After our first webinar on blogging for business and doing lots of talking about RSS feeds it reminded me about the fantastic power of our favourite RSS reader, Feed.ly. I would like to share with you how Zeun Digital uses this tool to collate information from lots of different news and blog feeds. This helps us to keep up to date on the latest news and trends in our industry and is a great source of inspiration for content to share, collate and create.
What is an RSS feed?
First, it is important to understand what RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds are all about and why they are important for blogging. We all recognise the familiar orange logo and we see it on lots of sites but it’s surprising how many people ignore it. RSS is the standard format for news and blog articles. Every article shares some common properties such as having a title, published date, author, summary, text and perhaps a featured image. The RSS feed provides a list of all the articles in a news feed and collates all of these properties in a standard format. Firefox and Internet Explorer automatically show an RSS icon on the toolbar when a site has a related feed. In Chrome, you need to install a browser extension and then if a feed is available it will show the RSS icon on the right-hand side of the address bar.
If you are using Microsoft Outlook you can add your RSS feeds to a folder, in Gmail its a little more complicated as you need to use both Feed.ly and IFTTT to set up automatic sharing of feeds in your mail and put them in a specific folder.
Why use Feedly for RSS?
By far our favourite way to follow news via RSS is with Feedly, a news aggregator application that compiles news feeds from online sources for users to customise and share. The best thing is you don’t need to know the feed address. You can type any domain name into Feedly and it will look for related feeds. Try it with bbc.co.uk or click this link for a shortcut.
Feedly allows you to arrange feeds in categories, search, browse, read and share articles. You can set up a free account at www.feedly.com. What we love most is that our favourite sharing tool ‘Buffer’ is also integrated automatically making it really easy and quick to share an article we like with our audiences on other platforms.
When we need a bit of inspiration for what to write about in a blog post, whether it is for our own site or a customer we often use feed.ly to get a quick overview of what the key topics are in a particular industry and give us a prompt for how we could expand on what others are saying and make it relevant to our specific audience. If we didn’t have the news feed to hand we could spend hours searching random phrases in Google and flitting from blog to blog looking for inspiration and new content. A great tip for small businesses is that you don’t need to always be creating completely new content, find a few articles on a current topic from a range of sources and then collate what they are saying into your own words and style. Remember if you use anyone else’s words directly you need to quote or cite them in your text – if you use their words and don’t give them the credit it is basically plagiarism and could even be classed as copyright infringement. If you plan to use more than a few words or would like to repurpose a whole article then you need to get permission from the original content creator.
Up to Date
You could subscribe to your favourite news and blog feeds via email, however many businesses only share some and not all of their content in their newsletters. However, this means you have to remember to take time out to go through your email and read them and unless you’ve been savvy and taken the time to set up rules to collate them all into folders the chances are that lots of the useful stuff gets lost in your inbox and deleted during your clearouts without ever getting your attention. By using Feedly the content you want to read is always there for you when you want and have time to read it and is not taking up your precious time by causing a distraction at the wrong moment when you are trying to get through your unread emails.
An advanced feature that we find really useful is ‘must read’. If there is a blog you really like and that you mostly or always find useful, interesting and engaging tick the ‘must read’ box. This lets Feedly know that this is exactly the sort of content you want to read and it will then find similar feeds and suggest them for you to add to your account. This means the correct sort of content is delivered to you reducing the amount of time you spend online researching and reading.
There is a mobile and tablet app for Feedly which makes reading news and blogs on the go really quick and easy. My favourite trick is to skip through the article summaries in Feedly whenever I have a spare few minutes and then add any particularly interesting things to ‘Pocket‘ to remind me to read or action it later.
It’s not just for text-based articles either. Feedly is great for collating any content and we love this video from Good Soil Media on how to use Feedly to collate YouTube content – some great tips here:
Is RSS still relevant 2020?
RSS isn’t as dominant as it once was. There are many other platforms, predominantly social media, which allow you to stay updated with industry news and trends, spy on competitors and spot opportunities. For example, Hootsuite lets you set up a dashboard across different social media channels and filter the relevant information into your feed. We typically use better alternatives for our social media marketing customers.
But in truth, Feedly and RSS still remain a popular option for millions of internet users and has application in the future as it continues to evolve. If you choose Feedly, you don’t need to worry about your efforts being wasted.
Do you use Feedly in your business or personally to collate news and blog feeds? We would love to know what you think to it or any alternative tools you might be using instead? Share your comments below or contact us directly via email at email@example.com