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How to Manage and Read RSS Feeds

Overwhelmed by RSS? Here are 6 ways to manage and read them.

By
Aliza Sherman,
September 17, 2009
Episode #070

 

Hi there, The Digital Marketer here, ready to help you put the power of the Internet and technology to work for your business.

I am drowning in RSS feeds. You, too? So much content is out there and trying to consume it all really does feel like drinking from a firehose.

How to Manage and Read RSS Feeds

Though Google Reader has dominated the market in terms of feed readers, it isn't necessarily the best tool out there. Each feed aggregator and reader has its own interface, features, and functionality so your personal preference should really dictate which feed reader you use.

If Google Reader isn't doing it for you, here are six other readers that might be more up your alley. (And if you aren’t sure what an RSS feed is and need more information, check out one of my http://digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com/rss-syndicate-content.aspx" previous episodes on RSS feeds.)

Six Ways to Get Your RSS Feeds

Here are 6 different ways to get your RSS feeds.

1. Snackr: Snackr is an Adobe Air application so it's cross-platform. Snackr is literally an RSS ticker that runs across the bottom of your desktop and pulls random headlines from your feeds. If you see a title that interests you, just click on the title and the item opens and is readable in the Snackr window. You can add feeds manually to Snackr or import an OPML file. OPML stands for Outline Processor Markup Language and is a file format for outlines such as lists of feeds. You can export an OPML file out of one reader that allows export such as Google Reader and into another - like Snackr.

2. ShareFire: Like Snackr, ShareFire is also an Adobe Air application and it's Open Source. It acts as a news aggregator and lets you easily share stories using AIM, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Delicious, Digg, Newsvine, and much more. You can import the OPML file from another feed reader or add feeds manually. ShareFire has a nice all-in-one interface: folders organizing your feeds on the left, headlines on top, a summary view, and a site view where you can read the whole post. Plus all the different sharing buttons are immediately accessible.

3. NetVibes: NetVibes takes a personal homepage or portal approach and lets you move boxes around a web page and feed different content into each box, including blog RSS feeds. NetVibes also has an extension for Firefox to add feeds to your page with a click of a button on your browser. I tried importing an OPML file into NetVibes but wasn't able to get it to work. Oh well, not every tool works well for everyone. One of my Twitterfriends - @kevinoshea - says he loves being able to toggle his view of each feed as an inlaid article or view the original blog page similar to a page within a frame. He also loves the keyboard shortcuts to move quickly around a page.

4. PageFlakes: PageFlakes is like NetVibes where you can pull in news feeds, blog feeds, your email feeds, you name it into a single Web page, and then move them around easily by dragging and dropping the boxes containing each feed. PageFlakes also has a Reader view which has a similar interface to ShareFire in the Outlook view and also offers a "Newspaper" view, all entirely Web-based. You can import an OPML file, however, I also found it very confusing to configure--though I was eventually able to access my feeds. With something like ShareFire and Snackr, everything just pours in and is immediately viewable.

5. NetNewsWire: NetNewsWire by NewsGator Technologies is for Macs and the iPhone. You can download it to your desktop or grab a free version from iTunes. After downloading the desktop software, I opened the application, entered my Google username and password, and almost instantly all my feeds were synched.

Though NetNewsWire lacks the robust built-in sharing features of ShareFire, it is easy to use. You can post to a blog, to Delicious, and-- more recently-- to Instapaper. I've had the NetNewsWire iPhone app on my iPhone for a year but as of this month, the NetGator account that is synched to my iPhone will be eliminated and NetNewsWire and the iPhone app will sync with Google Reader. Twitterfriend @adamjury says, "You can also choose to sync only certain feeds to the iPhone version -- for example, only your work feeds, only your non-work feeds, etc.”

6. Email: Yes, email. Believe it or not, I still use email to subscribe to some blog RSS feeds. Reading email is far more ingrained in my brain than going through RSS feeds in readers. Many people still feel the same way, so if you want to offer multiple options for people to subscribe to your blog, you may want to burn a feed using Feedburner and give them both feed reader and email subscription options.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Bottom Line: Repeat after me: I don't need to read everything. I don't need to subscribe to everything. Seriously, you'll do far better subscribing to a dozen well-chosen feeds than trying to take in thousands. But if you can't resist, using the right tool can help make those thousands of feeds easier to digest.

Contact Me

That's all we have time for today. Visit the show’s website at digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com for links to all of the sites mentioned in the show. If you'd like to ask a question or request a topic for The Digital Marketer, email me at digitalmarketer@quickanddirtytips.com or leave a message by calling 206-339-6279.

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Resources

1. Snackr - http://snackr.net/

2. NetVibes - http://www.netvibes.com/

3. NetNewsWire - http://www.netnewswire.com/

4. ShareFire Adobe Air Open Source - http://www.sharefirereader.com/

5. LazyFeed - http://www.lazyfeed.com/

7. PageFlakes - http://www.pageflakes.com/

8. Feedburner - http://www.feedburner.com/

9. Feed a Fever - http://www.feedafever.com/

RSS image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

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