RSS vs Sharing
Trends come and go in the blink of an eye these days. Usually some market disrupter comes along and changes the game with a shiny new thing. Sometimes it’s a service or product that gets shutdown. That’s exactly what happened here.
This is the story of Google Reader and the rise of Social Sharing.
Before Social Sharing was the “thing”, RSS was the life blood of blogging. Many bloggers (myself included) reached thousands of RSS feed readers daily. I had over 1,000 RSS readers during my heyday but over the past few years I watched that number dwindle to maybe 12 people now. What happened? Some of that is because my posting frequency went from a regular daily/weekly cadence to not posting anything for months, and some of it was that I didn’t catch the Social Sharing wave.
Blogging was in its heyday sometime between 2011-2012 and new platforms like Tumblr and Posterous appeared. Facebook and Twitter were establishing new territory in the social space and gobbling up users like no tomorrow. I experimented with with them all but there was no real focus with each one of them at that time. The fight for “mindshare” was heated in this space and blogging began to ebb in favor of 140 character tweets and reposting on Tumblr. Existing blogging platforms like Wordpress and Drupal did grow, but morphed themselves into strong content management systems.
The tipping point came in 2013 when Google killed off Google Reader. RSS was still around as a technology but blogging began to fragment. Some bloggers established Twitter accounts, other’s went to Tumblr, and some just went to Facebook. Many blogs shutdown or were abandoned. It was just horrible.
Some blogs did survive and some actually embraced these new distribution channels. Suddenly, “Share This” buttons began to appear at the end or at the top of every blog post. You could tweet out a link of an article that you liked and it could be retweeted amongst your followers. You could share another post with your Facebook friends or group members. You could even email the post to co-workers if you chose too. You had complete control over how you wanted to share content. You could consume content and didn’t need an RSS feed reader to do it in.
The void that Google Reader left behind quickly filled up with Social Sharing Buttons.
The best part? New conversations emerged! New ideas were shared and blog posts changed from a static entries into living and breathing content. No longer did you have to go to the comment section on a post to interact with the blogger, now you could tweet a link, post to FB, get a social conversation going. Blogging had emerged into a brave new world. It grew up!
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