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    RSS Series from Better Business BloggingIn the first part of this series “What is RSS all about then?“, I tried to give an overview of what RSS is, from a layman’s point of view if you like. Here, in the second part, it’s time to move on to looking at some of the ways in which RSS can be used by businesses, bloggers and publishers in general.

    General RSS Benefits for all

    For me, RSS is very much a Clark Kent figure – not particularly impressive on the outside but lots of hidden “super powers” underneath. Am I overstating that a little? Well you decide. To start, let’s have a quick run through of some of the elements that RSS can do for the information you publish in your business or blog:

    i) Instant Publishing and Automatic distribution
    As you publish new posts and information on your blog, RSS publishes them automatically on any additional sites that have decided to syndicate your content. This allows you to concentrate on the quality of your content and lets your RSS feed distribute it for you to all the places and people who have requested it, automatically and instantly.

    ii) Direct guaranteed delivery to subscribers
    You can be safe in the knowledge that your subscribers will receive the information that you are providing without worrying whether some overzealous spam filter might have intercepted and binned it.

    iii) Targeted content delivery
    There is no need to just offer a single RSS feed – instead you can break down your content into different areas so that people can choose to receive the targeted content they prefer. If you use WordPress, you can do this with the categories, each of which generates its own RSS feed automatically which you can offer to your subscribers.

    (more…)
    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    RSS Series from Better Business BloggingTo most, RSS is not going to appear to be the most exciting tool in the social media box – it’s not coming out in video any time soon, can’t rival podcasts in the audio department, doesn’t seem to interact with anything and, all in all, comes across like someone who’d prefer to sit in the corner at parties rather than get out there and mix.

    True, but only half the story. In fact, it seems to me that RSS is in need of a good PR agent.

    Well, I’m no PR Guru, but I’m going to try to show with a series of posts over the next week, how RSS is an immensely powerful tool which can be used in any number of exciting (yes, exciting) and useful ways, whether you are looking at it from a user’s or a publisher’s point of view.

    The posts will be looking at:

    1. RSS - An Introduction: So, what is RSS all about then?
    2. RSS Benefits for businesses, bloggers and publishers
    3. Benefits of RSS for users & subscribers
    4. Marketing with RSS
    5. Using Feedburner to optimise your RSS
    6. Ways to increase your RSS subscribers

    So subscribe to my RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss anything ;) and if you don’t know what I mean by that then the first part of the series will be right up your street!

    RSS card: RSS will surprise you!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    RSS is a key element of blogs and for their successful use in business it is also one of the 5 Rs that I consider to be key to business blogging. This is primarily because of the enormous benefits of what is effectively an instant and very efficient method of distributing information, as well as a great marketing tool.

    For publishers, RSS should really have a similar importance as an newsletter sign up box because it gives you the same opportunity to communicate with people who have expressed an interest in what you have to offer. The added benefit is of course that you have an assured method of delivery which is not hampered by email filters and the like.

    If gaining loyal readers (and hence subscribers) to your blog is important – and let’s face it, it is to 95% of business bloggers – then it’s important to consider where it appears on your blog design. Higher up the screen and certainly above the fold is clearly going to be better, though this needs to be balanced with the other elements that you wish to promote – however, if RSS subscriptions is a key aim, then get that up at the top, big and bold.

    Remember that there is also no need to restrict yourself to a single feed – if you are writing material which is has very distinct areas, then use the capability to set up an RSS feed for each category and promote them individually. Let your readers decide which parts they want to receive, they’ll appreciate that more than having to filter out the elements they want, particularly if you are a prolific writer.

    Other things that you should consider to encourage signups from your blog are:

    • Use Feedburner to optimise your RSS usage: I’m a great fan of Feedburner because they offer a number of services which allow you to increase the usability and marketing potential of your RSS Feed – I outline some of those in this post about Feedburner.Give yourself the best chance of using RSS - sign up to Feedburner.

    • Use a Giveaway to encourage Subscriptions: Taking a leaf out of email subscription good practice, use a giveaway to encourage sign ups to your RSS feed. Its sensible and it works! How to do it though? Well, using Feedburner, you can create a custom FeedFlare which links back to a download page on your site. Still unsure? contact me here!
    • Email subscription to RSS: even for readers who are not familiar with RSS, you can make sure that they can still benefit from the instant access that RSS offers by offering them a subscription via email. There are 3rd party services which allow you to do this such as Feedblitz or the email subscription service from Feedburner.
    • Link from each post: to cater for readers who arrive at your posts directly, encourage readers at the bottom of each post to sign up for the RSS feed. This can be done directly, or if you are a WordPress user, this can be done through a plugin such as Subscribe Remind.
    • Highlight Feed Readers: you may like to consider using the little chicklets highlighting the different Feed readers that people could be using to receive your feed. Don’t go overboard (there are more important things you can have in your sidebar) but you could benefit from using some.

    One final thing to reiterate is that promoting your RSS in your blog design is no good without the content behind it – it is easy to unsubscribe so that puts the onus on you, the writer, to make sure you give content that they’ll want to come back to read. The inimitable Hugh McLeod summed this up beautifully in one of his cartoons, which is what I leave you with.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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