Bloggers and online marketers are forever trumpeting the wonders of blogs as a business and marketing tool. But blogs will only be able to live up to the dreams of its disciples if they start being read by average Joe from the mass market. Some work still needs to be done if RSS and blogs are to be pushed over the tipping point and become the widely used marketing machine that everybody believes/hopes they will be.
RSS is going to need a charm offensive before people in the street even know what it is, let alone start using it. You only have to look at the makeup of the top 50 most popular blogs (mainly about gadgets, politics and marketing) to know that the mass market have yet to start reading blogs in their great numbers. Or maybe there is just a huge gap for blogs on paying your mortgage and cutting your credit card bills that nobody has spotted?
At a recent Ã¢â‚¬ËœBeers and InnovationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ event in London the future of RSS and blogging was discussed and it was universally declared, yet again, how fantastic they are. The speakers also all agreed that their growth amongst the non-web savvy would continue to stall until RSS becomes more accessible and easier to use. Hopefully, when Internet Explorer 7 launches later this year it will go some way to correcting this problem.
Even when the hurdle of accessibility is cleared there are still other problems preventing RSS from becoming a business tool that can be effectively managed.
As any marketer will tell you, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t monetise what you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t measure,Ã¢â‚¬Â and this is an issue faced by RSS/web feeds. As outlined by TechcrunchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recent post: itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s virtually impossible to know exactly how many people are subscribed to your feed, let alone how many are actually reading your posts.
There are so many different aggregators and methods of capturing RSS content that there is currently no way of compiling all your data into a central reporting function, as with email. This makes it tricky for marketers arguing their case for the extra funding needed for this radical new marketing tactic. There is simply currently no way of measuring the ROI of blogging in traditional quantifiable terms (other than organic SEO and increased traffic of course).
RSS will soon be far easier to use, which will help it to start reaching out to the non-web savvy. If you can bookmark a site then you will be able to click on a button to save its feed in your browser. But developing a universal standard of tracking your blogÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s subscription and readership – with the level of reporting offered by email – might still hold back its tipping point amongst businesses for a while yet.