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Google Reader’s Demise is Irrelevant for Blogs

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In this edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about the demise of Google Reader and how it’s overblown.

Back From Australia

316733 10151372330494480 889614968 n e1364065511270 Google Readers Demise is Irrelevant for BlogsYes, we’re returning to a weekly schedule of Baer Facts videos. I had to miss a couple weeks while doing a series of speaking engagements in Sydney that I parlayed into a family vacation. Here’s photographic evidence: me feeding a wallaby. Also, as I mentioned in the video, do NOT call it a koala “bear.” If overheard by an Australian zookeeper, you will be reprimanded and forced to endure a 15-minute lesson on the difference between bears and marsupials. You’ve been warned.

Google Reader is Dead and I Shrug My Shoulders

I came back from Down Under to discover that Google Reader is being discontinued by Google. Like many/most long-time social media users and bloggers, there was a time when Google Reader was one of the very most important pieces of software I used. I had hundreds of blog subscriptions, and checked Reader multiple times per day for inspiration, to find interesting posts to Tweet, and to provoke myself to comment on the work of other bloggers.

But those days are long gone.

I haven’t opened Google Reader in at least two years, and I know I’m not alone. Today, I use Twitter, Newsle, Linkedin and other sources to bubble up interesting content hither and yon. The Convince & Convert team uses Addvocate (#investor) to make sure we all see particularly worthwhile content, and to help propagate our daily One Social Thing email newsletter that goes out to 20,000+ marketers.

Google Reader was once a convenient and linear way to find blogs and blog posts. But the explosion of blog content (and utter lack of product enhancements from Google) made it unwieldy. So, most of us shelved it in favor of less linear, but more convenient, methods of monitoring and exploration.

I don’t have any data on this other than anecdotal, and I’d love to hear your personal stories in the comments. But, I’ll bet the vast majority of us visit more blogs today than ever before, but read each of them less consistently. My personal blogging consumption has moved from purposefully choosing off the menu to grazing the information buffet. How about you?

The real issue with the demise of Reader is what it says about Google, and whether it impacts our trust in the company going forward (outstanding post about that on The Economist).

Once Again, Email Wins

Back in the day, I used to “star” in Google Reader posts or blogs that I really liked. Today, for the handful of blogs (approximately 25) that I absolutely, positively do not want to miss, I make certain I see their content not by monitoring them on Twitter, but by subscribing to the blog via email. Once again, email – that most homely of old-skool technologies – proves to be indispensable because it is reliable and orderly in ways that social streams are not.

People are saying that Google Reader being shuttered is a nail in the coffin of blogging in general. I disagree entirely. If you love content, you’ll subscribe to content. Via email. Via social. Via mail. If the content is good enough, people will raise their hands to get it, period. It’s not about the software, it’s about relevancy, and it will always be so.

Sure, the demise of Google Reader may be the end of an era, but for me it was an era that ended a long time ago. And for you?

Related
  • http://www.jaskeller.wordpress.com Jason Keller

    I read this post via Google Reader. And it does matter to bloggers, because unless I adopt a new RSS reader like Feedly, I am not going to vehemently try to track down your blog, nor the hundreds of other blogs I follow. (And I am pretty nerdy about this stuff; think about how people who are less passionate about online content will change if they are currently a Google Reader user).

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      I disagree Jason. The blogs you REALLY love and care about, you’ll find a way to continue finding and consuming. The blogs you don’t really care about, you won’t. What Google Reader’s evaporation means, really, is that great content will continue to win and okay content will continue to suffer. I’m actually okay with that in theory, although I wish Reader was staying put.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyeCrane Kellye Crane

    My favorite use of Google Reader is the search capability. When I’m researching for clients, I can limit searches to my carefully curated list of trusted sources. As a blogger, I use this function to see what’s already been published (so I can integrate those links, build on what’s been said, etc.). I don’t know of another tool that can do this – do you?

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      Maybe Icerocket, kinda?

  • http://kikolani.com/ Kristi Hines

    I was pretty addicted to Google Reader and have now moved over to Feedly. With about 250 RSS subscriptions, resubscribing via email would be impossible. Newsle looks nice, but I really liked Google Reader for the ability to search as Kellye mentioned.

    What I think is most disconcerting to bloggers about the Google Reader demise is a) how many subscribers they have that may not find a replacement and thus will stop following your blog and b) the fact that Feedburner may be the next to go. And for those of us who did it wrong and had people subscribe directly to the Feedburner RSS, that’s a lot of subscribers that cannot be moved over.

    On a happier note, I loved visiting Australia and getting to play with the wallabies, kangaroos, and koalas. Ok, it was just one koala and he was sleeping, but still fun.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      Feedburner will be gone shortly, I’m afraid. That’s a big reason why we switched to Feedblitz. At least I know it will exist. We need to swap koala stories!

  • http://twitter.com/tcar Todd Carpenter

    There have been dozens of articles like this one. “It’s no big deal because I’ve moved on.” Well, good for you.

    Some of us don’t want blog posts in our inbox. Some of us think Twitter is a crappy way to track stuff. Some of us don’t want to take the time ti “Flip” across the web. I’d gladly pay $20 a month for Google Reader because there’s nothing out there that’s as good. I can’t think of another service that so easily allows me to keep up to date with the blogs I follow. Once Reader is gone, it will be harder to follow them, and blog traffic will suffer because of it.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      I hear you Todd. My perspective is that if the content is good enough, you’ll find a way. We always find a way. But I concur that the move to pocket veto this product is annoying.

    • http://www.philsimon.com/ Phil Simon

      I’m respectfully with Todd. Reader was great and I used it daily. I’m trying Netvibes as a stop-gap.

  • http://paulalay.com/ Paula Lay

    I think it’s all relevant to how you consume and your purpose. In an industry like online marketing, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest changes – which is why Google Reader has always been a Godsend. I do enjoy Flipboard as well, but I have hundreds of RSS feeds and don’t have the time to swipe through content just because the concept of flipping is fun.

    I recently switched to Feedly (which was surprisingly easy to do, if you haven’t switched yet – do it!). In fact, it was through Feedly that I came to this post.

    My company blog also has a significant amount of traffic with feedburner as it’s source, so I will be keeping an eye on this and adding an annotation in GA to track any difference. Particularly with our audience and clients, it’s imperative for us to write about the latest changes that could affect their business and marketing campaigns.

    I also have the same sentiments as Todd, I loathe being sent an email for one blog post, usually claiming to be the best thing since sliced bread – when it is in fact more noise that I couldn’t care less about.

  • David Chevalier

    Feedly seems to be an insufficient answer to people who are mad about Google Reader. I switched so quickly. I don’t get it – is it the fear that Feedburner is next?

    Jay, You mentioned in the blog and video that your most crucial blog subscriptions (approximately 25, you said) come to you via email. Would you mind sharing which blogs those are? If you, and the other social media thought leaders, reveal your top 25 and we deduplicate the list, this problem is done (at least in one industry). Right?

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

      Great point and a great idea. I’ll work on a post about it.

  • http://www.creativedemon.com.au/ Shaun Rynne

    Fail. That is actually an Kangaroo in your picture. Source: I am an Aussie. That is a bay Kangaroo aka a Joey. Wallabys are smaller the Joeys and look more like a big rat. http://whozoo.org/mammals/Marsupials/roos/DamaWallaby080902_491.jpg

    I see that it will slightly effect the smaller blogs more as people will now be forced to clean up their RSS feeds.