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2 Why the Shuttering of Google Reader Might Be a Good Thing

This week’s announcement that Google Reader is shutting down has me and many others waxing a bit nostalgic.

I’m an admitted RSS geek. Back in 2008 I wrote a series of blog posts extolling the emerging virtues of RSS technology. Prior to Google Reader I used tools like Bloglines, FeedDemon and NewsGator to subscribe to and read blogs.

In that time most tools, services and networks have essentially turned RSS into the plumbing that makes everyday things like Facebook and Eventbrite work.

I have been telling people to subscribe to blogs using RSS readers to stay informed, learn about specific industries, get inspiration for blog posts and monitor customer and competitor content for years and won’t stop any time soon.

This behavior is still an essential element of any complete listening strategy and that doesn’t change simply because one of the most popular tools for doing so goes away.

In fact, being forced to move beyond Google Reader may be a very good thing for long time users like me. There are plenty of alternatives for reading RSS feeds and this should spark the development of even better ones.

I’ll continue to keep on eye on Reeder at they have pledged to keep the tool alive without dependency on Reader. (Buffer users might want to catch this update from Buffer)

Google has valid reasoning for shutting down Reader and frankly I was little surprised with the violent reaction to the news. My take is that when an organization offers to let you use a free tool you’re not a customer, you’re a part of the product and in that regard you’re entitled to very little say. (Think Facebook)

Google has bet the social farm on Google+ and all signs point to decisions being made on two fronts only: How to continue to make a killing selling advertising and how to make users dependent upon Google+. To think otherwise is naïve.

So, what is an avid newsreader to do moving forward.

The need to find an alternative way to easily scan and read daily blog posts has me reconsidering the utility of the practice. Part of the reason Google stated for shuttering Reader is decreased usage. (Of course when you don’t update a tool and actually strip away the more useful parts people will find a better tool.)

A growing number of people have also turned to RSS aggregator tools like Flipboard and Pulse that can spoon feed more visually appealing content based on chosen topics. Heck, Google even has one of these called Google Currents.

For me, I still prefer discovering and building a custom collection of feeds and am busy trying out the newer breed of RSS readers that combines many of the social behaviors that Reader simply ignored.

Tools like Netvibes (Okay this is an oldie, but it’s kept up) present feeds in a dashboard style and add paid features such as alerts, curation, monitoring and analytics to your reading. With a little work you can turn NetVibes into a full blown listening station for most of your social networking.

Feedly, another popular alternative, combines bookmarking with feed reading and sharing.

NewsBlur is a simple interface that includes mobile apps and ability to share stories your find on popular sites such as Evernote.

Note: Many of these once small services are getting crushed with traffic from Reader migration right now so be prepared for some quirkiness.

Most of the services mentioned have out of the box transfer of your current Google Reader set up but you can also export your Reader Feeds using the Google Takeout tool and then upload the OPML file to your chosen service.

And look to see some new tools coming online in the near future.

13 How and Why I Still Use Delicious

I know, I know, what, is so old school. And didn’t they get bought and killed off by Yahoo? Well, actually all Yahoo really did was make it, but fortunately they sold the technology to AVOS, a company founded by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.

Delicious Stacks

But, that’s not really what this post is about.

I still use Delicious every day to bookmark and automatically publish content to the web via RSS and I think you should too.

At the root, Delicious is a social bookmarking site, which means you can use it to find and bookmark and tag stuff all over the web. I use it to create collections that I then post in my Saturday Weekly Favs post. I use it to curate collections of things related to marketing topics. I use it for research and I use it to publish filtered content to a number of pages.

Basic bookmarking

Bookmarking is a pretty basic skill these days as you must be able to find and aggregate large amounts of information of risk drowning in the virtual sea of stuff related to your chosen field.

Even the simple act of blogging requires the ability to find and sort various sources and few things are handier than a site like Delicious that is both discovery engine and reservoir of other people’s discoveries.

I use the Firefox addon that allows me to right click and add any page to Delicious, but you can find bookmarklets and other browser tools here.

Content discovery

I’ve also long used Delicious as a content inspiration source. I find that the users of Delicious are some of the old Internet souls that know quality from viral and I can always count on a romp through my favorite tags to produce ideas for my own content production.

The new Stacks feature brings a bit of a visual element, but you can still find the basic text links here too.

Auto publishing

One of the most underutilized features of the Delicious technology in my opinion is the ability to grab tag specific RSS feeds. Any tag you create produces a unique RSS feed. What this means is that you publish a dynamic feed of content related to a subject to simply publishing the RSS feed to any page. I bookmark lots of tools that I find to a resource page on my site by simply using Feedburner to create HTML code to publish a Delicious RSS feed to a page – you can view my resource page here.

All I have to do is find a new tool, right click and hit Save to delicious and tag is as “favs” and the link publishes to this page.

Custom filtering

You can take this a step further and use Delicious to help you create custom content feeds for things like product mentions, news stories and even social media mentions.

All you need to do is add Google Alerts to the previous step.

So, let’s say I want to track and publish mention of my book Duct Tape Marketing. All I do is set up a Google Alerts for the term Duct Tape Marketing and have it sent to my email inbox.

Then, when I spot a positive news mentions of Duct Tape Marketing (I mean, they’re all positive, but hypothetically speaking) I can visit the page, bookmark what I want to publish in Delicious and tag it DTNews or something like that and then it publish the mention automatically to a page or widget called Duct Tape In the News (bottom left on this page)– all without leaving my surfing.

Delicious, paired with RSS is a powerful way to create content on the fly while cataloging and categorizing the kind of stuff that helps you learn, teach and be a filter for your clients.

62 Automatically Add Blog Posts to Your Facebook Fan Page Wall

Update: After I posted this Notes started acting odd, so you might also looked at the NetworkedBlogs app to accomplish the same.

There are lots of plugins and apps that make it very easy to republish blog content to your Facebook personal wall, but many businesses these days are much more interested in publishing new blog posts to their Fan Pages.

There are a number of applications, both free and paid, that can help you do this, but Facebook has a built in tool that I think is the best option.

One of the native Facebook apps is something called Notes. Notes has a number of interesting uses, but if you dig just a bit you’ll discover that you can add an RSS feed as a note. When you add the Notes application to your FanPage and add your blog’s RSS feed as a new note, Facebook adds a tab that is the name of your blog and automatically updates your wall stream with the latest blog posts.

I like this approach because it’s easy and because Notes is not a 3rd party application – meaning when Facebook makes a change it will still work. I also like that it automatically updates your newsfeed when your RSS feed updates.

Here’s how to get it work for you

  1. Open your fan page (this assumes you have one)
  2. Click on the + to add the Notes Tab if you don’t have it added already
  3. Click on Notes Tab and hit Add New Note
  4. You will get a form for adding notes, but instead click on the Notes Icon above the form (See Image #1 below)
  5. From this screen you will see that you can import a blog. Add the URL to your RSS feed and hit Start Importing.(See Image #2 below)
  6. The Notes app will populate this page with your last few blog posts. Not e that a number will jump to your wall page with this first import, but from then on when you publish a new post it will show up in the stream. (See image #3 below)

Click to enlarge #1

Click to enlarge #2

Click to enlarge #3


30 A Beautiful Way to Read More Blogs

If you use an RSS reader to subscribe to and read blogs (and you should) then you know what a great tool it can be to keep you up to date, well-read and inspired.

I’ve used the free Google Reader tool for a long time and love it’s simplicity. However, a reader of this blog (Rob Kirby) pointed out a very cool tool called Feedly that takes my subscriptions and creates a much better looking magazine like interface. To me better looking translates into more useful when it comes to scanning a hundred blogs or so. Feedly immediately brought all of my feeds and organization folders over from Google so set-up was instantaneous.

But that’s just the beginning. Feedly is a Firefox add-on that functions using my Google Reader account so all my Feedly activity is still saved to Google Reader. Adding blog subscriptions as simple as a click, but I can also pages I find, video, images, anything I want to bookmark and organize. I can share and email articles I find and the tool analyzes the content I seem to like and gently suggests where I might find more.

The two images below give you comparison views of Google Reader and Feedly (Click to enlarge)

Google Reader


35 What Happens When Someone Copies Your Posts?

twinsThere’s a bit of a debate that goes on in different corners of the blog world about the somewhat common practice of republishing blog posts via RSS feed. The republisher, generally someone trying to create content without any work for the purpose search engine traffic and AdSense revenue, simply creates sites and posts various RSS feeds for the content.

Some people view it as being ripped off, while others view it as additional exposure.

The ripped off camp suggests ways to combat this using various tools and services.

My feed gets republished frequently, but I happen to fall into the additional exposure is good camp. First off, the folks republishing the feed are likely getting no benefit to speak of as Google and Google AdSense folks frown on this activity, can spot it easily, and don’t usually reward it. Some people suggest the dreaded “Google duplicate content penalty” might come into play here, but I’ve not seen any impact of this on anyone but the republishers.

Now, there is one tactic that I do employ to assure that I get the proper exposure because I did notice the occasional republisher forget to even mention where the content came from or link back to the original. I’m sure it’s just an oversight so to help them I use a WordPress plugin called RSS-Footer.

RSS-Footer automatically adds a line of content to every post in the RSS feed. Since 99% of the folks participating in this kind of republishing simply publish the feed, this line starts every post – This content from: Duct Tape Marketing

Here’s an example of someone republishing my feed. Because I also use the Related Posts plugin that points to other posts on my site related to this one, this page has 6 links back to my blog – I can live with that.

Image credit: cybaea

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21 Tracking Your Customer’s Social Media Activity

listen to your customersThe more you know about your customer’s world the more you can help them get what they want out of life. To some degree, no matter what we sell, that’s the ultimate goal of serving a customer. Smart sales folks have always made it a habit of discretely discovering everything they can about prospects and customers to find more and more ways to make deeper connections. Things like Alma Maters, names and activities of spouses and kids, and hobbies are all great bits of useful connecting information if you can discover them.

Well, social media use has made this job so easy that if you’re not tracking it, you’re not really doing your job. The fact that people now willingly and publicly post information about where they attended school, what they do in their spare time, what books they read, what sports their kids play, what they think about proposed legislation and the last ten songs they listened can be mapped to help you create a total picture of your customer’s world if you take the time to plug into their activity.

Ways to plug into your customer’s world

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12 Yahoo Pipes a Smokin Radar Tool

Yahoo Pipes is a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web. Frankly, it has been around for a couple of years now and while it’s advanced a bit, I don’t think it has ever really caught on in a big way. The interface is a little funky and takes some getting use to, but once you do, it’s a pretty cool tool.

Pipes can do some very complex things, but what I think it does better than most other options is allow you to aggregate, sort and filter many RSS feeds into one. So, you might be asking at this moment, why would I want to do that.

I can think of number of reasons pretty quickly:

  • Monitor mentions of your brand across multiple sources
  • Monitor mentions of your competitors
  • Monitor specific topics of discussion across the web
  • Aggregate the columns of key journalists you want to influence
  • String the blogs of your strategic partners into one feed


The image above is an example of output from a Yahoo Pipe for Duct Tape Marketing

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13 Bringing the Twitter Conversation to Any Web Page

Twitter is very hot right now so why not take advantage of this new found buzz by tapping the twitter stream and selectively publishing twitter content on your website or blog to enhance and link to the conversation.

wboxIt’s pretty simple to re-post what’s being said on twitter on your website because of the built in use of RSS technology. (Don’t worry you don’t even need to know what that is.)

First off, why would you want to republish twitter content? Here are couple pretty good reasons.
1. You want to publish everything that is being said at the conference you are hosting and run it as a live stream on your site.
2. You want to publisher your last five tweets on your home page to help people follow your twitter activity
3. You want to create a company-wide #hashtag and publish all the great finds your people are bookmarking in one place. (quick overview of the hashtag on twitter)
4. You want to publish all the great brand mentions your organization is getting on twitter.
5. You want to publish your replies to common customer service requests as a growing FAQ and demonstration of great service kind of thing.

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11 Republishing with RSS

It’s been far too long since I’ve allowed my geeky passion for RSS to spill forth.

As a reminder, let me say again – anything that throws off an RSS feed (oh, and that’s just about any online tool) presents some interesting republishing opportunities.

The republishing of RSS feeds for you own content creation purposes involves two steps 1) locate or generate the RSS feed, 2) produce the code to publish the feed as HTML somewhere.

Some example of RSS producers – blogs, online calenders, blog categories, and custom searches for starters.

So, let’s say you are way keen on all things to do with, I don’t know, referral marketing. You simply go to Google News and create a search for “referral marketing” (use the quotes) and copy the RSS feed URL. You can do the very same at and capture the RSS feed for all tweets that contain that search term.

Or, let’s say you created a twitter #hashtag for an event, that’s right, a search for said hashtag produces an RSS feed and can be published as streaming content anywhere you can paste the code.

Producing the RSS feeds of course is only half of the equation in the republishing scheme. There are many ways to publish the RSS feeds, but here are two free and simple ways.

1) Widgetbox – simply take the RSS URL to widgetbox and create stylish widgets that can be massaged in many ways. (This tool deserves a full post as you can do some very cool things with widgets and gadgets.)

2) Feedburner – take your RSS URL to Feedburner and use a feature called BuzzBoost to produce the HTML for you – this service gives you full CSS styling capabilities if you care to create your own style.

Here’s an example of a widgetbox widget for the search referral marketing on twitter.

Let your imagination run wild with this one!

4 RSS Plug-ins Do Some Lifting For You

Many bloggers have found ways to add some functionality and bling to their blogs with plug-ins – little add on scripts that extend a platform like WordPress.

Some of these such All-in-One-Seo Pack are under the hood tools helping with search optimization, some are on screen, like the Top Commentator Widget, extending commenting functions.

One neglected area of plug-in functionality is that of plug-ins designed to enhance the RSS feed. You blog’s RSS feed is very important to the overall health of the blog, but because most bloggers don’t experience their blog that way, the way that a majority of reader may, it mostly stays “right out of the box” vanilla.

Here are some practical suggestions for giving your RSS feed a makeover with your readers in mind.

1) Use Feedburner (now a Google property) – you can add some great things to your blog feed using FeedFlare so your readers who use a tool like Google Reader can use social bookmarking tools right in your feed.

All of these type of social media links can appear in your blog feed:

2) RSS Footer – this plug in lets you add some copy only to your RSS content in the header or footer of each post. There are several reasons you might do this, but the reason I do is it allows me to add: This content from Duct Tape Marketing with a link to my site so that all the folks that simply run my blog feed on their sites don’t have to go to the trouble to add my credit line – if you know what I mean

Here’s a shot of how this plays out on a blog running my content as it were their own:

Supplement – this plug in allows you to add all kinds of content to your feed. This might be useful for folks who want to encourage subscribers by offering premium content that non-subscribers don’t get to see.

Include pages in feeds – more and more folks, myself included, are adding pages as WordPress calls them, to add static type content or even build entire sites pages. This plugin allows you to include those pages in the rss feed instead of just blog posts. I’ve seen some nice uses of this where a blogger posts on a subject and then builds resources pages, for example, to support the topic in greater detail.

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