10 Ways RSS Will Change Your Life

The following is a guest post by my friend and colleague Todd Schnick of Intrepid.  The subject is one of those profoundly simple concepts.  Every sales rep, manager and executive can save time and learn more faster using RSS.  I hope you’ll follow the advice. – TY

“I don’t know how you do it,” they always tell me.

They are referring to my finding the time to comment on their blog. I almost don’t want to tell them how simple it is. The only two things you need are a little time and a commitment to do it.

I am talking about using RSS and my Google Reader. My process is simple. I subscribe to blogs I care about through their RSS feed. When they publish new posts, my RSS reader alerts me. Then, I comment. Simple. And it’s the best marketing thing I do…

It all starts with the orange icon you see on the upper right corner of this post. Clicking this button on most web and social web sites unleashes a wave of functionality that can change how you do business. Really, it is all about aggregating information in one place. But it is not just that…it is then doing something with this collected information. And that’s where most people fall short.

Have NO idea what I mean by RSS? From the RSS Feed Wikipedia definition: Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.

To me, RSS is the MOST important online tool we have. Cutting to the chase, here are 10 things I do personally with RSS that make me a better and more intrepid marketer:

1. Subscribe to the RSS feeds of blogs I care about (community friends, prospects, customers). In your reader, you will be notified when new material is published. You can now review the material, and if appropriate, offer up a helpful comment. Benefit to you –> Commenting on others’ blogs is the best means of driving traffic back to yours. RSS makes this process much much easier!

2. Use Twitter Search to find and monitor important keywords, and then create an RSS feed of the query results. For instance, I have a Twitter seach RSS feed for the keyword “gluten” which is important to my restaurant client FuegoMundo, who offers gluten-free food. Now, when anyone in Atlanta mentions the word gluten, I can converse with them if I choose. Benefit to you –> This helps you identify prospects talking about things you can DIRECTLY help them with!

[Go to Twitter Search, opt for Advanced search, type in your keyword(s) and other appropriate data, and then hit Search! Here is a sample query result. Note the orange RSS button upper right that says “Feed for this query” – click this to store the feed into your RSS reader. Simple!]

3. In addition to Twitter search, you can also create RSS feeds direct from the main twitter.com page, especially if you are not using a tool like TweetDeck. For instance, this is how I monitor mentions of my full name. How? On your main twitter.com page, type in your keyword in the white search box on the right sidebar, and after the results appear, scroll down the right sidebar and click on the “RSS feed for this query” link.

This is also a great way, again if you are not using something like TweetDeck, to monitor hashtags. It is very popular for people to categorize tweets around a specific topic, idea, or event – with a unique #hashtag. You can set up an RSS feed all ALL tweets mentioning this hashtag. Benefit to you –> Allows you to monitor a stream on a specific topic, and respond quickly if the situation calls for it.

4. You can now monitor the status stream from your LinkedIn network. Most agree that LinkedIn is their choice of platform to engage with business contacts. Well, now you can include an RSS feed of this stream into your reader, and keep an eye on what people you care about are saying, and who they are connecting with. For me, this will save the time of having to go direct to LinkedIn and monitor this, which I don’t do on a busy day, and I have a lot of busy days.

Clicking on the link in your RSS feed will take you direct to that person’s LinkedIn profile, enabling you to easily engage. [This new function may significantly increase my use of LinkedIn as a key tool] All you have to do is click on the RSS icon found at the top of your LinkedIn Home page. Benefit to you –> This feature is pretty new, so if you do it, you will have an immediate edge over most people!

5. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed on LinkedIn Answers to any one of dozens of discussion topics. Pick an issue you want to learn about, or know about and can help others with a meaningful answer. Benefit to you –> An easy way to find people asking questions about something that you are an expert in!

6. Monitor the news. Honestly? I don’t read newspapers or watch TV news. Ever. I no longer directly visit news websites anymore either. But I subscribe to a few news site RSS feeds and get news displayed on my RSS reader. Here, I can scan headlines and read an article if it interests me. Benefit to you –> A very simple way to aggregate all your news in one place, saving you valuable time!

7. There are a lot of different RSS readers out there. Choose the one that works best for you. Me? I use Google reader, for it is simple and easy to use. I can’t speak to any others, since, I have NEVER used any others. That said, one of the reasons I like Google’s reader is that you can help a publisher by hitting the “Share” button at the bottom of the feed display in your reader, and/or you can use “Share with note” and add commentary to someone’s post. Benefit to you –> This enables more opportunity for engagement with your community, which deepens relationships.

8. In addition, “Sharing” people’s work in your Google reader also displays it automatically on Google Buzz, if you use that application. Benefit to you –> Yet another EASY way to share the work of others in your networked community!

9. Many blogs offer you the option of subscribing to the RSS feed of the public COMMENTS to a specific blog post. I maintain that the dialog found in blog post comments is the best interaction found on the social web. Benefit to you –> Subscribing to the RSS feed is an easy way to keep and eye on that conversation and prompt you to engage and continue the dialog!

10. And I don’t have to say it, because you probably already know this, but inviting others to subscribe to your RSS feed is a great way to build a loyal following to YOUR material – and for many, the most critical call-to-action bloggers want to see happen with their blog’s audience. Benefit to you –> Grow your influence!

So here is my shameless plug: CLICK HERE to subscribe to my RSS feed! Please know that I am most grateful!

The only problem with my RSS reader? The time suck. You know how people say to NOT be a slave to the ping noise when a new email arrives –> when you drop everything, lose train of thought, and creative momentum flow – all to check one silly email? Well, I am proud to say email no longer does that to me. No, now I just scream with delight – and get all distracted – when new content pops up into my RSS reader. So, you have to exercise discipline here as well, in addition to your email inbox.

Undoubtedly, there are MANY other ways to utilize RSS to your advantage. Those listed above are how I personally use it. What additional ways are You using it? Let us know!

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