By now, you probably know that Google is doing away with Google Friend Connect (GFC) for non-Blogger blogs. The shutdown happens on March 1, 2012 so there’s not much more time to get your readers switched to something else.
Currently when someone subscribes to GFC, your RSS feed shows up in their Google Reader. However since Google hasn’t confirmed or denied that your feed will stay there when GFC goes the way of the dodo, it’s a good idea to start moving people away from GFC.
So what’s a girl to do?
Well, I have a three-step solution for ya (with an optional fourth if ya wanna go there).
Of course, you can wean people off of GFC however you want. This is just a suggestion. But I would say to start now if you haven’t already!
1. Determine Your Alternative.
Subscribing to an RSS feed is the closest thing to subscribing via Google Friend Connect so that’s probably the main place you want to direct people. Blogs you subscribed to showed up in Google Reader, just like subscribing to a plain ole RSS does.
Yes, yes, I know Google wants you to redirect people to your Google + page (if you have one) but that’s just not the same to me. How many people are using Google + vs using an RSS Reader? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
You may decide you’d prefer to direct people to Google + anyway. Or your Facebook page. That’s cool too. Whatever floats your boat. You can even give people a couple of choices if you want. Just don’t overwhelm them with a list of six ways to subscribe.
If you go the route of RSS, for the love of God make sure your feed is burned so it’s easier for people to subscribe! For an overview of Feedburner, you can read Gigi from Kludgy Mom’s Feedburner tutorial. To burn your feed with Feedburner, this is a good tutorial on how to burn your feed.
For Blogger bloggers: While you’re still able to have Google Friend Connect, just remember that Google can get rid of it at any time. In fact, they really haven’t updated it in a few years so I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull the plug at some point. While you may not want to remove the GFC widget, I’d focus on building your RSS feed subscribers, Facebook fans and email list (if you have one).
2. Now Make that Bad Boy Obvious.
Okay, so you’ve got your RSS feed in tip-top shape (or whatever else you want to direct people to), make it obvious to subscribe! What does that mean?
For starters, the way to subscribe should be ABOVE the fold. (that’s the part of the website you can see without scrolling down). Keep those social media buttons towards the top of your page too in your sidebar or your header.
If you’re on WordPress.org, I like the plugins What Would Seth Godin Do or WP Greet Box. It lets you customize a message to go either at the top or bottom of your posts. Use it to tell people GFC is going away and ask them to subscribe another way. You could even use Hello Bar, which I love to use for special occasions. The point is… make that way to subscribe stand out!
3. Remove Google Friend Connect now.
Yes, I know that you probably want to keep your Google Friend Connect widget up as long as possible. But just remember that not everyone probably knows about GFC going away.
What if someone comes to your site and only follows you that way? Then you’ll just have to convert them later so why make them subscribe twice. Once you have everything from Step 1 in place, let people know you’ll be taking Google Friend Connect down and ditch it. Your current GFC subscribers will still receive your latest posts until Google officially pulls the plug (there’s still debate as to what happens AFTER they pull the plug).
Optional: Send a newsletter message (but only once maybe twice)
Personally, I never liked the idea of using Google Friend Connect to send out newsletters. As a marketer, I take permission marketing pretty seriously and I never felt like GFC made it obvious to someone that they were opting into a newsletter when they subscribed to your blog.
That being said, since you have the capability to send a newsletter out with GFC (while not obvious, a reader technically opts-in), I don’t see the harm in using the newsletter feature a couple of times to let subscribers know they need to subscribe to you another way. Perhaps one message right away and then one a few days before GFC shuts down. Most people who read your blog will appreciate the reminder.
If you did have a newsletter you sent out through GFC, then switch over to using an Email Service Provider like Mailchimp. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers! Just know that there’s no way to export your list.
Alrighty, so that’s just one workflow for moving people away from Google Friend Connect. I’d love to hear what you’re doing!
Non-Blogger bloggers: Have you been moving people away from Google Friend Connect yet? Any tips for your fellow bloggers?
Blogger bloggers: Are you keeping GFC on your blog? Are you planning to transition away from it at all?
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