SXSW07: Using RSS for Marketing

After four years of attending SXSW Interactive, one picks up certain habits or routines. For me, one routine is to shy away from panels or presentations that would tell me what I already know and seek out interesting panel(s) that I wouldn’t normally attend. 

Last year’s Second Life panel blew me away and gave me insight into a different Internet culture that I didn’t know was happening on the Internet. 

This year I ducked into the Using RSS for Marketing panel. I already know what RSS is, but are people really using it for marketing? If so, in what ways?

Of the panels I saw this year (which, granted, weren’t as many as I would have liked) this was the one was the most well-paced, information-packed. 

Below are my notes from the panel. 

Using RSS for Marketing

  • How do you go about explaining RSS to your clients? 
    • It depends on the type of client. 
      • Individuals
      • Tech startups
      • Fortune 500 companies
    • Everyone wants to deliver information to their audience faster
    • A direct information stream that goes to your audience, whether they realize the technology behind it
    • It’s about the benefit for your users and efficiency for your company
    • It doesn’t matter what you call it. Refrain from the “b” word: blog
  • What stopped talking about RSS, but talk about what we can do. 
    • What is the RSS adoption rate?
    • Growth rate is accelerating
    • Don’t have data on what applications people are using for Internet Explorer 7 for Windows
    • People don’t know they are using RSS
    • Our clients getting information in a lot of different ways
    • It’s been mainstream for a while now
    • What we saw last year was a spike from a non-tech sector, the automative sector, mostly hobbyists of cars
    • When Google Reader went live and MS’s IE7, saw a huge spike in usage of the RSS
  • Is the “RSS” term that the average person needs to know? 
    • It’s about subscribing to content
    • Content is coming to us now. RSS is about plumbing. No one has to care
    • It’s a part under the hood of the car that works. No one knows how
    • RSS can almost be an API for anyone’s Web site
  • What are using RSS for? 
    • Use it as a listening tool
    • Real-time gathering of news
    • You can still build a feed, but there’s this big cloud of content 
      • Take a piece of this content from this cloud and put some of it in your Web site
      • It lends credibility to you and your site
      • Host that conversation.
    • Become a thought leader in the topic
    • Ford is creating Web sites for their auto show 
      • They are sending someone to cover what’s happening in the auto industry
    • Use RSS for your news articles 
    • Automatic product feed updates, job listings, marketing surveys
    • Whatever you are doing with your marketing, you need to measure it
    • Having themed content along with JavaScript-powered RSS feeds
    • There are new products coming out that will search within feeds
    • Multiplying your own RSS feeds on your own Web site 
      • There are million tools out there that will take any RSS feed and put it on your site
      • Google is rapidly indexing all feeds
  • What are publishers doing wrong? 
    • They are doing everything right! (Laughter.)
    • Figure out what is the magic number of items in their feed 
      • Data we found is that there isn’t much of a difference between full feeds vs summary feeds
      • Both types of feeds show that people are coming back to your site
      • Don’t be stingy with your content
    • Don’t be too fancy 
      • Secure your feed, if you want. Use HTTP authentication
      • Don’t try a secret URL, since it doesn’t work. Google will find it and index it
    • It’s a widget called “Add This” to subscribe
    • Use auto-discovery and get people using RSS 
      • Having someone subscribing use RSS is more valuable than an email subscriber
    • Start off each headline with your company name, like AP does 
      • If your feed gets syndicated, people will be able to see your company name
    • Don’t get fancy with your formating 
      • Since you don’t know which device your feed will appear: mobile devices, browsers, email applications, etc.
  • Question(s) from the Audience 
    • What kind of publishing schedule should someone have? 
      • If you’re publishing, your schedule should be consistent. Whether it’s once-a-day or once-a-week
      • If you are doing product updates, as least once a month

Any New Surprises?

If you attended SXSW Interactive this year, I would love to hear what panel you fond to be the biggest surprise.

2 thoughts on “SXSW07: Using RSS for Marketing

  1. Interesting comment about the use of the “b” word (blogs). What is it that’s turning users away from that terminology? Cliche? Overuse? Or perhaps are blogs becoming synonymous with mis-information and half-truths rather than fact-based research?

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