In June of 2005, podcasting took a major leap forward when iTunes 4.9, a mainstream desktop application, supported podcasts. And although the word “podcast” has yet to become a household name, today’s podcasters can thank Apple for the majority of their audiences, simply because the company added a feature into its popular music package.
The technology of RSS could use a similar boost. Most web-based publications have already enabled their content to be subscribed to via RSS, yet the masses still have no clue what that little orange square with white markings actually means.
But what if the ability to subscribe to RSS Feeds was incorporated into a popular mainstream desktop application? What if, instead of learning a new tool, mainstream users only had to learn a new feature in a tool that they use every day? If such an event happened, RSS might head toward meeting its full potential.
Well, step back ladies and gentlemen, that time is now. With the release of Microsoft’s Outlook 2007, RSS has the potential to escape from the microcosm of early-adopters and join millions of normal people.
This is what it looks like:
As you can see, the mail-folder now lists “RSS Feeds.” By right-clicking on this folder, a pull-down menu appears with an option to “Add a New RSS Feed.” Simply copy and paste a feed into the resulting field and you’re subscribed.
But the tool doesn’t stop at simply adding RSS feeds. It also helps users share them with its imaginatively named “Share This Feed” button.
With a single mouse-click, one can send an RSS Feed to another Microsoft Office 2007 user, who’ll get a message that looks like this:
By clicking on the “Add This Feed” button, the recipient can “one-click subscribe” to the referred RSS Feed.
David Meerman Scott, the author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, has just come out with a new ebook called The New Rules of Viral Marketing: How word-of-mouse spreads your ideas for free. I love the term “word-of-mouse,” because it describes perfectly the way viral distribution happens. People love passing hyperlinks onto one another through email, so doesn’t it make sense that if passing along an RSS Feed was just as easy that they’d do the same thing?
As corporations begin migrating to Microsoft Office 2007, RSS, just like podcasting will finally hit a tipping point — graduating from an obscure little orange and white button, to a productivity tool that is widely accepted by normal people.
As the New Media Evangelist in your company, are you ready for it?