Copyright 2005 Richard Keir
RSS feeds and blogs (and blog and pinging) are part of latest hyper-frenzy in internet marketing. Tools and services are mushrooming all over. But there seem to be some rather distorted ideas about all this.
Unless you want to get into technical stuff, exactly what an RSS feed is doesn't really matter. Now I care because I use them for a lot of things, work with code and do geeky tech stuff. But from a marketing perspective underlying technical structure is only relevant because it clues us in on what to use an RSS feed for. And that's thing you have to understand.
An RSS marketing feed is not about feed's content in most cases. Feeds that carry large quantities of content are usually referred to as data feeds and that's not what people are going to put in their RSS aggregators. A basic RSS feed consists of a varied number of items with title, a link to full content source and a short extract or description from full source. There's more but that's basics.
If you subscribe (by email) to something like daily New York Times headlines, think about what a typical item looks like:
++++ Big deal thing happens somewhere ++++ By A Writer
++++ Once again an astonishing big deal thing has happened...
++++ Read Full Article: URL-link-to-news-story
Title and author - short description - link to full content
Just like an RSS feed item.
What should be obvious from this example is that RSS feeds are about change. New content. Updated information. They are not about static content.
The group you want to reach, people who surf via RSS, are looking for an efficient, fast way to identify new content that they are interested in. So if you're going to do an RSS feed, you need it to link to and report on new and updated content.
There are lots of tools available that will let you create your own feeds, manually or with varying degrees of automation. One of most popular means is by blogging. You really don't need any technical knowledge at all to set up a blog and produce a feed.
You can use a blog just as a feed generator. Basically this is what blog and ping software and services are doing. That kind of feed is not for people, it's for search engines. It's a way to alert SEs that a new site with un-indexed pages exists. Blogs used that way are not what I'm talking about here.