Say What? RSS Feed

An RSS feed delivers regularly updated content from a website directly to you, through the device you choose. A user signs up to receive a feed to save time and mouse clicks – rather than having to go out to multiple sites for content, the content is delivered to them – like take-out Chinese food, without the fortune cookie.

We’ll explain how Feeds are used by users, and then provide steps for how your organization can provide delivery service for your audience.

Food Truck with "content" written on it

Delivery Trucks

There are multiple vehicles that will deliver a feed. They are typically called RSS news readers or feed readers. Readers can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile device-based. This means a single website that displays a list of all feeds a user subscribes to, a single email that aggregates multiple feeds into one message, or an app that organizes and displays feeds. The most well-known “delivery trucks” are iTunes podcast (desktop and mobile), or Feedly (mobile and web).

Placing an Order

To receive a feed, a user subscribes to it, like placing an order for recurring delivery. The feed reader does the rest, bringing content to the front door (inbox, mobile device, browser) when updates are made.

Typically feeds are organized by type: Audio, video, text. This allows a user to receive content in the format they prefer – listening to content can happen differently than reading content, ex: listening to an audio feed while driving to work, vs. reading a text-based feed while riding the metro.

Chinese food containers and RSS icon

Providing Delivery Service

RSS feeds provide a convenience factor and ensure that your audience is kept up to date. Knowing how RSS feeds work and why your audience would want this service gives your organization categories for determining the best way to provide this resource. You want to choose the delivery method that makes the most sense for the type of content you produce, and would improve the experience of your audience. Follow the steps below to create an effective RSS feed strategy:

  1. Determine what kind(s) of feed(s) to provide: Perhaps you have a blog, or regularly conduct interviews, or have a video series, maybe all three. Make a list of what feed type(s) you want to provide, based on the type of content you regularly update.
  2. We recommend using a feed management service such as Feedburner or RapidFeeds. Feed management services enable your users to choose what type of reader they want to use – whether that be iTunes, Feedly, or one of hundreds of other options. By providing a link to your feed(s) hosted on a management services, you allow a user to choose their preferred delivery service, and keep your website cleaner. Feed management services give you control in one place to customize all your feeds by setting the meta data, uploading images, etc.
  3. If you have an audio feed, iTunes is still the most recognizable platform for your users, so we recommend providing a link directly to your podcast on iTunes. Submitting the URL provided by RapidFeeds or Feedburner to iTunes to add your podcast means that if your website changes, you retain control over the feed.
  4. Choose the best way to display your RSS feed. If you have a single feed, the generic RSS icon is all that’s needed. If you provide multiple types of feed (audio, video, text, iTunes, etc) we recommend creating a landing page on your website where you can explain each type of feed and give a clear place for users to make their choice.

Providing a feed delivery service that is efficient and effective provides a better experience for your audience. But just like take-out food, the quality of your content is essential. Make sure what you are serving up is engaging, clear, and relevant, then find effective ways of getting it to your users. Contact us for help creating and delivering content that will keep your audience coming back for more.

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Claire values context, creativity, and joy. She uses these skills to help causes invest in the good of others.
October 8th, 2015 // // , ,
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