What’s the Difference Between an RSS Feed and an RSS Reader?

RSS feeds and feed readers exist to make your life simpler. They allow you to get the content you want, when you want it. And they cut out wasted time searching for updates on your favorite sites. Plus, if you own a website, blog, YouTube channel, or produce any content in any other way, RSS feeds and readers make it easier for you to keep readers, increase readers, and keep readers coming back for more.

What Is an RSS Feed?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. In its most basic form, an RSS feed is a web feed that allows you to access content and updates in an XML file format. These simple text files are submitted to feed directories, and that allows subscribers to see updates to content in real time.

What Is an RSS Reader?

Basically, an RSS reader, or news aggregator, is your new favorite app. It lets you access all the updated content from your favorite websites in one place.

But isn’t this what social media does?

Well, sort of. The difference is in the algorithms. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and everything else uses algorithms to deliver you the content you’ve subscribed to in the way the algorithm thinks you want to see it. (Plus ads. And your great aunt’s cats. Again.) And on social media, you’re also subject to see whatever your friends are posting and sharing.

Below is a short video from Common Craft that explains what RSS is and how a feed reader can help you save time and stay organized! 

With an RSS reader, you’re in the driver’s seat. You pick the RSS feeds you want to follow, and then you see only content from those websites. And you’ll see it all. Everything that gets published to a website that’s in your reader will be shown in your reader. So you never miss anything. Plus, it’s updated in real time, so you’re up to date as soon as you sign in.

Seeing everything in one place makes your content consumption so much easier. You can quickly scan over all the headlines from all your favorite sources and determine if you want to go more in depth or not. And when you’re done? You’re done. You haven’t missed anything.

And because there are both web-based feed readers and mobile feed readers (plus desktop, browser built-in, and email feed readers), you can suit your feed reader reading to whatever fits your lifestyle best.

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