RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds have always been considered to be a simple way to deliver changing content to websites. The benefit for firms is that the site stays “fresh” leading to more page views, longer visitor sessions and (it is hoped, in the case of law firms), impressed site visitors who decide to form an economic relationship with the firm.
RSS feeds are usually not expensive and some material may be obtained free.
Traditional RSS, however, has some downsides:
- The content is identical in all cases, which makes differentiation by the firm difficult.
- Much of the information provided was of dubious value to law firms. Many of the RSS offerings seem to consist mainly of material designed for other areas (eg accountancy) or press releases adding little or no value to the website.
For a law firm to add material which does not “fit” with the image of the firm and which is not specific to the legal market undermines the proposition the firm is making to the viewer. It is better to have no news on your website than the wrong or old news.
Recently, however, there has been some new thinking as to how RSS can be used. By combining RSS (supplied content) which is flexible and adding in simple content management, it is possible for firms to have RSS pages which are not “cookie cutter” versions and which appear to the viewer to be unique.
This can be done by:
- adding a simple CMS which allows the addition of the firm’s own material and content categories, which is mixed into the ”˜provided’ content;
- categorising the RSS content, so the firm picks the categories on view. This means different firms show different material;
- breaking content streams into different feeds, so different sorts of material appear on different pages; and
- (crucially) making the material redistributable and remixable.
It is the redistribution of material which allows firms to leverage themselves, by placing their ”˜mixed’ RSS on other sites. This allows firms to get in front of the clients of their clients. A firm could create RSS feeds for its clients with local business, charity law or family law news for example. This material is thus widely distributed and, unlike social networking sites, is directed at a relevant audience.
Joe Reevy runs Words4Business which creates many types of copy for law firms (including over 700 articles a year) and offers web-based solutions such as RSS feeds and e-newsletters.