g. Mozilla Firefox and the Internet Explorer 7. So all your favorite goodies can now be fed to you in one place instead of you going around the cyber space, wasting time looking for what may and may not be important to you!

Depending on the limitations set by the feed reader applications, subscribers normally can choose the number of items to be displayed, full description or excerpt, with optional publishing date, author, image, etc. Each feed item carries a link to the source website so one can go straight to the topic/item of interest.

The magic works like this – A website hosting the content should first have a system that converts its content e.g. news articles, into a standard format for the RSS reader. This content is supplied to a subscriber in a form of a URL (commonly identified by the label "RSS Feed" and the RSS icon . By simply inputting this URL into an RSS Feed reader, the website content can now be 'magically' displayed & best of all, constantly updated for the subscriber.

Sample RSS Feed URL (try clicking on the links):

For New Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs & even My1Stop Virtual Shopping Mall e-stores, the ‘recent content’ conversion to RSS Feed format has already been provided to its users for free. If you have your own website developed by a web design company or a freelancer, and your site does not have its own RSS Feed, you can either set up your own account in any of the above New Media sites for free and later have your web developer include your Feed and its URL in your website for others to subscribe, or get them to create your site’s own RSS system & URL, which may cost you some money but give you greater flexibility as to what exactly to convert to Feed.

How is RSS Feed Useful to a Seller

In a retailing environment, RSS feed serves as a viral marketing tool in that it delivers your content to a naturally growing network, like a spreading virus. For instance, a company/seller with a store at My1Stop Virtual Shopping Mall only has to maintain his/her catalog by uploading new products/services & edit or remove the items when necessary. Customers can view a realtime updated catalog of the store straight from their ‘space’ by using the store’s RSS Feed URL with any web RSS Feed reader application as mentioned previously, without having the seller to send repetitive notifications of new items added. Whenever a customer clicks on any link in the feed, he/she will be taken straight to the item in the e-store for more information about the item, to place an order or purchase it online. This, is making RSS Feed work for you!

And you haven’t even got to the best part yet …

The best part of it is when not just one, two, but unlimited other web users, beyond your own network who may find your content worth following, subscribe to your Feed. These other subscribers, whether you know them personally or not, voluntarily display your dynamically updated content viewable by their own network, generating more potential customers for you. This is viral marketing potential normally provided free for you, yet often ignored.

How to Start Using RSS Feed for Viral Marketing

To display a website’s feed on the Facebook Wall/Profile, all one has to do is add an RSS application as a new Facebook application e.g. Social RSS or RSS Graffiti, key in the RSS Feed URL and select preferred publish settings. You can have multiple Feeds displayed as one feed collection by entering several RSS Feed URLs into the RSS application.

With Social RSS, the content from the feed appears as a tab on the Facebook Wall and can be set to be displayed in the News Feed everytime a new content is added. For those familiar with Facebook, you know well that this means that your hundreds to thousands of Facebook friends and even their friends (subject to privacy settings), can view this content too, not just by visiting your Profile, but simply by clicking ‘Home’. The trick is to get many LIKEs or comments for a post and it gets ‘sticky’ and stay on the Home page longer in the ‘Top News’ section.

If you have a blog, you can easily display any website’s feed by adding an RSS gadget/widget to your blog and similarly enter the RSS Feed URL – add multiple widgets to display multiple feeds. Sorry, Blogger does not support images in the feed items. Since blogs are networked to one another in many ways, using RSS Feed in a blog still gives you viral marketing. In fact, it is advantageous to both the blogger and the Feed author as the Feed content can also be crawled by search engines and has been shown to have contributed to the blogs keywords, which in turn gives the blog higher chances at being listed in search results.

To display RSS Feed in your browser, you just have to click any RSS Feed URL and follow the steps shown by your browser. With Mozilla Firefox, you can display any feed on your bookmark tab using Live Bookmarks application.

In a nutshell …

RSS Feed is a way for web users to have their own ‘personalized daily digest’ – updated news column, business tips, catalog, gossip segment … you name it. It is a great way to aggregate & organize the massive amount of content from the web, tailored to one’s interest.

To a seller, RSS can be an effective & efficient tool for expanding business to a wider market at least cost & effort. It is a (normally) free method to encourage others to subscribe to your latest content e.g. catalog, promotions, etc. and to enable sharing of your updated content from one network to another beyond your normal reach. It is about using the New Media to its full potential & doing business online wisely. This in no way suggests that you ignore other marketing strategies, but merely as an addition to your multitude of efforts in boosting your business – an addition, that if disregarded shall leave you in a loss ;)

1 comment

  1. Thanks for u r information

    its very useful





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