Several of the social media technologies that are getting so much attention these days are evolutions of the species. Newsgroups = blogs. Downloadable mp3s = podcasts. AVIs = vcasts (aka vodcasts or vidcasts – the dust is still settling). The “difference inside” that makes social media relevant to business is a little something they call RSS.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Under the hood, RSS is a bunch of technologies that allow you -- the reader, listener or viewer -- to subscribe to content you want. It usually appears beside an article or sound file as a little orange button. Click it and you subscribe to the feed. Thereafter, refreshed content from that source appears in your browser, automatically. So RSS, in fact, is a simple, no-frills contract of engagement between you and the author – you want this content delivered to your digital door until such time as you break the connection (unsubscribe).

As a marketer who goes back into the last century, my challenge and strategy has always involved ways to make a real and meaningful connection between clients and their customers. The tactics have been media relations, Web content, traditional ad campaigns, viral marketing, tracking and responding to prospect and buyer behavior, e-mail list exploitation, trade shows, sales collaterals … the list goes on.

Most of the tactics above are still relevant. Depending on budget, they remain part of an organization’s arsenal of required marketing activities. But RSS adds an interactive dimension to the mix that, when used appropriately, can forge a bond that marketers only dreamed of in the 90s.

Imagine a business environment where you and your colleagues engage in a conversation with potential and existing customers that is not only welcome but solicited. RSS makes that possible.

For the technically minded interested in the mechanics and history of RSS, try this wikipedia article.

(Blog entry by Philip Hogarth. Philip is a Producer at market2world communications inc.)