Does RSS need a branding exercise?

Posted: September 30th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Journalism, tools, web | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Dave Lee asked earlier today why is it that unlike other social media and web 2.0 tools RSS enjoys relatively low appreciation. It’s used by ‘early adopters’ or geek as they are otherwise known but it hasn’t tipped into the mainstream like say YouTube, Facebook or Flickr. Dave reckons it’s because of the name and that people aren’t used to ‘feeds’ and that ‘subscribing’ sounds too much like paying money.

Perhaps what RSS needs it a branding exercise to make it appeal to the masses. I suggested ‘news for you’ as a cheesey brand that a newspaper could use, but it’s along those lines – RSS provides the news that you want smack into an easily digestiable format.

Dave goes a step further and says that media outlets themselves should be creating and delivering their own RSS readers and branding these up for readers. This seems like a great idea and perhaps these RSS readers could come pre-packaged with already interesting feeds built-in. For example if I subscribed to The Guardian environment news RSS feed it might already have RSS feeds to relevant charities, NGOs, and government about environment issues. A great way of making your reader more informed about a topic.

But how to let the masses know about RSS? It needs an equivalent push to what we see in newspapers these days ‘check it online, read it online, watch it online’ is what normally accompanies any story. There needs to be advertising in both the print and online editions of media saying ‘try our own reader’, or ‘be your own reader’. The personalisation of news moves a step closer.

They could also do with embedding this great video by Common Craft explaining RSS in plain English, or produce something like it (I’d like to see The Sun’s version!): (thanks to Chris Brogan for his great post about using social media as outposts for this one)

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