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March 14, 2013

Google's Killing Its RSS Reader. How Will Your Readership Survive?



There are times when the leader of a business knows he or she has to kill off a product. In some cases, this is celebrated. In others, it's met with many loud groans and much sadness.

Google Reader is a perfect example of the latter. Widely used, widely adored, free to all - but on July 1, it gets the proverbial knock on the head from Google. This simple, lovable web service is going to that big farm upstate to chase rabbits. Yeah, that's it. Rabbits.

Hopefully, this won't affect the "CU Blogosphere" too much. Heaven knows there are plenty of places to get your fill, including CU Insight, the CU Watercooler, various Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds...the list goes on, but you get the point. Just because Google Reader dies, that doesn't mean the stories stop coming.

But for those RSS-heavies, it's going to be a rough few months. Where will they go for their stories, their thought pieces, their news?

Humbly, I submit a few suggestions.

  1. Outlook Users, Rejoice! - I'm forever in Outlook (Neil Diamond, where are you? I've got a song for you and you don't even need a new melody!), so the Reader news doesn't bother me that much - I had one of my Nerds-in-Residence set up my RSS feeds in my Outlook. It's a simple, painless process and it means you can use Outlook for more that just email churn and booking meetings. Here's the Outlook team on how to set it up for yourself.
  2. Mac Users, Hit the App Store - The Mac App store has a few dozen RSS-app options, a few of them free, the rest only a small amount. One thing I did notice - many apps are "Google Reader Apps", meaning they integrated with Google Reader. Wonder if their developers will try and adapt or simply close up shop.

    One highly recommended app, Fever, is $30 (yikes!) and its developer has stated, publicly, he really doesn't have the time to work on it. Plus, you self-host the service. A big turn-off for the non-technical.

    So what are our lonely Mac Lovers going to do? I turned to my go-to on things like this, Jimmy Marks, and - after several minutes of teasing him (he's a big-time Google Reader Believer) - asked what he planned on doing.

    "Feedly's probably the way to go. It's not as cut-and-dry as Reader is, but it focuses on the newest content and lets you navigate around on your terms. I don't use Mac's Mail app, or I'd do what you did and add the RSS feeds there. Now stop throwing paperclips at me, I'm in a bad enough mood as it is!"

    (Editor's Note -- I wasn't throwing paperclips at him. That you know of.) 

  3. See If Your Favorite Blogs Have Social Feeds/"Updates by Mail" Options - Many blogs have their RSS items go directly to their Twitter or Facebook feed. Others still use direct-to-inbox delivery to get the message out when it's time. The CU Soapbox's posts go to a mail audience in the hundreds, many of whom prefer to read their feed from the comfort of their email inbox. Giving people different points of entry doesn't do anything to the results - if they're reading and engaged, you're doing your job.
  4. Google's Cleaning Up, Why Don't You? - If you're anything like me, you've gathered quite a few blogs over the years. Many of them stop posting and you just sort of forget about them. Go ahead and delete those feeds. This frees you from the struggle of bothering with too many blogs and sets you up to find something new and exciting out there in the blogging world.

There are plenty of people who want to petition Google to save Reader. They're probably the same kind of folks who are waiting on that Arrested Development movie. Want my take? Let's give Reader a good send-off and then move on to bigger and better. There are always better apps out there, and if there aren't, it's our duty as lovers of technology to create them. Necessity is the mother of invention.

As far as how this applies to credit unions' blogs...you went to all that trouble to create a blog or a news feed or an events feed. Will people still follow it when Reader bites the dust? Better be sure they do. Find new ways to get the same content to the same people without the crutch of Google Reader and you're good to go.


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I just switched to Feedly, and it has been fantastic!

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