RSS (Really Simple Syndication) ~ Like Hell it is!

Rant

I am fed up (and that is putting it mildly) explaining RSS, particularly when the symbol appears on your website. If you don’t understand it or use it, why the bloody hell should your clients use or be expected to use it?

RSS is an easy way to spread your (remarkable?) content to many people across multiple locations, including various social media platforms.

It also allows you to pull or aggregate content from numerous, trustworthy sources into one location for quick and easy perusal.

I use Google Reader rather than RSS through Internet Explorer. It allows me to read in excess of 350 feeds per day and, as appropriate, share those posts across my various networks which include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Posterous, Tumblr, Stumbleupon and Google Bookmarks.

Built on a foundation of extensible markup language (XML), RSS in an updateable and distributable feed that supports images, text, audio and video.

Without getting drawn into the more technical aspects of RSS, if I was in practice as a lawyer these are some of the things that I would consider doing:

  1. Give up on bookmarking where sites have a RSS feed and use that instead;
  2. Set up a Google account and start using Google Reader to suck in my feeds and do some searches for clients or competitors to see if they produce content that I can then follow (and share?);
  3. Enable through Google Reader LinkedIn and Twitter (as a minimum) and spread my content direct through Google Reader;
  4. Start a dialogue with my clients about my firm’s RSS feed and get them to sign up;
  5. Talk to all my colleagues and make sure they understood it;
  6. Make sure that there was content going through the RSS feed that was suitable;
  7. Subscribe to as many feeds as I thought were relevant to my practice area.

Ultimately RSS is only as good as the content that is going through it – garbage in, garbage out – but it looks daft if you have a RSS feed but you are not using it.

Here are a few sites that have a RSS feed that you may want to subscribe to. Just by doing this you may get a much better idea of how it can help you and your firm:

  1. LinkedIn blog for the latest updates for LinkedIn users;
  2. Brian Solis for great social media articles;
  3. Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) news;
  4. The Guardian law page;
  5. Legal Futures;
  6. Stephen Mason; and
  7. Adam Smith esq.

Don’t go OTT. Stick to a few that you know you will have time to read. If you subscribe to too many chances are you will find it more of a hindrance than a help.

My view is that the future of social media does not rest on gaining adaptation and uptake of the platforms bur rather on the creation of WOW/memorable/remarkable/valuable content. But the thing is if you simply create it to your web or blog but don’t use RSS (or a similar feeder) then you are making it much harder than you need to for your loyal cohort of clients.

For me it is critical that I make the process of consuming my content easy. You site should be no different.

Once your feeds have been configured the maintenance is minimal yet the rewards are innumerable.

~ Julian Summerhayes ~

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