The Future of RSS is Not Blogs
Copyright 2005 Sharon Housley
Blogs vaulted RSS into the limelight but are unlikely to be the force that sustains RSS as a communication medium. The biggest opportunities for RSS are not in the blogosphere but as a corporate communication channel.
Even now, businesses that were initially reluctantly evaluating RSS are beginning to realize the power and benefit of the RSS information avenue. The inherent capacity for consumers to select the content they wish to receive will be the driving mechanism for keeping advertisements to a minimum and content quality consistent.
Like the Internet when it first started, blogs were emboldened by the "cool factor". As the novelty of being new and cool wears off, Internet webmasters and bloggers alike are realizing that maintaining a website or blog is time-consuming. "Coolness" often wears off if a channel is not monetized. With the ease of blogging and the array of blogs available, only a handful will be able to sustain fresh, constant, unique content and generate any sort of reasonable or significant revenue. As a result, blogs as we know them today will fade into the background, with many blogs being abandoned.
RSS, being a tool that saves Internet surfers time and allows webmasters to re-purpose and re-package existing and new content will, in my opinion, continue to thrive. A business effectively using RSS can bring new site visitors, increase search engine positioning, and generate product interest. The flexibility of RSS as a communication medium and the expansion capabilities of the enclosure tag will allow RSS to flourish as an online marketing tool. Each day businesses are adopting new uses for RSS, and users are becoming accustomed to skimming content that they choose in a single centralized location.
As businesses adopt RSS and consumers experiment with feeds, the popularity of RSS will grow. Ultimately, consumers are the driving force behind technology. The convenience of RSS and increased popularity will set a precedent for consumer expectations. Businesses using RSS as a communication vehicle are able to create keyword-rich, themed content, establishing trust, reputation, and ongoing communication with current and prospective customers.
The big consumer benefit to RSS is that consumers opt-in to content of interest, totally controlling the flow of information they receive. If the quality of the content in the feed declines, users simply remove the feed from their RSS reader and they will not receive any additional updates from that source. The RSS reader acts as an aggregator, allowing users to view and scan multiple content streams in a timely fashion.
Consumer expectation will drive businesses that are slow to adopt. Ultimately, RSS will be a standard, like email addresses and websites are now a "must" for businesses. RSS feeds will join their ranks.
Unlike blogs, businesses can easily justify RSS feeds, as they will be increasing customer and corporate communication. RSS will create new revenue channels. RSS has the potential to help companies develop strong relationships with consumers and create brand loyalty. RSS Feeds will draw existing customers and prospective clients, translating to a new or renewed income stream. Businesses using RSS feeds as a communication medium to notify interested customers of specials, discounts, product announcements, technical support tips, news and industry studies will ultimately sustain RSS as a viable and valued communication medium.