Have you seen these orange 'things' on websites and ever wondered what they are? The other day, I was giving some advice to a newbie blogger, and as she had put 'an orange thing' on her new blog, I asked her which RSS reader she used to read other blogs.
Her answer was typical of many people - ".....every other blog had an 'orange thing' on it so I thought I should put one on my blog as well, but I don't know what it is - I just thought it had to be there!"
If you are already familiar with RSS, then fantastic, I hope you use it effectively as an information gathering tool (but what about a recruitment tool?).
If you don't then let me explain what it is and why you should be using it today - whether as part of a social recruiting strategy, a news aggregator, a competitor tracker or a way to keep track of specific followers, subjects or hashtags on Twitter.
So what is RSS?
RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’, and it is a technology that is being used by millions of web users around the world to keep track of their favorite websites in an easy way.In simple terms, what RSS technology does is to get websites to tell you when they have updated their information. Then it 'collects' these updates for you and stores them in a suitable place for you to read, at a time when it is convenient for you.
It saves you time and helps you to get the information you want quickly after it was published. Many people describe it as a ‘news feed’ that you subscribe to.
The best analogy is that of a 'subscription’. It’s like subscribing to a magazine that is delivered to you periodically but instead of it coming in your physical mail box each month when the magazine is published it is delivered to your ‘RSS Reader’ every time your favorite website updates its information.
How to Use RSS
You first need to get is an RSS Reader - which will allow you to read the RSS feeds you subscribe to. I use Google Reader and it works very well, as it looks like an email inbox which makes it very easy to read. But there are other that you can use such as Feedly which works very well, and of course you can use your outlook to 'collect' RSS feeds.
There are many feed readers going around with a variety of approaches and features - however if you are a newbie then starting with Google Reader is as good as place as any, because you can insert it into your iGoogle and have the reader on your iGoogle homepage (which is very useful indeed!)
As you subscribe to feeds you’ll see that unread entries from the sites you’re tracking will be marked as bold. As you click on them you’ll see the latest update and can read it right there in the feed reader. You are given the option to click through to the actual site or move onto the next unread item - marking the last one as ‘read’.
The best way to learn how to use Google Reader is to simply subscribe to some feeds and give it a go. Both have helpful help sections to get you up and running.
Web Site RSS Buttons
When you have been on different websites, you may have noticed a lot of little orange buttons and widgets appearing like the one here. They come in all shapes and sizes as can be seen in the image at the top.
There are plenty more - but any time you see any of these buttons or anything like them it means that the site you are viewing almost certainly has a feed that you can subscribe to.
In most cases it’s as simple as either copying and pasting the link associated with the button into your RSS Reader or clicking the button and following the instructions to subscribe using the feed reader of your choice (shown here).
Most of the time your Reader will do the the work for you - Google is good at this!
You will see underneath the header Current Feed Content a list of all the latest feeds - with my last blog post showing there.Once you’ve done this and have subscribed to a few feeds you’ll begin to see unread items in your Feed Reader and you can start reading.
As a starting point here is my RSS feed for this blog http://feeds.feedburner.com/SironaSays
Once you have started using RSS to collect all the websites and blogs you like reading, you will wonder how you ever coped without it!
How to use RSS as part of your social recruiting strategy
Many people underestimate the power of RSS, and recruiters are no exception. I have previously mentioned the need to listen and monitor to what is being said about you (a key part of any social recruiting strategy), your brand and your company in the marketplace. RSS is a great way to track this.
First set up three new folders in your RSS Reader - name, brand and company name (and more if you want).
Next go to Google Alerts and set up three sets of alerts - direct the alerts to your Reader to collect the information. Then do the same with Socialmention.com (this is a more social media focused monitoring tool).
There you go, done! You now have a self updating information source of where your various names are being mentioned on the internet.
Ever thought of tracking your competitors or key industry players? Well you can do it the same way. But this time, track down their blogs and/or latest news feeds on their websites - remember to look out for the orange symbol - and subscribe to those in your Reader, again with a separate folder for easy management.
Most people haven't thought of this. If there are key people on Twitter that you are tracking (new clients,
candidates etc) or you have a search string you find to be particularly useful, then you can subscribe to this information in your Reader. On the side of every Twitter search (shown here) is the orange symbol. That is the feed for that search or tweet stream, and if you subscribe to that in your Reader, you will have all new tweets appear in your Reader.
This is especially useful if you track companies/individuals across different timezones, as you would certainly miss out on Tweets otherwise.
I am a massive fan of RSS, and wouldn't be without using it, as it allows me to track and read 40-50 blogs without having to go to each blog in turn. So make your life easier today and get yourself using RSS!