The day I took the time to sit down and learn RSS and RSS feeds changed my life. No, there weren’t angelic choruses accompanying beams of light breaking through Moses-like parts in the ceiling. But converting to feeds as a web hyper-user literally trimmed an hour and a half to two hours a day off of my browsing time commitment.

Since then, I’ve been passionately promoting the use and understanding of RSS feeds to friends, co-workers and colleagues. In my somewhat limited and questionably qualified opinion, RSS is the future of web browsing. Unfortunately, little exists in recent RSS talk to indicate new usage and penetration numbers. According to Yahoo in 2005, 27% of Internet users employ RSS technology in surfing the web, but few know what it really is because they use it mostly on personalized home pages like iGoogle and My Yahoo.

My guess is that 20-30 percent of all Internet users are actively subscribing to RSS feeds in readers. But I would also guess that number is growing every day. Please note that no one has really studied this in three years or so and my guesses are simply anecdotal attempts at quantifying. I’m not a researcher.

On Thursday, that number grew a little more (I hope) after I presented the slide show below, complete with an electrifying accompanying talk, to a group of marketing and brand managers at a major company. Thanks to Twitter encouragement and a suggestion from Kristen Munson, the Social Media Mom, I decided to share the presentation slides using

Thanks Kristen. And happy birthday.

And if you’d like the snarky commentary and wit and witticisms that go along with the slides, I’ll gladly give the RSS talk to your group or business.

[tags]RSS, RSS feeds, feed readers, syndicated content, learning RSS, RSS usage[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Harry Hoover

    Jason, I have had the RSS epiphany as well. But I think your estimates of how many people use RSS is too high. Until we get a piece of killer software like Outlook that makes RSS easier and more intuitive, acceptance of the technology will remain slow. It would probably be good to have a new marketing-oriented name for RSS, too. I’ll work on that and get back to you.

  • Jason Falls

    Hey Double-H, my estimates might be high but I think the simplicity of a Google Reader, particularly with the ubiquitous nature of the Big G’s presence is the perfect entree into mainstream adoption. You’re right … an email system making it more intuitive will be the home run RSS is awaiting, but I still think more and more are converting every day. I just hope it’s at a faster pace that most of us think.

    As for the marketing-oriented name, I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  • Kristen

    Jason- Thank you so much for the nice birthday wish and the great slideshow. Your explanation of RSS is awesome. Makes it much easier to explain to clients that should be using it.

  • Bigg Success

    Jason, what do you mean by “Pull UGC without users – Flickr tags, Youtube tags?” Thanks…

  • Jason Falls

    Kristen – You’re welcome. Thanks for the idea.

    Bigg Success — Using tags and/or RSS feeds you can pull content from image and video sharing sites and imbed them on your blog/website/etc. Therefore your site might not have users but you can still have user generated content as they are generating that content for other sites and services. For instance, if I worked for, say, Folgers, I could pull YouTube videos and Flickr images that users tagged “Folgers” or “coffee” and pull that content into my site.

  • Nick Huhn

    Great way to blend RSS and KISS, Jason. Since I downloaded Awasu [desktop RSS reader client] almost 5 years ago I thought to myself, “wow, this is the next outlook!” but it seems as though it has yet to materialize in a meaningful way.

    I think the latest versions of Outlook – along with virtually all modern browsers – support RSS very well, so I think we’re just waiting for the IT departments of most sizable companies to catch on and upgrade to new versions of Office/Outlook and/or non-Internet Exploder browsers. Once this happens, I bet we’ll see a more rapid adoption of RSS whether the users know it or not.

    Until then, I’d guess and hope that most people would continue to embrace RSS unknowingly within their iGoogle, MyYahoo, Netvibes, etc home pages.

    I also think we need frequently visited sites to employ cookies or some other mechanism to invite regular users to subscribe in the way that MyBlogLog does. Any good at javascript? ;)

  • Jason Falls

    Javascript? Hell, I don’t even drink coffee.

    But good idea! You’re right. Until the average computer user is using it without really knowing it, it won’t be mainstream. But man, what a great world it will be once it is.

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