Back in the summer of 2006, after I had just started blogging, Joe Thornley took me for lunch to chat about all things social media and communications related.
Over the rather injudicious choice of garlic-laden shrimp linguine (mine) and the rather better choice of pizza (his), Joe said something that really struck a chord.
He said that the release of IE7, and its built in RSS feed detector/reader would hasten the adoption and acceptance of social media – something that is, after all, built on the back of the principle of syndication. Really Simple Syndication.
Truth be told, I only had an inkling of what RSS was but this chat resolved me to find out. Thankfully, I had a little bit of time on my hands – I was waiting for my work permit for Fleishman-Hillard Canada to come through – and so I did my research. Unfortunately for anyone who’s spoken to me since, I found out way too much information and “learnt” RSS, rather than “understood” it.
So when I was asked “what is RSS?” in a presentation, I probably left the audience member more confused than before they asked me the question. That experience resolved me to think of a succinct, understandable analogy of my own that I could use to explain this very cool technology.
Here it is:
Your Web content is like water in a lake. Lots of people want it and you want them to have it. They want to drink it, swim in it and play water polo in it.
But, to get it, they need to visit the lake, fill their buckets and then go back to their homes to use it.
RSS enables your audience to create a stream from your lake(where the content is) to their home (where they need the content).
How does this analogy work for you? Would your mother/grandmother understand it? How about your boss or client?
And to continue the analogy to define RSS’s importance to the organization:
Why would you make people walk up hills or through forests to get to something you want them to use? And once they had made the effort to get to the lake, how would they feel if, there was nothing for them to drink?
From my perspective, if you care about people caring about your content, RSS is a must have.
Photo courtesy of: Heartkins