In the early days of blogging, an RSS feed was the easiest way to get new content in front of your audience. Plus, it was just as easy for them to consume! Gradually, the use of RSS declined with the advent of new and seemingly better ways of content consumption, like social networks and a bevy of content curating platforms. Then, in March 2013, Google announced it was shutting down its Reader service - the largest RSS platform at the time.
With the closure of Google Reader, all RSS feeds seemed to be going the way of the Dodo – in other words, extinction. However, despite claims that RSS is dead or, at least dying, it’s not going away. Even if people stop using RSS as a way to discover or aggregate the content they like from various sites, it has other uses that can be helpful. Here are some ideas for practical ways to use RSS feeds in 2016:
1. Get Your Google Alerts
Google Alerts can be a great way to scoop up new and interesting content ideas without all the legwork. Alerts works by sending email notifications whenever Google finds new results on a topic that interests you. This also means, though, that an inordinate amount of emails may end up in your inbox. To prevent this inbox overload, you can have the alerts delivered to your RSS feed. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to Google Alerts and type the keywords or the topics you’re interested in the search box.
- Click on Show options to customize how often you want to receive alerts, the sources you want to search, and the way you’d like to receive your alerts.
- Select RSS feed as your Deliver to option.
- Click Create Alert.
2. Syndicate Your Content
Some websites allow you to contribute content to them via your RSS feed. Of course, they’ll moderate your content and post according to the interests of their audience. Here are some sites that let you share content with their audiences:
3. Share Updates and Information
Guy McDowell discusses an excellent use case of RSS feeds in his article Is RSS Dead? A Look At The Numbers. This example stuck with us:
“…let’s say you have an online storefront that sells widgets from WidgetCo. You’re part of a worldwide network of 1,000 online retailers of WidgetCo widgets. WidgetCo raise and lower their prices fairly frequently. Instead of WidgetCo sending 1,000 new price lists to 1,000 retailers by e-mail, and then each of those retailers having to manually update their prices, WidgetCo has an RSS feed of the price list. The retailers have their websites set up to read the RSS price feed and automatically adjust the prices on the website. Now, all it takes is a couple seconds to update the wholesale and retail cost of a particular widget worldwide.”
4. Feed Your Blog to Social Platforms
Sending your RSS feed to social media platforms is another easy way to let your content and blog posts grab more impressions and engagement. Twitterfeed, Dlvr.it and Twibble.io are some of the best-known social automation tools that allow you to use any RSS feed to send out auto-tweets and Facebook posts. While Dlvr.it also supports LinkedIn, Twibble attaches the image featured in your blog post with the tweets or Facebook posts, making them visually appealing.
Besides combing information and content of your choice, there’s a lot more you can do with your RSS feed in terms of promoting your content, generating more traffic, tracking subscribers and channels’ reach, and more.
It’s time you stop considering RSS an obsolete tool and look for new approaches to use it in your workflow.
What are the ways you’re using RSS feeds? Share your ideas with us in the comments below and let us know what works best for you.