There’s been a lot of crying and screaming in the past few days since Google said it would close Google Reader on July 1st.
Personally, it’s a hassle for those of us that rely on RSS for collecting information from our favorite blogs and websites.
But what does it mean professionally? Let’s put our blogger/publisher caps on and talk about what this news means for us, and how we should respond. Because if we don’t, the end of Google Reader could have an impact on our ability to get information out to a very important group of people.
Impact Of Google Reader’s Demise On Bloggers
Let’s get these two things out of the way:
- RSS is not dead.
- Blogging/Publishing is not dead.
Neither RSS nor blogging is dead. Every WordPress install (and other blog platforms, too, I assume) includes an RSS feed by default, and that’s not going to change. But a primary way that some of your readers access your content is dying. And this is a very important group of your readers — information mavens, people that have gone out of their way to say “I want to know what you publish” and, in many cases, people that are very likely to want to share what you publish with others.
These folks matter.
So the demise of Google Reader isn’t an excuse to stop publishing content; it’s a call to action to not only keep publishing and blogging, but also to make it as easy as possible for that important group of people to continue receiving your content.
What Publishers Should Do About Google Reader’s Demise
There are three things that I think online publishers should do right away to minimize any negative impact from Google Reader’s shut down on July 1:
1.) Educate readers about their options.
RSS isn’t mainstream, so this is an opportunity to let existing subscribers know about other RSS reader options, and to educate non-RSS users about the benefits of following your feed. I wrote a list of 12 Google Reader alternatives on Marketing Land, and there are several more suggestions in the comments of that article.
2.) Start offering email subscriptions. Now.
If you’re not already offering readers the chance to get your posts via email, start now. And whether you’re doing that already or not, let your readers know how it works and invite them to start subscribing.
The folks at Naked Security just did a really nice job of inviting readers to sign up for their email list. Follow their lead.
3.) Offer your content through appropriate social channels.
You’re probably already doing this to some degree, but can you do it better?
Here’s what I mean: I’m on Twitter, and I’m betting that a fair amount of my blog readers already follow me there. But on Twitter, I tweet about a lot more than SEO and online marketing. If you’re not interested in tweets about sports, U2 and music in general, and all kinds of other things, you’ve probably stopped following me.
My solution? I’m giving serious thought to starting a Twitter account specifically for this blog so that people who only want to learn about my latest articles can follow that and avoid following my personal account.
Can you do the same thing for your blog? It might help you keep (or even gain) readers in the wake of Google Reader’s demise.
I’m also thinking about setting up a Facebook Page specifically for this blog and for online marketing content. My current Facebook use is purely personal. I don’t use it at all to promote my articles on this blog, on Marketing Land/Search Engine Land or anywhere else, for that matter.
Don’t buy into the “sky is falling” crap about blogging and RSS being dead because Google Reader is going away. It’s not true. And I actually think this is a golden opportunity to educate readers about the benefits of joining your email list, or following your content-specific accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or whatever social media channels make sense.
RSS has never reached the mainstream, but the people using it are important. They’re info mavens that want to know when you’ve published something new. As a blogger/publisher, you’d be wise to go out of your way to make sure they can continue to get updates from you one way or another.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)