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September 10, 2010

Bloglines Is Dead, Accuses Twitter Of Murdering It

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After popularizing online feed readers, it looks as if IAC (owners of Ask.com) are permanently shutting down Bloglines apparently due to lack of interest.

However what’s surprising is that it was not a rival like Google Reader who killed off Bloglines, but rather a Xoogler (aka ex-Googler) whose social network made Bloglines obsolete.

It’s finally happened. Bloglines,the troubled RSS feed reader owned by IAC, will officially be shut down, the company has told TechCrunch exclusively. The site has had a tumultuous history, so it’s unsurprising that IAC has finally put the platform out of its misery. [...]

Doug Leeds, President of Ask.com tells us that the reasoning behind closing Bloglines came down to the fact that the market for people who use Bloglines (and RSS readers, he adds) isn’t growing, and is actually shrinking as people shift to realtime news streams such as Twitter to consume content on the web. (via TechCrunch)

IAC plans on shutting down the server on October 1st, although they have yet to release an official announcement to their users (at least the ones who have not yet defected to Google Reader).

While it’s easy to blame Twitter for the death of their once glorious feed reader, the real killer is not Twitter but Google, whose entrance into the RSS reader market has disrupted the entire industry (as gReader is free of cost and ads).

With Bloglines calling it quits, RSS addicts will probably have very few options available outside of Google and the desktop (although the former will probably capitalize on Bloglines demise once IAC makes a formal announcement).

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November 16, 2008

Exploring Social Media: Start With the Basics

Exploring Social Media article series badgeIn Exploring Social Media: Social Media Tools, I featured a list of what other social media sites and experts recommend as their social media tools. Let’s take a step backwards and explore the basics you need to have in place as part of your core social media tools for bloggers and businesses as part of this ongoing series on Exploring Social Media.

While the concept of social media and social media tools confuses many, the basic social tools are ones you probably already have and use. You might not think of these as social media tools, but they are crucial to today’s communication strategies.

You probably understand why you need these, but let’s review the reasons you should have these basics in place to start your blog, online persona, business, or media campaign. read more

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August 15, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: What to Call Your Feeds and Ads

In Unrelated Ads Angst and Feed Clutter, part of the WTF Blog Design Clutter series, I talked about how to name the ad and feed sections on your blog so your readers and visitors aren’t confused with jargon or misleading representation.

Many of you asked me what title or label should be used to lure your visitors into clicking on your ads and subscribing to your feeds without driving them away or confusing them. Let’s brainstorm some possibilities.

Naming Ad Sections on Your Blog

If you use a misleading title for your advertising or “sponsored” section, you can really upset your readers and visitors when they click through to an ad. That’s a sure way to lose visitors. You need to warn them, but you also need to entice them to click, if your blog is serious about making money.

Like most online advertisers, Adsense is very clear about what you can and cannot do with their ads, including the use of deceptive titles that infer the ads are not ads. You need an honest, transparent, yet motivating title for your ads.

“Visit Our Sponsors” is simple and generic, as is “Our Commercial Recommendations.” You can be blatant with “Advertisements” or “Ad sponsors” as long as that still complies with the terms of service for the advertiser.

What about something more appropriate to your blog’s topic?

If your blog is about cars, why not title them, “Drive Some Business to Our Sponsors.” If your blog is about cats, what about “Our Sponsors are the Cat’s Meow” or “Here Kitty Kitty! Shop Here!”

Contextual ad services require keywords near their ads and on the page, so why not add more by being clever, not deceptive. You cannot imply the links in the ads are publisher-created content, but you can say they are ads or sponsors with some imagination.

You can also color the background or the area around the ads to set them apart but also integrated into the blog’s design to draw the eye towards them without distracting from the content. There are many ways of highlighting your ads without words that helps the visitor recognize them. Research the guidelines the advertiser provides, as some do not allow graphics or design emphasis, and check their top revenue earners to see what they are doing.

Naming Feed Subscriptions on Your Blog

As featured in the article on feed clutter, I cited an article by Copyblogger about changing the title of your feed subscriptions from “Subscribe” to anything else could improve your blog’s subscription rate and help clean up the WTF confusion that term represents. If “subscription” implies payment, then what terms do you use to promote your blog feed?

The answer depends upon your reader’s familiarity with feeds. If they are familiar with feeds and feed readers, then all you need is the feed icon.

If they aren’t, what words can you use to get readers to sign up for your blog feed?

You can use phrases that link to your blog’s feed, or to a Page with a listing of your various feed options. Here are some phrases to consider:

  • Keep up with my blog!
  • Add this blog to your feed reader.
  • Want to know how to keep up with my blog?
  • Track this blog.
  • Follow this blog.
  • Follow me.
  • Frequent Reports and Updates
  • Follow me where I lead…
  • Stay up-to-date

Again, be clever with the phrasing and match it to your blog’s purpose:

  • Cat blog: Track this cat
  • Auto blog: Take a trip with us!
  • Nature/Outdoor blog: Take our hike!
  • Travel blog: Track Our Travels
  • Sailing blog: Chart Our Course With Us
  • Medical/Health blog: Want a daily dose of My Blog?

Use the feed icon to add some visual hint and have fun with the all the possibilities. Got more suggestions?

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August 4, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: Feed Clutter

In How to Increase Your Blog Subscription Rate by 254% on Copyblogger, author Willy Franzen had a light bulb moment when he realized that by asking our readers to subscribe to our blogs, we were actually asking them for money.

A week and a half ago I had a sudden realization. Subscriptions generally cost money. Think about that for a second. It’s jarring, especially if you’ve spent the past few months or even years incessantly asking your readers to subscribe…

Are you being completely clear with your word choice? When you ask your readers to subscribe, are you asking them to do the virtual version of writing their name underneath? Or are you asking them to agree to pay you a sum of money?

This is a great example of the WTF Blog Design Clutter. The words you use to entice someone to “buy” your free service can confuse readers. By changing the words, Franzen saw a huge increase in feed and email subscriptions.
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