With the end of Google Reader approaching July 1, how many content curators still haven’t decided on a RSS feed reader option?
Not as many as you’d think, considering the dearth of articles on the Internet about making a change and the attitude of many content curation junkies like me who have been married to their RSS feed readers and still don’t quite believe Google is abandoning us. But it’s time to find a new tool.
Finding and following relevant RSS feeds is key for any successful content marketing strategy. How we use it at esd & associates:
1) Content curation; in other words, finding excellent third-party content to share on social media
2) Keep a pulse on industry trends and news
3) Get inspiration for our own blog topics
It can also be used to keep track of what your competition is writing about.
Before doing any shopping for a new RSS tool, I migrated my existing Google Reader feeds to my desktop. Thank goodness, Google has made it dead simple to archive your RSS feeds via XML files onto your desktop.
My ultimate goal: Replicate my current work style as much as possible, meaning standalone apps for capturing the myriad of RSS feeds I’ve been following for several years very seamlessly on many devices, especially my tablet.
Another pain point: Because I’d accumulated more than 100 feeds and was used to researching histories of previously read articles, this tool needed to be robust one that wouldn’t be going away anytime soon.
Go Free or Pay
In other words, I was willing to pay for a reliable service that had been previously free if necessary. I did a deep dive for the ideal RSS reader. I looked first at free services like The Old Reader, Bloglines, Reeder and even Feedly, a very popular option.
My RSS quest also included signing up to be a guinea pig for as many of the free RSS options as could be found (SwarmIQ is already up and running, NewsMaven is only open to beta users and Digg is starting next week), hoping to find a winner.
Almost all the free ones left me unimpressed due to pickiness over readability. Magazine-style layouts and big fonts that can’t be modified easily may be eye-catching to the casual reader, but for the time-starved content curator who needs to make decisions on thousands of feeds every day in a very short time, they just don’t cut it.
For all the good press about Feed Wrangler and its emphasis on creating a frictionless process for power users checking countless RSS feeds, however, there was no way to try the service out without paying for it first.
On the other hand, NewsBlur and its whip-smart founder, Sam Clay, answered most of my questions on its home page.
Pushing the try-out button opens a simulated but very live RSS page with a variety of feeds and links that you can manipulate a number of ways based on format and your reading style (and review them if you like). The graphical user interface, even in this test mode, is very easy for navigating and reading threads.
The Final Decision
After dawdling for a few more days, again hoping for Google to come to their senses, I bet my money on NewsBlur and its very nominal $24 annual subscription fee.
That fee covers access to an unlimited amount of feeds, all stories in the feed loaded at once and constant site updates. Plus, it allows me to feel great about feeding Shiloh, Sam’s trusty pooch and the defacto NewsBlur mascot, too.
The good news for those who are less trusting about paying for a service: NewsBlur offers free accounts, but you’ll be limited to 64 sites, 10 feeds at a time and slightly less speedy service.
To complete my need for seamless feeds on all platforms, I spent an extra $5 through the iTunes App Store for ReadKit, a native Mac app for reading NewsBlur as well as Instapaper, Fever, Pinboard, Pocket and other content tools. Plus, the NewsBlur has free apps for the iPhone, Android and iPad.
If you’re a power user of RSS, NewsBlur isn’t the cheap choice, but it’s the best RSS reader I’ve found. Let us know if you would like to learn more about how we use content curation to take our marketing strategy to the next level.