How we use RSS and Blogs at Webmail.us

RSS and blogging are two of the most-hyped buzz words in technology right now. Even if you’re someone like my mom, you’ve most likely heard of the terms “blog” and “blogger” even if you don’t know where or why. To put all of the buzz and hysteria to the side for a minute, I wanted to point out how RSS and blogging have made serious impacts on our business over the past six months. Here are some of the ways we’ve adopted the technologies and some of the resulting impacts they have made:

1. Our press releases are now available via RSS feeds. Now anyone that wants to follow our progress can do so without having to come back to our web site every week. I realize that competitors can do this too, but in all reality, if they’re any good at what they do, I have no doubt they’ll find our news regardless. So why not make it easier for the good guys, right?

2. After reading this post by Brad Feld, we started a Blog Mentions section on our web site, in addition to Press Coverage. There aren’t too many mentions quite yet, but I’m sure this section will grow over time.

3. As a company we have three blogs (all via Typepad). My blog — I’ve been an active blogger for several months now. I’ve had several people contact me after ready my stuff – job seekers, potential partners and the biggest newspaper in the region even put me on the front page for being a blogger – there are some perks to being technology savvy in southwest Virginia. 🙂

4. Our company blog — This is just getting started, but as I mentioned last week, we’re really going to use this to welcome the outside world into our offices. We hope this proves to be a strong communication channel for our current and future customers.

5. Our internal blog — This is a password-protected blog we use for internal communication purposes. This is now how we make internal announcements and post sales tips, product updates, bug fixes, support and pricing information, etc. as well as where we keep our growing list of preferred food and drinks that we store in the office.

6. We now use an internal wiki hosted by JotSpot. They have RSS-enabled their service so that anytime a new change is made to the wiki I can get an RSS feed showing me what was changed (if I want to). Their product is still in beta and improving quickly – something you might want to check out.

7. After seeing this post by Sandy Hamilton at Newsgator, we are now in the process of RSS-enabling our internal sales pipeline management tool. That way when a new business gets added or a new update is made, it will produce a password protected RSS feed for whoever wants to subscribe (i.e. me, my CFO and my sales manager).

8. I personally subscribe to more than 25 RSS feeds that I read daily. Less than 10% of those feeds are from traditional media sources. The others are from Venture Capitalists (hey, there are some smart ones out there), fellow executives, and “bloggers,” who I don’t know what category they fall under. I also have a few search based subscriptions so that any time specific key words are mentioned on the net, I get the feeds. These are set up using Yahoo’s RSS search tools – unfortunately, I don’t see Google doing this yet or else I would use them over Yahoo. Others in the company are starting to get into RSS feeds too. RSS is making us smarter, quicker. That is a good thing.

There are probably a few things I’m forgetting about here, but you get the point. And as you can see above, the ideas for two of our initiatives came from bloggers – that’s pretty neat if you ask me.

As the adoption of RSS and blogging continue to grow, we’re also investigating how certain tools will fit into our product and service portfolio. I don’t think these technologies are going to overrun email by any means, but I do see a lot of potential synergy down the road. If nothing else, this is one exciting industry to be a part of.

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