According to MarketingSherpa, at least 75 million consumers and business folk are using RSS feeds in the U.S. and the UK. The catch, only 17 – 32 percent of them *know* they’re using RSS.

Significant? You bet. As the article puts it, we’re beyond the “cool” techie factor of RSS and into its utility as a news gathering tool. Most of these RSS users are not subscribing to blogs, BTW. They’re using RSS to subscribe to updates from news sites like USAToday or the National Geographic or NPR or… for Burpee  to alert you about the “seed of the day” (so you can purchase it online!). Or for Travelocity to alert you when the fare to your favorite destination drops by at least 20 percent. Again, to spur online sales.

This is why RSS (aka Web feeds you subscribe to) will change the way
you use the Web. RSS is the Web-on-demand. Subscribing via RSS means
you get the latest, most up-to-date version of the info you want. And
you get it when and where you choose to receive it. On your computer,
through a Web-based service, through your cell phone or your PDA.

But forget the annoying acronym.

What’s important is what you can do with RSS.

Another example from the article, you can enter search terms for a specific medical condition or disease into the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed site. [Click here to start your search. Enter your search phrase into the the search bar at the top of the page; hit Go.]

After the search results come up, you can “save” them as an RSS
feed. Load that feed information into whatever RSS newsreader you’re
using. And presto, you’ll get continued updates.

Note: run, don’t walk to read MarketingSherpa’s article about RSS usage and how to get folks to sign up for your RSS feed. (Free access to until March 2, 2006.) Great tips, great examples.

A key tip: always link your RSS icon to an interim page explaining how to sign up for your feeds. Examples: MarketingSherpa’s RSS info page. The BlogWrite RSS info page. (Mine is not a “custom” page. It’s created automatically by I don’t think it’s as clear as one you create yourself.)

Useful Link (courtesy MarketingSherpa)

Links to Nielsen/NetRatings and Yahoo/Ipsos studies & charts on RSS usage