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Don’t You Know What a Feed Is Yet? Get To Know Your Feeds!

Feeds, something I think are hotter than tags and other gimmicks on the web today, should be the talk of the web. They are, but not as much as you would think. In an article from E-Marketer, “RSS Advertising May Work Around Spam Issues”, they take a look at the perception and recognition of feeds:

Really Simple Syndication was originally established as a way to distribute news updates to individuals and is now becoming a way for marketers to distribute product alerts and other messages. A small percentage of users are currently familiar with the term, but that number is about to grow higher as marketers begin to experiment further with RSS and perhaps one day make it a significant way to reach online customers.

According to a recent study study by Pew Internet & American Life Project, it turns out that roughly 9% of users are familiar with RSS.

This may be optimistic. Another report, from Ipsos Insight commissioned by Yahoo!, shows that the percentage of users who are aware of RSS is about 4%.

Feeds are an awesome way to get the news, information, and articles you want from websites, especially blogs, fast and easy. Every day I encounter people who still don’t know what a feed is, or how it might help them.

What is a Feed?

A feed is another way of viewing web pages. If you are reading this post on this website, with all the layout and graphics intact, there is another way to view this site. Click this link to open a new window or tab to view this site’s feed. Well, at least a readable version of this site’s feed.

You can see the most recent articles in chronological order, without all the graphics, bells, and whistles. You just see the text.

There are programs called “feed readers” which take feed links, like the one above, and add them to a directory or feed list, also known as feed bookmarks. These programs hold your list of feeds and with a click or two, you can quickly move down the list, viewing the updated posts from the feeds on your favorite websites.

How does this benefit web users?

If you are used to using your browser favorites, or typing in the URL/address for your favorite websites that you return to catch up on the latest news or new posts, you understand how long it takes to type in the address and wait for the page to load. Not all sites clearly promote their newest articles, either. So you might have to hunt for the latest news or changes.

Feed List with Sage Feed Reader - FirefoxWith a feed reader, click on the address and within seconds the text from the most recent articles, news, and posts appears on your screen. If they are greyed out, you have probably read them, so you can move down the list to the newest content. Within a few minutes, you have read through 10 or more favorite websites, catching up on the news, where it might have taken you 15-30 minutes or more before.

Lorelle on WordPress feed iconNot every website comes with feeds, though most should by now. All WordPress blogs feature feeds automatically. Feeds are found by using the feed reader’s “search for feeds” feature or by looking for links or logos which represent a feed. While the graphic to represent feeds is still evolving, look for an orange button with RSS or FEED in the title. Click and drag the graphic and/or the link to your feed reader to add feeds manually.

You can also put feeds on your website that come from external sites. This is a neat way of including more and/or related information from external sources, or to include information from another website or blog you own. Adding RSS Feeds to WordPress and Playing with WordPress.com New Sidebar Widgets including Feeds discuss how to add feeds to your WordPress and WordPress.com blogs.

I should caution you, however, to include titles or excerpts not full posts in any feeds you host on your website or blog unless you have the consent of the author. There are more and more cases of content theft through feeds and action is working its way up the pipeline to put a stop to illegal usage of content on websites that can’t come up with their own original content, so they stuff their blogs with stolen material. Sad use of something so exciting and powerful.

Get to know and understand how feeds work and how they can benefit you. The next Windows and Mac versions will include a variety of ways to use and include feeds in your day-to-day operations, so get familiar with them now so you can jump on the feed bandwagon.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen

4 Comments

  1. Posted April 26, 2006 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Nice write-up Lorelle. I’ve been thinking about this myself lately. It strikes me that not many people actually draw attention to their feeds, but that this could be a good way to increase ones pool of regular readers. Most of the time the RSS link is at the bottom of the blog (especially with WordPress), in a font which isn’t designed to be terribly visible.

    I was thinking of making a bit more of my RSS icon; using the nice, bug RSS logo, actually have some sort of “what is rss?” link nearby, and placing it much higher up in the blog (as new visitors probably don’t scroll all the way to the bottom, all the time).

    As for feeds being used for stealing content, FeedBurner offers a form of misuse detection system which might help, or at least inform you of a problem.

  2. Posted August 2, 2006 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Hi! I added your feed to my new blog. Hopefully, new bloggers like me will benefit from it.

  3. Posted September 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Lorelle,
    I just found your site while looking for some ways to address the problem with email subscriptions for the new blog of our non-profit organization.

    It was just announced and in a few days have 221 subscribers via Feedburner.
    However 29 people or 13% of these have not verified their subscriptions. I have sent out an email suggesting they check their spam.

    A number of people have responded that they did not receive a confirming email. There seems to be no pattern of which email services the unverified people are using.

    Is this typical that so many do not get a confirming email from Feedburner?
    Is Feedburner black listed by some services?

    Is there another alternative to Feedburner I should consider?

    I am very discouraged.

    Any suggestions?
    thanks Johnette

    • Posted September 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry about your troubles, however, first, it’s a holiday weekend in the United States, so have some patience. Second, why come to me? Feedburner is legit, a US based company therefore also on holiday probably, and I don’t work for them nor can help you with this issue. Email confirmations are horrible. I don’t rely upon them at all. Check your account and ensure that the email that goes out is clear and easy to use and maybe add some notes to your WordPress blog’s subscription page that alerts people to this need. Also know that many email subscriptions are tripped by bots so you might have had only 50 real people out of every 100-200 and bots don’t check their email. :D I don’t have a replacement as Feedburner and FeedBlitz are both fine and have been around for ages. Good luck with your site and sorry I can’t help you more.


29 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Lorelle offers a great explaination of how feeds can contribute to your blog in this article which is well worth a read! [...]

  2. [...] remember that your best customers are the return customers. Those willing to return and read what you write and tell their friends, those who subscribe to your blog with their Feedburner account, or just keep up with your blog through their own feed reader – those are the ones you really want. Crowds are fickle. Your repeat customers are your fans, [...]

  3. [...] Feeds are another method of showcasing post titles, but not necessarily titles from posts you wrote on this blog. They come from other blogs. [...]

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  5. [...] Plugins for Feeds Feeds are the hottest technology on the web today, as far as I’m concerned. I get my news through [...]

  6. [...] moment you hit the Publish button, your blog post is added to your feeds. Whether your feeds are handled through the built-in WordPress feed service, Feedburner, FeedBlitz, [...]

  7. [...] Lorelle VanVossen – What are Feeds? [...]

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  9. [...] Lorelle VanVossen – What are Feeds? [...]

  10. [...] Feeds are one of the most powerful features you can add to your blog.WordPress and WordPress.com blogs come with feeds built-in. You don’t have to do anything except control how those feeds are viewed by your readers. [...]

  11. [...] up your feed reader and categorize your feeds so you can go right to the sources of what you need as you write your [...]

  12. [...] changing the words, Franzen saw a huge increase in feed and email subscriptions. Most people still don’t know what a feed is. By asking them to subscribe, they may think you are asking them for money. However, everyone [...]

  13. [...] changing the words, Franzen saw a huge increase in feed and email subscriptions. Most people still don’t know what a feed is. By asking them to subscribe, they may think you are asking them for money. However, everyone [...]

  14. [...] Feed Stats display how many people are viewing your blog via feeds and what type of feed reader they are using to access your [...]

  15. [...] great content is what we’re all about – especially in tough budget times! Here’s an article that explain feeds in a straightforward way; and here’s a video that takes another [...]

  16. [...] Don’t You Know What a Feed Is Yet? Get To Know Your Feeds! [...]

  17. [...] Reader is quickly becoming one of the most popular feed readers. If you aren’t using feeds, you are missing out on one of the most valuable blogging and information monitoring tools in the [...]

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