Internet-based applications come and go, some faster than the others. If there’s one thing technology has shown the world over the years is being obsolete is always just around the corner. It is very rare for the demise of an online based app to cause an uproar among users simply because there are just too many alternatives out there.
Google Reader is one of these rarities. Recently, the online juggernaut announced that it will be killing its RSS product effective on July 1 as part of its spring cleaning initiative. Google offered the following explanation:
There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.
There was an outpour of disappointment and anger among “citizens” who have been loyal to the RSS product since it was launched 8 years ago in 2005. One of the most common sentiments against this decision is that Google Reader definitely has more following than Google+, but of course, it can only be speculated that Google would want to be up there with Facebook and Twitter in the social media race. One of the most radical protests against killing Google Reader is a petition in change.org – a platform where people speak out versus social injustices, political policies and other humanitarian campaigns. And there is the petition to keep Google Reader alive, in the same category as lobbies to end global hunger, appeals to end violence and pleas for better health care.
A Post-Google Reader Content Curation Era
Content marketers and other professionals relying on content curation are some of the most affected individuals with this new development. What Google Reader contributed over its would be short-lived existence is the convenience of having a one-stop portal where marketers and journalists can access all content published by the blogs and other content providers they follow. In today’s internet marketing era wherein ‘content is king,’ keeping abreast with the latest and hottest topics in your industry is extremely vital.
Content builds trust, it creates thought leadership, it shows your brand’s level of expertise in your niche and it’s a powerful tool of engagement and conversion. While proprietary content is always welcomed, joining in on the current conversations is important in marketing as well and this is where Google Reader comes into play.
An Equally Painful Headache for Content Publishers
If you have a business blog – which, hopefully you do or else you’re doomed –the death of Google Reader may just be as problematic. What you need to do right now is to determine how many of your blog readers subscribe to your blog via Google Reader and you can do this via Feedburner statistics. You can also subscribe to your own blog via Google Reader, go to Feed Settings and click on View Details and Statistics. This will show you the number of readers or subscribers you can potentially lose when Google Reader shuts down on July 1. This also means that you are losing potential customers or clients and ultimately, losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in potential revenue.
How to Move Forward?
Unfortunately for marketers, there’s little time to mourn Google Reader’s tragic fate and even though the petition at change.org gets all the signatures it needs, it’s highly unlikely that Google will overturn its decision, unless of course the public uproar starts an avalanche of events that will jeopardize Google’s best interest.
The reality is, the show will go on without Google Reader. You can either whine over spilled milk or move on with your content marketing efforts.
Use the Situation to Encourage Email Subscriptions
If you’ve been providing high quality content that adds value to the your readers’ overall internet browsing experience, then they would still want to continue receiving your content updates, with or without Google Reader. You can use this opportunity to compel your avid followers to continue receiving updates from you via email. Compel them by stating the fact that you will be receiving first dibs on the latest content directly from you and that you treasure your relationship with them and that unlike Google Reader, you’re looking down the road and seeing years of providing content of high value to them.
Be Proactive in Offering Google Reader Alternatives
That being said, you also have to face the fact that a lot of your subscribers won’t give you their email addresses and you can’t force them to. A viable and equally effective alternative is to proactively educate them about the other RSS options they can migrate to.
If you go this route, it’s important that you educate your subscribers first on how they can import their Reader data including their subscriptions using Google Takeout. By starting with this, you are showing them how convenient it is to maintain their subscription to your content whatever RSS reader they choose.
Then present the alternatives. Here’s an unbreakable rule when you do this: do your due diligence. By recommending these RSS readers, you are essentially giving them a form of endorsement. Don’t just rely on what you read on the web. Before making your suggestions, try it out and experience the platforms for yourself. Take note of the positives and negatives and mention these in your recommendation. You can rank them according to your own preference but put a disclaimer that you are making these suggestions based on your own experience and not because you’re an affiliate of the said third party application.
At the end of the day, what you want to avoid is to recommend a crappy service to your readers.
Using Social Media for Content Curation
If you’re on the other side of the fence, meaning you’re a content marketer looking for an alternative third party RSS reader where you can easily access the latest content in your industry so you can talk about them as well, the same thing mentioned above can be applied. Some of the popular Google Reader alternatives are Feedly, Newsblur, and Flipboard.
However, if you’re looking for a quick fix, here’s our suggestion: social media.
Facebook and Twitter are not exactly RSS readers. Here’s the reality though. If the blogs or content sites you’re following are expert marketers themselves, it’s almost 100% guaranteed that they are pushing and promoting their content through Facebook and Twitter. Of course, it’s still best to use a dedicated RSS reader, but while you’re still deciding or waiting for the perfect Google Reader replacement (there are rumors that there are groups urging Google to open source the technology), Twitter and Facebook are not bad alternatives.
Google Reader is NOT the Be All and End All
The overwhelming uproar on the imminent death of Google Reader is testament that it has served its users well over the last 8 years. If you’re deeply saddened by this decision by Internet giant Google, go ahead. Take a few seconds to be perplexed, shed a few tears if you must.
But you cannot let your content marketing die with Google Reader.