rss

Apple’s Podcasters Program Agreement

Have to say it again… host it on your own. Don’t rely on Spotify or Apple or Google to grow your podcasting audience or business. That path only leads to destruction.

I read through the “Apple Podcasters Program Agreement” and related documentation so you don’t have to. Here’s a thread of 11 things that caught my eye that I hadn’t seen mentioned anywhere else.

Source: The Future of Apple Podcasts

Go Start Your Blog and Find a Newsreader

I’ve been using RSS as my primary way to read news, blogs, thoughts, and ideas since 2005 or so (I currently use a mix of Feedly and NewsBlur as my RSS readers, and both are excellent in their own ways).

There’s a growing rumbling going on in the tech-thinkers space I follow (mostly through my RSS readers). Twitter is great for quick fleeting thoughts that you write on the back of a leaf and watch float away down the river. Facebook is great for sharing pictures and updates with those who you are close with in real life. RSS and feed readers serve a much different purpose and I have no doubt they’ll be back in the mainstream soon enough given the current tensions around walled gardens, security, and advertising…

Now fight against the machine and go start your blog. You’ll be glad you did.

The tension between walled gardens (or lock-in, or whatever you want to call it) and a decentralized web will likely never end. But, it feels like we are in for another significant turn of the crank on how all of this works, and that means lots of innovation is coming.

— Read on www.feld.com/archives/2018/08/rss-the-persistent-protocol.html

Bring Back RSS

I’m admittedly from a generation that grew up with a web that didn’t include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Google. I look back fondly on the early 2000’s when we all had our own blogs and shared thoughts and pictures and quotes there.

I was just reminiscing about blogrolls this week with a client as we reminded ourselves about the joy of finding new and interesting people to subscribe to because of a link on a blog that we liked. Of course, there was Blogger and Live Journal and then Flickr and the rise of Google and MySpace and eventually Twitter and Facebook arrived in 2006. But for a while, it was a magical time not ruled over by corporate content silos… in my mind at least.

That’s a major reason why I still blog and share thoughts and links here. I’m not going to convert anyone but maybe I’ll share some of that old time religion. There’s incredible freedom and a sense of adventure to having your “own” site. Try it, rather than just relying on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Fun read here:

“For those of you born into the siloed world of the centralised web, RSS is an ancient technology from Web 1.0 (“the naïve Web?”). Like most things back then, it does what it says on the tin: it enables you to easily syndicate the content of your site. People interested in following your posts subscribe to your feed and receive updates using their RSS readers. There is no Twitter or Facebook in the middle to algorithmically censor … ahem … “curate” your posts.”

Via on Aral Balkan’s blog

RSS in 2018

There’s so much wrong with this post, but I’ll point out my biggest gripe here… RSS (like podcasting) doesn’t need the metrics of behavior tracking for it to be a success. It’s distributed. It’s not commercialized. It’s not tracked with clicks based on eCPM’s or eCPC’s or brand quality engagement views.

And that’s ok.

It serves a heck of an important purpose.

Let’s all start using RSS readers again, btw. The internet will be a much better space.

RSS’ true failings though are on the publisher side, with the most obvious issue being analytics. RSS doesn’t allow publishers to track user behavior. It’s nearly impossible to get a sense of how many RSS subscribers there are, due to the way that RSS readers cache feeds. No one knows how much time someone reads an article, or whether they opened an article at all. In this way, RSS shares a similar product design problem with podcasting, in that user behavior is essentially a black box.

Source: RSS is undead | TechCrunch

Dave Winer on how to stimulate the open web

We were talking about this way back in 2006 (and probably before, but that’s when I started taking notice as the social web started accelerating) and it’s good to see that guardians of the web like Dave Winer are still hard at work thinking and talking (and making apps) about this:

Create systems that are ambivalent about the open or closed web. If I create a tool that’s good at posting content to Facebook and Twitter, it should also post to RSS feeds, which exist outside the context of any corporation. Now other generous and innovative people can build systems that work differently from Facebook and Twitter, using these feeds as the basis, and the investors will have another pile of technology they can monetize.

via How to stimulate the open web.

Go read and use RSS.

Blogging Isn’t Dead

I’d have to disagree with this…

Blogging is Dead – But Long Live the Blogosphere – exploreB2B: “While the thought process remains the same today (‘Here is what I think, read my blog’) – the effect is minimal, if anything at all. A viewer may read an article on your blog, maybe even find it interesting, but then never return. Memory of the author, ideas in the post (and certainly the URL), are long forgotten amongst the array of activity online.”

The main reason I would disagree with the sentiment that “blogging is dead” is because it isn’t. Sure, the concept, tools, and way we write our blogs today have changed since the inception of blogging back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but blogging is far from dead.

Even though people aren’t doing the type of hyper-personal blogging which they were doing back in the late 90s and early 2000s anymore, blogging as a medium is still very valid and a great way to carve out your own space on the web. Blogging is a key part of what we consider the open web since it uses “old-school” components like RSS and a blog isn’t a walled garden you have to log into. The type of trade-offs you have with walled gardens such as Facebook are nonexistent when you start your own site given that you run it on your own server, etc. It’s a geeky process and takes a little bit of heavy lifting here and there, but it’s worth it considering that you keep control over what you do.

I started my first blog (and I still write there) on a whim back in July 2011 and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done on the web. The magnificent thing about writing your own site is that you can learn so much from others and yourself. You practice and become a better writer and as you devote a little more time to it here and there, you learn about a few other things too (like design, SEO, moving things around on a server, and what you should and shouldn’t put on a site). Looking back at some posts I wrote in 2011 and last year, I have to cringe and scratch my head a great deal, but that’s part of the learning process that comes with anything on the web.

I’ve learned a ton and continue to learn from writing my own site and writing here on MarketingTrends. I’ve blogged elsewhere in the past, but there’s something about writing your own blog that’s so satisfying and in a way, fulfilling to yourself as a writer and user of the internet. While folks who say that blogging is dead have a point because the way we view blogs and publishing in 2013 has changed and adapted a lot over the years, declaring blogging “dead” isn’t justified. Blogging, while old-school (also see email marketing and RSS, neither of which are “dead”), is still one of the best ways to build a solid reputation and name for yourself on the web.

I’d say the feeds that I’m subscribed to in my RSS reader of choice (currently ReadKit) are a solid 50/50 split between bigger sites and smaller blogs written by folks in the industry or just people whose stuff I enjoy reading.

One of the first things I tell anyone looking to go beyond the walled garden principle on the web is for them to go buy a domain name. It’s dead simple and pretty inexpensive. If they want to go beyond that, I’d tell them to go get their hands dirty with a hosted solution first (Tumblr is great for this and I also love Shareist) and eventually move their stuff over to a self-hosted WordPress site (or Movable Type if you’re into that). With all the things we have at hand in 2013 (Squarespace, WordPress, etc), there’s no excuse for why you shouldn’t have your own space on the web.

“And if your words are good, people will read them.”

Thanks for reading our blog.

Devin

RSS is Still Important for Marketers

I love my RSS feeds that I’ve been curating over the last six or so years. I still think that as a delivery medium RSS is part of the future of the web.

However, RSS has always taken a back seat to other ways of capturing and engaging visitors to other tactics such as email. As Scott Jangro wrote in a recent comment here:

All Traffic is Not Good Traffic | Discussion: “But can you do something to capture them as your own?  That should be the primary focus on that traffic. Give them something that will get them to give you their email address, or sign up and get involved in a website.  The latter is harder than the former.

So regardless of the traffic source, who are these users that are coming by, and what can you do to make them *yours*?”

There’s a mighty good reason that RSS takes a back seat to email or some other “capture” mechanism… RSS is insanely nerdy and grows more so every day/month/year. There was a great hope of people like me who saw RSS as a very viable platform that could transform the way the web delivers content and news to most individuals and we’d all be running around reading our feeds on browsers or our devices to our whims (instead of turning to mediated sources like cable news or heavens forbid network news).

That didn’t happen.

For sure, RSS is alive via platforms like the awesome Flipboard app, which is much more “user friendly” than NetNewsWire or Google Reader will ever be (though much less satisfying if you ask me).

RSS is still very much alive as a pure web medium as well. So why should marketers care about RSS subscriptions?

Because all traffic is not good traffic. The traffic you should be concerned about as a marketer is the highly qualified traffic that has the potential to not only convert into some action but become a part of the actual community that will grow and build a site over the long run (if you care about such things, which you should).

Yes, that can be accomplished via email newsletters and lists. However, email lists and RSS subscribers are almost apples and oranges in terms of comparison when considering how they interact with a site and what type of user community can be built with their help and engagement.

RSS subscribers are by nature a nerdy and dedicated bunch… don’t count them out in your efforts. Their numbers may be small (and growing smaller all the time in your Feedburner etc stats) but their power is mighty as I consistently encounter.

FailSense and Putting out the FeedBurner Flame

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I thought Google would buy RSS wundercompany Feedburner. I made the prediction on a couple of podcasts with Jeff Molander and his gang and was subsequently called silly or something to that effect.

However, Google did buy FeedBurner, and I thought we would see a revolution in both RSS technology (more mainstream adoption, etc) as well as AdSense and contextual advertising.

Turns out I was wrong about those two. Google continues to sit on FeedBurner without offering much in the way of innovation beyond shutting down the paid premium option and shutting down the popular (and well written) FeedBurner blog, instead sending folks to the AdSense blog.

So, instead of innovating RSS or contextual ad serving, it seems that Google is content with wrapping FeedBurner into an AdSense delivery system and not much else.

Sad.

Especially when you get results like this (from my RSS reader on a post about ice cores):

google ad fail.jpg

Really does make me sad. I thought we were on the verge of something big on the syndicated web. Google keeps disappointing me as it seems to keep going for the chedda and not much else.

BTW, make sure to visit Chedda’s blog. It’s off the chain.

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XMPP as the Marketer’s Golden Egg; Latency as Magic Beans

XMPP has had a meteoric rise in term of its profile and application over the last two years. Part of that is due to the rise of microblogging services such as Twitter or Identi.ca that leverage the XMPP platform to deliver real time updates to users.

However, there has been a hiccup in Twitter’s usage of XMPP over the last few months and that hiccup has helped to give more exposure to XMPP instead of putting it on the shelf. The increasingly popular Track feature of Twitter (which allowed users to follow certain keywords they were interested in… in real time… without having to rely upon the latency of RSS and/or an increasingly hampered Twitter API) was pulled a few months ago. Twitter’s Biz Stone comments about the disabling of Track for everyone here:

Our goal is to support as many applications, projects, mash-ups, and devices as possible so we’ll continue to think about how best to do this. While the XMPP feed of the full Twitter Public Timeline is an amazing resource, drinking from the fire hose is not the best way to quench a thirst. With continued updates and refinement, our API will support most scenarios in a way that preserves overall system performance.

Track WAS the ultimate web tool and began to function as the neural spine for many of us. The latency of a hampered API does not fill the void. Early adopters like myself got a taste of its power and now thinkers and users such as Steve Gillmor are looking for an angry fix:

But Twitter is living on borrowed time with its XMPP blockade. The flowering of micro-objects opens the door to applications that leverage swarming around events and the growing availability of iPhone-class mobile devices. The success of App Store stars such as Evernote suggests that adding micro-object support will accelerate usage of the XMPP backbone. Latency in that environment will be an instant deal-breaker, opening the door for better-financed competitors to subsidize real time services to capture audience.

Before we go too much deeper, it’s important to explain exactly what XMPP is and why marketers should be researching and developing its application.

Wikipedia explains:

Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) is an open, XML-inspired protocol for near-real-time, extensible instant messaging (IM) and presence information (a.k.a. buddy lists). It is the core protocol of the Jabber Instant Messaging and Presence technology. The protocol is built to be extensible and other features such as Voice over IP and file transfer signaling have been added.

Unlike most instant messaging protocols, XMPP is an open standard. Like e-mail, it is an open system where anyone who has a domain name and a suitable Internet connection can run their own Jabber server and talk to users on other servers. The standard server implementations and many clients are also free and open source software.

That sounds incredibly geeky and innocuous to most direct marketers, but put on your thinking cap for a moment and re-read Gillmor’s quote above with that information in mind.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to come to the realization that in the coming years, the real world web stars will be applications that deliver on demand, in real time and with micro-object support. XMPP stands as the protocol, above all other protocols, to deliver those messages to the masses.

The future of marketing is not based on latency or delayed access to timely information. RSS is wonderful and has changed my world, but its asynchronous delivery only makes me want to plant the latency bean in some fertile garden so that I can climb the vine to the ultimate marketing prize… real time tracking and delivery of information that I opt-in to.

Keep an eye on XMPP. And especially keep an eye on the first company to tap into its marketing power (Identi.ca?).

Affiliate Marketing on FriendFeed

For any affiliate marketers who are also FriendFeed users or fans, I created a public room called “Affiliate Marketing”:

FriendFeed: “Affiliate Marketing” Room

Why would this be useful? Well, you get the best of FriendFeed (comments, sharing of interesting or relevant stuff from around the web, some aggregation, RSS etc).

No high expectations for this, just thought I’d put it out there for any aff marketers already on FriendFeed (and if you are, make sure to friend me at samharrelson).

Alcohol: Cause of And Solution To All Good Mashups

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A wise man once said, “Alcohol, the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.” If we extend that metaphor to tech, it looks like BeerMenus.com is doing some interesting things with a mashup of local beer menus, Google Maps, dynamic search and RSS:

Bruisin’ Ales Beer Blog: “We love this! In NYC, two disgruntled corporate guys (and brothers) launched a new site, Beermenus.com. Will and Eric Stephens’ site is dedicated to providing beer menus of restaurants in the NYC metro area—’a growing compendium that lists 263 beer menus and 1,386 different beers from pubs around Manhattan and, now, Brooklyn.’ As the popularity of beer continues to grow, this could easily expand into something for big beer cities across the country. “

Right now, this is primarily for the NYC metro area (yet another reason NY is the greatest city in the world), but I hope it expands to include more regions and areas (and develops a mobile app or site).

These sorts of sites could easily add affiliate marketing to the mix and make a ton of money. Hopefully they’ll do that so that the service can expand.

Affiliate Marketing’s RSS Problem

Amen, Linda and Ian

12 Ways Affiliate Managers Can Use RSS for Affiliate Communication – 5 Star Affiliate Marketing Blogs: “Enter RSS. Why aren’t more affiliate programs using RSS? They really should be! There are so many things that would help affiliates generate more sales, if only they could be communicated in a timely manner. How about real-time as they happen – through RSS, instead of saving up the info for the next monthly newsletter, which no one reads anyway!”

RSS is still such an underused technology, especially here in affiliate marketing, with so much potential.

I spend a majority of my screen time in my feed reader (NetNewsWire for the Mac) and wish daily that more affiliate programs and managers would start utilizing RSS.

I can has RSS, please?

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