In this SimpleFeed Screencast learn how to use RSS Feeds to expand the distribution of your Social Media Marketing content.
Today we look at RSS Feeds in Windows 8. We review two new “Live Tiles” apps, FeedReaders and Bento. We also look at RSS subscription in IE for the Windows 8 desktop and the common feedlist.
In our inaugral YouTube Video we explain Content Syndication to web sites using RSS Feeds.
Like so much “dead” Web 2.0 technology Podcasting has quietly grown into a very successful medium. Bottom line is people listen to podcasts while commuting, exercising or just sitting at their desks. At SimpleFeed our customers routinely see downloads in the tens of thousands. That is nothing if you are CBS, but if you are a B-B marketer or niche retailer, that is great! And it is poised to get better.
Over the last five years, Apple rode its iPod/Phone/Pad hardware and iTunes media synergies to podcast distribution dominance. With the growth of other categories in iTunes, it is hard to find the Podcast section and once there, challenging to search, discover and subscribe.
That ends today with Apple breaking out Podcasting into its own iPhone/iPad App, called, Podcasts. After install you are greeted with two sections, “Podcasts” where any existing subscriptions reside and “Top Stations.”
Under the Top Stations section, users can quickly flip through sections to discover, listen and subscribe to new podcasts. New audio controls include the ability to skip back 10 seconds or move forward 30 ala DirecTV. In the upper right is a “Catalog” button which takes you back to the iTunes Podcast interface. Subscriptions are synced back to iTunes.
Off the Podcast tab click an icon for a subscribed podcast and you are taken to a smaller version of the familiar iTunes Podcast “Artist Page.” Here you can listen to podcasts instantly. Apple also add the ability to Tweet, iMessage or Email the Podcast as you listen. That is a nice feature which should make Podcasts more social and increase the virality of podcasting.
So if you have a podcasting program it is about to get better. If you never had a program think about publishing the sessions from your customer conference if you are a B-B company. If you are a B-C company public appearances, sponsorships, and really any audio product information is great. It is a cheap and effective way to market your offerings and it is about to get a big boost.
After an off-again/on-again rollout, the StreamGlider app is back on the market. Featuring a free, standard version as well as an ad-free pro version, it’s one of the latest entrants in the pantheon of news-and-social-media aggregators. How does it stack up against other go-to apps, such as Flipboard, Livestand, and Pulse?
The app opens to a clean matrix of images and headlines panning from left to right. Streams are stacked vertically down the page like filmstrips. Each stream is a different category – news, sports, tech, images – and each frame in the filmstrip is a feed.
Customizing streams and feeds is easy with intuitive, tap-to-add navigation. If the feed a user wants to add is featured on the landing pane, then they’re in luck – with a tap it appears in their stream. However, as the list of featured content providers is only about eight advertisers long, most likely users will need to browse for content at some point.
And this is where the app stumbles. While the app includes standard browsing buckets, several buckets don’t have many feeds from which to choose. If feeds readers wants are not on the list, they’ll need to do a search. But if their feed doesn’t advertise with StreamGlider, it won’t show up in a search. I tried all sorts of feed names and URLs, well known and obscure, and not one of them came up lucky. Even a search of “baseball” – an active topic with spring training around the corner – yielded nothing.
A similar mismatch occurs with StreamGlider’s social media sync. During start-up of both standard and pro versions, the app offers to sync with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube accounts. Though it goes through the process of login/password, it doesn’t automatically pass the content through to a stream. Readers can manually add content from social media accounts, such as activity on Facebook. And while StreamGlider streams updates, it won’t prowl for news and information based on social media preferences or patterns.
Social media streams notwithstanding, users ought to wonder: If StreamGlider limits content to that of featured advertisers, will browsers find the app relevant?
It could be that StreamGlider wants to be a slick, customizable transport vehicle, rather than an aggregator. According to the website, interested parties can distribute private-labeled or co-branded content via StreamGlider to closed audiences. This model could be interesting for companies looking for a sure-fire way to reach customers or prospects who opt in to get tailored relevant content, such as a private-labeled corporate news magazine. But whether the app has real value for both consumers and publishers will depend on how well it’s able to marry the right content with the right audience.
The Overall Verdict
For users: C. The interface is well designed and easy to navigate, but the app’s relevance really depends on whether a user’s interests align with the featured advertisers.
For publishers: C. It’s disappointing that StreamGlider apparently only picks up feeds from advertisers. However, StreamGlider as a private-label distribution mechanism (where independent parties use the StreamGlider front-end to deliver content) resolves the relevance gap for both users and publishers. That’s A-range territory.
After much anticipation and speculation, Google has finally released Currents—its mobile newsreader. Designed to distribute content via tablet and mobile devices, it fulfills its mission in Google’s typical understated, yet powerful way.
Readers sign in with their Google account credentials and Currents opens to a clean palette of Library icons along with all the reader’s Google Reader content. Information flows seamlessly across Google’s applications, so readers don’t waste time doing repetitive setup.
Adding subscriptions to the library is easy. Readers can search through a host of categories or by publication or RSS feed. Toggle to the Trending plate to view headlines and Library content along with a gallery of half-page images from each headline. Readers can watch the entire rotation or dive into an article.
A serious flaw: even though readers can sync with social media sites such as Facebook, Currents doesn’t use social media settings or activities to tailor content. And compared to Flipboard–which lets users browse their Facebook news in a visually rich, compelling way–Currents’ presentation of social media content falls flat.
If you’re a marketer, though, there’s a lot to like about Currents. Publishers are well supported through the Producer portal. Nearly anyone can quickly and easily set up digital content to flow to both Android and iOS platforms. You can design for tablets or phones and view how content will render across devices, and tie together content for a uniform deployment. It’s a big win for both large and small publishers.
As a content reader, Currents excels. But like so many straight-A students, Currents lacks depth outside its single focus. It doesn’t surprise or delight with unexpected but relevant content. It doesn’t woo with social media that could captivate readers to linger. And for that reason, Currents may not appeal to audiences hungry for the entertainment so effortlessly delivered by Flipboard and its peers.
The reader experience: B. Stellar functionality, beautiful rendering, clean and effortless navigation. A fantastic news reader; but at the end of the day, it’s just that: a news reader. Lacks the pep and verve of a full-life-view reader.
The publisher experience: A. If your publication or feed is out there, it’s easy for users to find it. And self-publishing digital content is easy and seamless across Android and iOS platforms.
Like so many others, I expected Yahoo!’s new Livestand iPad app to give Flipboard and the other personalized magazine and news apps a run for their money. And, Livestand entered the race with every conceivable advantage. Yahoo’s MyYahoo! property is the world’s most popular personalized information portal and RSS reader. And as the web leader in sports and finance, Yahoo has a vast, popular store of original and syndicated content. Yet, sadly, Livestand falls short.
It’s not all bad. The fit and finish are crisp. Yahoo! obviously exploited the talents of a truly pro team of graphic designers. The layout is clean, open, and airy, and the graphics are fresh and interactive. The display is split horizontally to accommodate a half-pane, swipe-to-browse visual menu. There’s very little verbal clutter – just topical pictures to browse.
Users can log in either using Yahoo! or Facebook accounts. I’ve been a Yahoo! user long enough that there’s lots of personal fodder on my MyYahoo! page: sports teams, weather, news groups, favorite modules. So I expected the personalization to be pretty good. I was disappointed by the content Livestand thought I’d like. Sports and parenting? Yes. But motor cyclist? Not even close.
Users can manually tune the personalization by adding subscriptions to blogs and magazines. Livestand presents a list of categories, including arts and culture, sports, news, and politics. Within each category, Livestand offers a choice of blogs and magazines. Choose a magazine and it’s stored in My Library. Choose a blog and it’s stored in the Personal Mix. It’s not clear why Yahoo! decided to split content this way.
Disappointingly, I not only had to manually tune my interests, but the basics as well. Since I logged in via My Yahoo!, I thought Livestand would at least know my location for things like weather. Not so. The app offered to grab a forecast based on the location fed from my iPad. When I declined, it didn’t display my default location but instead panned through various locations nationwide.
Publishers should note that Livestand has no information on getting your digital content to the app. Your customers can’t even add your RSS feed. Livestand seems to rely solely on the subscriptions users add to their Personal Mix. If your content is featured and someone selects it, you’re one of the lucky ones. But your customers can’t keyword search for content.
For marketers interested in tablet apps, Livestand is worth a look for the advertising, as it is the first of the tablet news aggregators with ads. Our friends at Toyota are currently running an ad on Livestand for the new Prius V. The ad is visually appealing and integrated well into the Livestand content. To see the complete ad, readers simply “tap to expand.” It’s a nice use of the tablet environment. While the ad is expanded, readers can “tap to animate” to learn more about the car in a whimsical game-like environment. Unfortunately the fun (and HTML 5) ends when you click through and land on the generic Prius page on the Toyota mobile site.
Overall, aside from having a promising ad-revenue-based business model, the app just doesn’t make sense. Livestand clearly doesn’t know a whole lot about me that I don’t tell it manually. And while it’s laid out neatly, the app really isn’t that intuitive to access or use. In short, Livestand fails to deliver on its promise.
The Final Verdict
The reader experience: C. It’s functional and pretty for users looking to browse content in pre-selected areas of interest. The depth of content is impressive. But for all that Livestand should know given its access to My Yahoo! and Facebook accounts, the apps is not really personalized.
The publisher experience: D. If your content is mainstream, it’s more likely to be picked up by Livestand. But if your content is something users have to search for, good luck.