In the modern age of social media and striving to gain interest and business through the Internet, one question that repeatedly comes up is, 'What's an RSS feed?' Many people who are stepping into the fray of blogging and social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, can find the terminology intimidating, and can often feel overwhelmed by it all. The question of what's an RSS feed, however, shouldn't be considered intimidating or complicated.
For starters, RSS basically stands for 'Real Simple Syndication.' It comprises a series of web feed formats that are often used in publishing information across the Internet. These formats can include, but are not limited to, blogs (web log journals), news headlines and stories, and also audio and video. What makes feeds so important to the exchange of information across the Internet is that it standardizes the format. In other words, when using an feed to publish content, it's safe to know that subscribers will be able to read or view the content put forth.
The 'feed' part of RSS is the document that is created. This can also be referred to as a 'channel' or 'web feed.' These 'feeds' can include either the entire text or merely a summary of its contents, as well as the date it was published and the author, if they choose to list this information.
Benefits of a feed
When trying to understand what's an RSS feed, one common question or concern that comes up has to do with its benefits. After all, for an average Internet user unfamiliar with the scope and potential of feeds, these benefits may seem somewhat obscured by the technology.
When using RSS feeds, individuals can syndicate the content they produce automatically. By syndicating the content in this way, a publisher can have the headline, title, audio or video that is published listed automatically on other sites -those that have subscribed to the RSS feed. Sound a bit confusing? Think of it in terms of national news: one person writes an article about a major news event. That article is then published by a number of different affiliate networks, from local to other national agencies at the same time. That is the premise of syndication. It's a powerful tool widely used throughout the Internet.
Back to understanding what's an RSS feed, though. Readers find significant advantage in using an feed because they can subscribe to particular content that interests them, being informed about updates, postings, and publications in real time.
How to use a RSS feed
Finding out how to use a feed is not as complicated as it may seem. Although the format runs off of the XML platform, it isn't a requirement that one know much about web design or code writing in order to use it. There are a host of sites crawling along the Internet that set up the feed for each person. Even many hosting services offer assistance in getting a RSS feed set up for their customers. In most cases, a user will either enter the URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) -a fancy term for the feed's name- or click on an icon to subscribe to the feed. This latter option has become increasingly popular in recent years and has streamlined the process of networking through RSS feeds.
In most cases, it isn't necessary to understand the minutia of HTML programming or web design to know how to use a RSS feed, yet there are options available that can help maximize the networking power of feeds throughout the Internet.
So now we've defined what's an RSS feed and subsequently, the power of using feeds will become more apparent once you are aware of them and how prevalent they are. RSS feeds are perhaps one of the strongest marketing tools available for individuals and businesses alike that are attempting to build a network of people interested in the information they can provide and, ultimately, the services and products they offer.
When you're ready to learn how to use a RSS feed, it will become readily apparent how easy it can be.