Google Reader is Gone, But Here's WHY You Need to Find an Alternative RSS Reader, STAT

Last week, Leanne talked about the demise of Google Reader, and showed us why Feedly is a good alternative for those of us who live and die by our Readers.

She broke down the “What” very well (give it a read if you haven’t!) but I’d like to break down the “Why” when it comes to Readers.

So why do you need a Reader for your business anyway?

I actually received this question the other day in one of our Breakfast Bootcamps after extolling the glories of my Reader for curating content. Except I’m afraid that since having a Reader is so ingrained with how I use the Web (I’ve been using Google Reader since 2007), I didn’t have the most succinct answer ready.

Well, consider my answer more succincter now. Succinterer. I’m good at words.

What is an RSS Reader?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and simply put, is a format for syndicating news, headlines or other updates.

An RSS Reader allows the user to aggregate news, headlines or other updates all in one place. So instead of having 15 different websites that you visit every day, you subscribe to that site’s (or page’s, or section’s) feed, and your Reader will pull in any new updates or content in for you.

For example, here is my new Feedly reader showing my folder of Design Blogs and the most recent updates from the sites I subscribe to:

feedly design blogs

On the right hand side, you can see the list of blogs from which Feedly is pulling in updates, while the main column is showing those updates in chronological order.

Feedly is also a terrible enabler and suggests other blogs I might like to add to this list in the bottom right hand corner. Silly Feedly, don’t you know I have a problem??

Why Should I Use a Reader?

I originally started using Google Reader when I had too many favorite blogs to visit individually every day. As you can see just from my Design Blog folder, I have the tiniest little obsession with reading good blogs. (At last count, I have 25 different folders covering all sorts of topics, like Humor blogs, Content Marketing websites, and the latest updates on Health and Fitness).

Professionally, I use a reader to both curate content for clients AND listen to online chatter that might matter to their business.

1. Curating Content

For several of our clients, it’s important that we are sharing the latest information the Web has to offer in their niche or industry. We curate this content by subscribing to blogs and websites we know typically share quality content that we can then share to the client’s Social audience.

Using a Reader to curate this content saves us all a lot of time in finding content to share, and it helps us to know up to the minute the most current news. No need to hit refresh on a website to see if there are new updates…a Reader will automatically populate your feeds in real-time.

2. Online Listening

While it’s great to use a tool like Hootsuite to monitor Social channels for things people might be saying about your business, but a Reader can also help you monitor the Web as a whole by plugging in keywords, topics or #hashtags that are pertinent to your business or industry.

In Feedly, you can listen by adding broad categories, or narrowing by keyword:

Feedly Online Listening

Here’s a feed I created with the search term “cute cupcakes” (because who doesn’t like those?!).

Feedly search term

Feedly is now pulling in the latest news chatter from around the Web using that phrase. Thanks, Feedly!

For your business, you could create similar alerts for keywords that pertain to your industry. You can be as broad as thinking in terms of a category (e.g. if you sell mobile phones, you could add “mobile” to your Reader), or even narrow down to someone’s name, like your CEO.

Why Listen with a Reader?

Monitoring your business online is good practice in the best of times, but is especially useful in finding and addressing negative chatter. It’s nice to imagine that your customers will always complain directly to you about your products or services, but the Web is vast enough that they could be talking about you elsewhere. So use the tools at your disposal to proactively address their concerns.

How do I find a site’s feed?

If you’re using a tool like Feedly, clicking the “+Add Content” button, and adding your search terms will give you suggestions for feeds right on the page:

Feedly Add Content

 Simply click on the little + to add the feed to your Reader.

Otherwise, if you’re browsing the web and you see a button using the abbreviation XML or RSS, you can click those to subscribe to that site’s feed. You’ll need to have your reader of choice already set up, though, so it can pull the feed in after the click.

But the most common way to subscribe to an RSS feed is to find this button:

Reader button

 Often these buttons are in the sidebar, but are also sometimes in the footer as well (like on TKGenius!). Clicking it will allow your Reader to subscribe to that site’s feed.

I will miss having my Google Reader as part of my suite of Google tools, but, like Leanne, I’m finding Feedly to be a rather agreeable alternative. If you’re looking to get started with a Reader or need to find an alternative (STAT), I posted this article with 12 alternatives to Twitter the other day.

RIP Google Reader. You’ll be missed.

What questions do you have about Readers? What is your favorite Reader to use?

Sarah is a TKG Content Strategist, a veteran blogger of love, life, and unicorns since way back in 2001. On the blog, you can follow her thoughts on content marketing, corporate identity, how to story-tell effectively, and yes, the occasional unicorn.

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