Mainstream adoption of RSS took a step forward yesterday when Google launched its Reader product. This is the new version of Google’s RSS reader and includes features like feed discovery and sharing (also spotted on Steve Rubel’s blog).
RSS is a key technology in pushing forward mainstream adoption of social media tools. It’s the glue that puts together a lot of the content sharing networks that make social media tick.
But the real issue is most users don’t know and don’t care what RSS is. So as long as we have RSS readers or RSS aggregators we have a problem. It’s the same as 3G – no-one cares what it is, but they probably do care that they can get video on their mobile phones. Stephen Davies had a post about this on PR Blogger a little while back.
As marketers our role is to take the technology and what it’s called out of the equation. Customers buy or use things because of the benefits they get. So it’s great that Google Reader is being positioned as “your inbox for the web”. Indeed the Google blog post announcing its arrival doesn’t even have RSS anywhere in the post – great stuff. Marshall at Techcrunch congratulates Google for making a video that demystifies RSS for the average user.
Yahoo! Mail’s new beta version also includes an integrated RSS reader. When you consider the number of users that Yahoo and Google have combined, it’s easy to see a big hike in the use of RSS when these two tools are marketed, and that can only be a good thing for social media.