Once adopted by a critical mass of internet users, RSS feeds will change interactive marketing permanently and in a big way. I predicted that the phase shift would happen when Microsoft releases the new Vista operating system, in the spring. Published reports suggest that the sea change begins much sooner, as in today. That’s when Microsoft’s new version of Internet Explorer (IE) begins distribution through free downloaded upgrades.
Here’s how Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion reports this news in his blog yesterday (The Day the Entire World Gets RSS):
As more people around the world start reading RSS feeds, big things will happen. [The orange RSS button on the new IE toolbar] will force everyone to begin integrating feed communication initiatives in their marketing and PR programs. News and blog posts are just the beginning. Couponing and all kinds of other communiques will go into feeds, as well as ads and more. That little orange button might look small, but boy is it big.
If you’re a marketer who (1) hasn’t started using RSS yet, and (2) doesn’t use IE regularly, you can still experience what RSS can offer. And you really must! Try the new, free Google Reader. That’s what I use and it’s terrific. Gina Trapani in the excellent blog LifeHacker.com compares this new feed reader to Bloglines, and she agrees that Google, although sometimes criticized for lackluster product introductions, really got it right with this recent product upgrade.
I have a theory that more people today will be setting up a new Google Reader account than ever before. Why? Because Microsoft has officially entered the RSS arena. As usual, Microsoft’s involvement will change everything. And that means that many who use Firefox or other IE competitors will realize that they can no longer sit on the sidelines and had better see what this RSS stuff is all about.