Google, why can’t I connect with my friends anymore?

Nikki Parkinson Life 38 Comments

I’ve learned a lot about this blogging game over the past three and half years but this year has been the biggest eye opener. For so many reasons.

I remember first hearing about the Blogger vs WordPress debate way back at the Aussie Bloggers Conference in March.

This interested me on lots of levels.

On one level, I thought, does it REALLY matter what blogging platform you use? Isn’t it about the content?

On another level, I thought, yes, I’m really happy I accidentally started on WordPress. Not because it’s easier or better but because I control the hosting. It’s mine. It’s not Google’s. This, of course, doesn’t mean you are immune from crashes, but it does mean I can get stuff fixed without delay.

Somewhat naively, I thought we could all play together nicely in one big bloggie playground.

Until this week.

The on-the-ball Ling from The Best Beauty Blog messaged me, asking if I’d heard that Google was taking away the Google Friends Connect widget from non-Blogger blogs.

No, I hadn’t. And I’m now not impressed. One bit.

Here’s what Google had to say on its blog this week:

We’re retiring the service for all non-Blogger sites on March 1, 2012. We encourage affected sites to create a Google+ page and place a Google+ badge on their site so they can bring their community of followers to Google+ and use new features like Circles and Hangouts to keep in touch.

For those who think GFC stands for the financial state of the world, the Google Friends Connect (GFC) widget is one way for bloggers to follow other bloggers. Joining a site is as easy as clicking Join this site on the widget and that blog’s feed will flow into your Google Reader. It looks something like this:

google friends on edenland

Edenland’s beautiful followers: www.edenriley.com

I didn’t have one on my blog for a long time but someone – another blogger – suggested I should.  I followed through earlier this year because I believe you can’t dictate to your readers HOW they follow you. You just need to offer every possible way. And make it easy for them to do so.

Now, Google is taking that away from me.

But they’re going to leave it on their own Blogger blogs.

Their answer for us non-Blogger blogs is to embrace Google +, create a business page and get people to follow us there.

To me that reeks of blogging playground bullying, where the big, powerful protagonist coerces friendships and collaborations. My readers won’t buy it.

And, quite frankly, that’s not the spirit of blogging.

After chatting on Twitter with a number of bloggers about this, I thought I would share my plan to meet these forced changes head on:

1. Leave your GFC widget in place before you’ve done all of the below.

2. Write a blog post explaining to your GFC community that you will be taking down the widget on a certain date and if they still wanted to subscribe to your site via their reader, they would need to take your RSS feed and manually add it to their reader. (If you’re following this blog through GFC, please add my RSS feed to your reader today. I’ll be taking down the widget on December 23, 2011).

3. If you already have an email subscription (if you don’t have one, it’s probably a good time to start – I can highly recommend MailChimp), tell your readers this way as well.

4. When you are letting your readers know about the changes, be clear on the many ways they can still follow your blog.

Look at the top right of my blog for ways to follow me

Look at the top right of my blog and simply click to follow this blog

5. Set up a Google+ business page and add a widget to your blog. I’ve have (I also have a personal one) but I’m not convinced it’s going to change the social media world overnight. If you’re keen to give it a go have a read of this post on ProBlogger for ways on how you can make it work for you.

6. Look at your site’s analytics. Where are most of the visitors to your blog coming from? From a follower/social media point of view, wherever most of your visitors are coming from is where you need to hang out and talk to your followers.

7. Don’t get “stuck” on all of this at the expense of creating great, engaging content for your blog.

What do you think? Do you think Google’s being a blogging bully? If you have a non-Blogger blog have you already dropped your GFC widget? And a question for Blogger bloggers: how will you now follow non-Blogger blogs once the GFC widget has gone?

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How to be an expert blogger

On Monday morning (10am Queensland time; 11am EDST), I’m chatting in the Digital Parents Chat Cafe about tips on how to blog like an expert and use your blog to build your brand’s credibility and expertise.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’ll be there to offer you my two cents.

Is your blog aimed at marketing a business?

Is your blog aimed at highlighting a cause?

Are you blogging as an advocate for a particular group of people or organisation?

Is one of your blogging goals to increase your profile in the field in which you blog?

 If you’d like to join in for the hour and pick my brain, you’ll find the details here.

digitalparentsbutton

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Comments 38

  1. Angry! Same, Kate … seems to be mainly bloggers on it. nothing is for certain in this digital economy Nikki and this blog reinforces how quickly things change. I have separate Twitter and Facebook accounts for my biz blog and for my mummy blog.

  2. Fortunately I only just installed the GFC … and now I will un-instal it. No they’re not – I hate the Blogger v WordPress thing and this will only inflame it. Very confusing! Google aren’t playing nice!

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  3. nothing is for certain in this digital economy Nikki and this blog reinforces how quickly things change. Thanks for the update it is so exciting to have a community of people who can support each other in keeping up to date.

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      No probs, Lisa. I wouldn’t have a problem with the change if Google was removing the GFC widget off all blogs … But to leave it on their own and cite google+ as the solution for the rest of us?! Crazy.

  4. Thanks Nikki. I hadn’t heard this until now. I too am glad I am a wordpress blogger, and this is just another thing that pisses me off with the Google monopoly.

    I love your plan to deal with it and will be following suit. Thanks x

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  5. I heard about this the other day and I’m really not happy about it! I’m know for a fact that some of my readers only follow me through GFC, I’m only a newish blogger so I only have about 110 people on there but still! It feels like that those of us who aren’t blogger bloggers are being punished. I can understand it if they were removing it and changing to a different system across the board, but the fact that it will still be running on blogger blogs is very unfair.

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  6. Gah! I only just installed it a few months back.
    I’ve been eyeing off all the posts on Google+ business pages, so looks like I’m going to have to jump into that now. I have separate Twitter and Facebook accounts for my biz blog and for my mummy blog. I have personal Facebook, LinkedIn and Goolge+ pages. I’m just finding all these accounts far too overwhelming now.
    I know which are pulling in the most traffic for both blogs, so thinking it’s time I just concentrated on those individual platforms. Or maybe I need to rethink having two sites…
    Sadly, Google is so powerful that it’s hard to simply ignore it.
    Thanks for the heads up, Nikki. x

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  7. Thanks for this Nikki. As a newbie blogger it is good to know that we can count on the experienced bloggers to filter this information down to us. You certainly know what you are talking about. Having a great weekend. Jo

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  8. It is total playground bullying. I appropriately threw a tantrum when I saw the news. I also love that the only announcement of this change was on their blog, which surely does not get followed by every single blogger in the world.

    Just. So. Angry!

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      1. I was so peed off. I remember ranting to everyone on Twitter that day as soon as I found out! And thanks Nikki for spreading the word and giving us advice on what to do next. I am still trying to figure out this Google+… so confusing!!!!

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  9. Thanks so much for the info Nikki. I too have a wordpress blog and will have to think about what to do now! I already have profiles with Google+ but seriously wonder what the point is – nobody much is using it!

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  10. Not happy either! I just did the big transition from Blogger to WordPress, and my mail subscriptions have gone up, but not nearly to the point of matching my GFC. Oh well, it’s frustrating but I can understand what they are trying to do.

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