Google Reader has been around since a beta was launched in Google Labs in 2005 – I first started using the service about three years ago. But I’ve discovered that not everyone understands or is even aware of what Google Reader is, let alone how to use it for marketing purposes. So here’s your guide to using Google Reader as a marketing tool.
What is Google Reader?
In one word, Google Reader is an aggregator. Blogs and other sites with frequently updated content generally offer no-frills chronological lists of their updates, called an RSS feed; Google Reader automatically retrieves and compiles the RSS Feeds of your favorite blogs, e-newsletters, etc., in one place (that’s also connected to your other Google services).
When you subscribe to the RSS feeds of your favorite blogs and news sites, every new post or article is automatically sent to your Google Reader in real time for you to access anytime you want. One of the best features of Google Reader is that users can add not only the URLs of their favorite feeds, but they can also use a Google-powered search function to find new feeds and individual articles specific to their search terms.
Why use Google Reader?
There are many reasons to use Google Reader. The most obvious is that you never miss a really great read. Some enjoy the ritual of visiting their favorite blogs daily, but what about those days when you’re super busy and just don’t have the time to check them all out? Wouldn’t it be great if you could visit one place to pick and choose which articles you have time to read?
Better yet, you can organize all of your RSS feed subscriptions into folders, sort of like your inbox. For instance, I have a folder full of RSS feeds of blogs about social media, a folder of RSS feeds of blogs about advertising, and even one folder dedicated to design blogs. Once all of your feeds are organized, you can bundle them and share them with friends and co-workers. For example, you can create folders to share with your staff so that you’re absolutely sure they have the resources they need to stay abreast of your industry’s news. The possibilities are endless.
How to use Google Reader for marketing purposes:
- Keep tabs on your competitors - Collect the RSS feeds of all of your competitors’ blogs to find out what they’re talking about online, what new products they’re offering, etc., to stay ahead.
- Social media market research - You can get RSS feeds of particular searches on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and more. All you have to do is go to the network’s search function and click on “Feed for this query,” and simply add the URL to your Google Reader. With some of the networks’ advanced search options, you can even narrow down searches by geographic areas and other demographics.
- Find inspiration - If you’re writing your own blogs or articles, you can use Google Reader to collect inspiration for your next post. Collect a folder of RSS feeds from similar blogs to find out what subjects others in your industry are currently discussing. Take some guidance from one of your favorite blogs and put your own twist on a topic (be sure to reference it in your post, of course!). Sometimes all it takes is a little reading to discover a topic you’d like to write about – and that others would like to read about too.
- Brand listening & monitoring - Use your Google Reader as a listening device by setting up search functions for mentions of your brand or keywords related to it. Doing this will help prevent an email inbox cluttered with Google Alerts, because they’ll go straight to your Google Reader account instead.
- Find influencers in your industry - Use the explore function of the Google Reader to help you find other blogs that you might find interesting OR that might relate to your industry. That way you won’t have to create and curate your own list of related blogs – Google Reader can do it for you.
- Contribute to the conversation & drive traffic to your site - Subscribe to the RSS feeds of the bloggers, tweeters, and influencers in your industry. On top of automatically receiving their updates, Google Reader can help you drive traffic back to your own website or blog by keeping you updated on posts that relate to one of your published blogs or articles. Once discovered, simply add an inbound link to your content in the comments section of the article, thereby driving traffic back to your own website or blog. Also, subscribe to the RSS feeds of LinkedIn Answers and Groups, so that anytime you can answer a question or contribute to a conversation within a group you’re alerted without having to manually visit these pages.
How are you using Google Reader creatively in your business?