Is RSS of value to Marketers?

It was interesting to see a recent article in a national daily that announced a grouping of new political bloggers.Cynics may suggest that this is an attempt to capture a growing movement of new political commentators.In 2002 approximately 100,000 bloggers toiled away at their craft. During the US election campaign (2004) it was reported the blogging (short for web log) phenomena resulted in the development of 8 Million (source: Pew Internet & America) of the 120 million adult American Internet users creating blogs, a 58% increase from the previous year.

During the 2005 UK election campaign it was reported that even Michael Howard’s (opposition contender) wife was blogging daily while she was escorted him on his election trail.The growth in blogging statistics is also true for the United Kingdom – with the current number of bloggers reaching 30Million. The Guardian noted that they had achieved 2Million page prints in their first 2-3 weeks.

Knowledge Hemispheres (their brand is known as KH-2 or Knowing How2) Managing Director Dr Savi S Arora also noticed in January 2005, the Financial Times ran a special section on the growth of Blogging and wiki’ing. ‘I couldn’t go to sleep for consecutive nights as I knew that something new was brewing for the Internet. The scope of what is now known a Web 2.0 was hidden and difficult to size’. I wanted my company to pioneer in this field, its still early days though’. The result is that KH-2 are one of the few company’s that offer corporate podcasting solutions and understand the potential targeted penetration potential of technologies such as Real Simple Syndication (RSS – feeds). KH-2 also have the unique ability to build custom feeds and also aggregate specific content. The technology of Web 2.0 offers the ability to control content deliver for standard newsreader systems.

Is there a place for Corporate Blogging?

With the current growth of those reliant on RSS technology running at 6Million per week, the question to ask is whether there is sufficient interest with corporations to pursue web-blogs / blogs. One of the constraints is the potential breach of confidentiality.There is some good news, www.backbonemedia.com suggests that there are many positives to be achieved by corporations adopting the ‘art of blogging’. Their report was written by Stephen Turcotte. They asked hundreds of companies to participate in an online survey and also conducted in-depth interviews with leading individuals from six corporate blogs – that were selected as representative of the diverse spectrum of the corporate blogging world. What we discovered was that for the majority of our survey sample, corporate blogs are living up to all the hype. We discovered that corporate blogs are giving established corporations and obscure brands the ability to connect with their audiences on a personal level, build trust, collect valuable feedback and foster strengthened relationships while and at the same time benefiting in ways that are tangible to the sales and marketing side of the business. Just like in other aspects of life, success breeds success. What we see with successful blogs is a chain reaction that starts with a sincere interest on the part of the bloggers to provide their audience with great value in terms of useful and engaging content in the form of information, help, discussion and ideas. If a company can harness their customers’ knowledge and ideas, a company will find better ways to satisfy their customer’s needs and wants.

Listening to customers and acting on their suggestions is one of the best ways to build a group of customers who are committed to expressing their goodwill to their community. It is a common practice in blogging to provide a link back to a thought originator, which is valuable because backlinks are a way that search engines distinguish the order of the editorial rankings. When customers start commenting, posting or tracking back to their blogging community it can have a viral effect – spreading the word through other blogs. We discovered that it is a company’s blogging strategy that will produce the strongest community goodwill, and that goodwill brings the most marketing and sales returns.

Can Marketing companies even those already active with the Internet gain any advantages?

Forester Research, in its RSS 101 (One to One) Market report suggest that RSS is a powerful tool, albeit for the technologically advanced today. They also suggest that marketers should test and deploy to proactively maintain relationships with their customers. It currently appears that RSS is morphing into an individually targeted marketing channel capable of off-setting many of the downsides of other channels. This technology allows companies to target, segment and personalise communications, much as the way email does today. Individualised RSS recipients receive text, images and promotional offers uniquely matched to their interests and desires. The individualised feeds enable marketers to communicate with subscribers based on demographics, past behaviour or any other segmenting attributes.Recently it has been suggested that podcasting could be a useful tool, effectively contributing to an ‘attention economy’. Audio on the move that is subscriber based is a powerful ‘tuned’ medium.With the next-generation solutions each recipient gets his or her own unique feed, enabling marketers to understand how many and which recipients are picking up their messages. In addition, because each feed is unique to the individual recipient, marketers can track and measure subscriber actions all the way down to an individual, facilitating the same behavioural targeting and testing possible in other personalised media. This can also provide the potential to create a unique message for each user based upon demographic or behavioural data. Best of all these feeds, once set-up do not require any changes on the part of the recipient – they can use the same reader they use today to get their blogs or news feeds to access a company’s promotional messages. What next ?

Forester’s research reveals that 57% of marketers are interested in adding RSS to their marketing mix. A related reason may be the demographics of those who are online today. Marketers are excited by the possibility of a 100% message deliverability to a desktop via an RSS feed rather than email. There are no email maintenance issues with RSS.

Maybe the potential of RSS is only restricted by our imagination to apply it to commercial contexts.

This article is also available from k-wiki (http://www.k-wiki.com) the free online encylopedia / Wiki for Business.

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