Monday, April 29, 2013

Social Media Monday—Google Rumors, What True, What’s Not, and Why it Matters

Lately there have been a TON of rumors about what’s going on with Google. First came the rumor that Google was going to do away with Feedburner. That threw everyone into panic mode, and caused many to jump the Feedburner ship and join FeedBitz. Some social media sites were even posting supposed dates for when Feedburner would disappear. The last concrete date I saw posted was October 18, 2012. Thankfully, that rumor is beginning to fizzle.
The next rumor that came down the pipeline was that Google Reader was going away. I’d heard about that one for only a few hours before it happened. For those who haven't heard, Google Reader is no more.

A Reader is way to keep up with blog posts. It’s an alternative way to read these posts and get updates without cluttering up your inbox. My favorite replacement for Google Reader is Feedly. For those of you who haven’t tried a Reader, I recommend you take a minute and check it out.

I don’t keep up with blogs through RSS, my preference is email notifications, but that’s just my preference. The reason I’m interested in the fact that Google Reader is no more is because of a small gadget found on a lot of Blogger sites called Google Friend Connect. Many bloggers mistake this little gadget that shows “followers” for a gauge of how well their blog is doing.
But the truth is that unless the person adding his/her name to the blog through this is reading the blog through Google Reader, it’s just a popularity contest. The people listed in this gadget NEVER receive an email update and many rarely revisit the blog they’ve “followed.”

Why do you care? Because I’ve heard rumors (and I think they could be very accurate) that Google is about to do away with Google Friend Connect. I’ve gotten several emails from blogger concerned that their blog followers will go away with this gadget. It’s important you realize that your audience is made up of those who SUBSCRIBE to your blog, either through RSS or EMAIL.

Google Friend Connect is not a lot more than a popularity vote.

Loosing this gadget will NOT hurt your numbers for your blog.

So yes, I think it’s highly likely that Google will soon get rid of this outdated mode of measuring blog numbers. And knowing Google, they’ll probably do so with very little fanfare. And this won’t hurt anyone. But, unless you understand the difference between a blog FOLLOWER and a blog SUBSCRIBER, it can throw you. 

Now it's your turn. Have you heard any rumors that concern you? What are your thoughts on these changes Google is making?

Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. How can we "see" who is a blog subscriber?

  2. Edie, my Google Reader is still working. The announcement I read said that it would go away July 1, 2013. Cnet is a reliable source for web news.

    Feedly is currently working in concert with Google Reader. They are supposed to be a fully functional replacement by the time Google Reader retires.

    So far, I do not like Feedly, although it does have mobile versions for phone and tablet. Feedly's layout makes it harder to scan all feeds for unread articles. Maybe they will improve it.

    As for Feedburner, there are rumors that it will go away, too. I went to MailChimp, and I am much happier with it even if Feedburner stays around. More control over layout, design. More useful stats.

  3. I understand that when Google Friend Connect goes away, it won't affect my subscribers. But since it won't show up anymore, could it affect what other people (who aren't aware of the difference between subscribers and followers) think of the blog? Seems like people may be less likely to view the blog if they see fewer people on the page.

  4. I hadn't heard about Google Friend Connect disappearing, Edie. But I agree that it's just a popularity contest. I have "followed" many blogs that I don't read regularly. I fully intended to when I followed, but life got in the way. Thanks for the reassurance.

  5. Edie, thank you so much for explaining this interesting little fact about Google Friend Connect. I've been blogging for only three months and have been confused about so many things, mainly concerning why my list of followers on "Google Friend Connect" hasn't been growing. I had no idea that it's merely a popularity contest - Whew! What a relief! I was begininning to take this personally and now I can relax a bit! I'm learning so much through your blog (especially on Mondays), and I can't thank you enough! :)