A few years ago I wrote a post outlining strategies for finding time to read (Finding Time to Read: 8 Strategies for Time-Deprived Professionals.) It’s a great list — if you’re still reading paper-based media, haha. I based all those tips on the fact that I used to carry a book or magazine with me wherever I went.
Now that we’ve all become publishers, more content exists than you could ever read in a lifetime. I’ve found that magazines have stacked up on my desk and in my briefcase. This is because I now read much of my content online — either while on my MacBook or my iPhone. Lots of people now read content using their iPads.
Due to this massive sea change, I realized that I was relying more and more on Google Reader and that I was deriving multiple benefits from doing so. What follows are my tips for using Google Reader to manage your content and build your thought leadership.
1. Setting up Google Reader
Google Reader lets you easily manage any type of RSS feed — from blogs and publications to industry news sites and Google Alerts. To set it up, you need a Google account. If you have a Gmail account, just click on the Reader link at the top of the Gmail interface.
If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to open one — go to www.google.com/reader.
2. Add RSS feeds
Once you’re in, you can then begin adding the RSS feeds of your favorite blogs and publications. To do this step, go to a blog and look for the RSS button and click on it. You should see a page that shows a list of recent posts with a “Subscribe Now” at the top. The “Google” option should already be pre-selected since Google owns Feedburner.
After you click “Subscribe Now,” you’ll be taken to another page where you can choose to add the feed to Google Reader.
I recommend that you subscribe to the magazines you read, newsletters, blogs, and industry news sites. Some publications and news sites don’t offer RSS, but many do. If you can, get people’s newsletters via RSS, too, to cut down on inbox overwhelm.
3. Advanced tip: Sort feeds into folders
If you’re like me, you read everything. On top of that, I read blogs and other content for those clients for whom I do blog ghostwriting. This means I need to keep all these feeds organized and tidy.
To create a new folder, you first have to add a feed. Once you see it in Google Reader, click on it. You’ll then see three drop down menus. Click “Feed Settings / New Folders.” This will allow you to add a folder. Give your folder a name and click “Ok.”
Whenever you add a new feed, you can choose to add it to a specific folder. You can add as many folders as you like.
4. Secret sauce tip: Add Google Alerts feeds
Google Alerts is awesome as you can know instantly whenever you, your company, your products or your competitors are mentioned anywhere online. Knowing this information is crucial in tamping down potential firestorms.
The problem with Google Alerts, though, is that they clutter up your email inbox. I found that I received so many of them, I ignored all of them — that is, until I figured out that I could get these alerts via RSS.
To set these up in Google Reader, go to Google Alerts and choose “Deliver to feed” rather than the email option. Now that I get Alerts via RSS, I can quickly view them on a regular basis. (Since I don’t check Reader on a daily basis, I have the most important Alerts, such as my name, come to my email inbox.)
5. Use Google Reader to build thought leadership
Once you have Google Reader set up, the fun begins. What I love about it is that everything is one place, making it easy for me to check into my favorite blogs and publications when I have time.
When I read something that I think my Twitter following might find of interest, I post a quick summary and a link to the post or article. Hootsuite is a great tool for this type of work as it allows you to post to each platform you’re using — i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. It has a built in URL shortener so that you don’t have to jump over to bit.ly or tinyurl.com.
In addition to Tweeting about others’ content, I try to leave a comment or two on blog posts. Leaving comments has numerous benefits:
- Builds brand awareness
- Shows your thought-leadership
- Drives traffic back to your site
- Endears you to other bloggers as everyone loves comments
Do you have additional tips for using Google Reader? Post them below.