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This post has been on my mind ever since Danny Brown expressed an interest in finding out how I use Google Reader during an exchange on Twitter.
I just added a blog to my reader account. I was reading a post by my friend and uber eCommerce headhunter Harry Joiner and he recommended a blog that hits the spot on retail eCommerce so I clicked on the link, read a couple of posts (not that I had to, Harry is top shelf) and added the RSS in the pool.
The pool is the unstructured series of posts I keep at the end, below the folders. A blog that is valuable to me and my network over time, moves into a folder. I currently syndicate 219 feeds and 15 of those are in the unstructured folder. It's a place of high rotation.
The labels for folders are categories of thought. From the top:
- corporate blogs
- home (yep, they hit there)
- Italian (definitely a category of thought)
- LinkedIn questions (stream advertising and promotion, public relations, search marketing)
- social media
- #kaizenblog chat stream (for search and reference)
With the exception of LinkedIn questions and #kaizenblog, each folder is organized in alphabetical order. It makes it easier to find them by name and I'm very visual.
The skinny on stats
I will likely add a new category for technology because thanks to my friend Rob Diana, I now read a lot of the technology-related posts he shares. He's your regular geek. You always want to have one of those in your feed, it makes for some very smart reading. He' also the most prolific sharer with 38.7 items/day.
As you can see from my subscription trends above, you'll notice that I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn for someone who doesn't have the application open all that much. Since most of my work is in B2B, LinkedIn is the best way to see what people are talking about in my circles, so to speak.
I don't share as much on Google Reader as I do on Twitter. Maybe 2-7 posts per week. Which is probably the reason why so many follow me. A manageable flow. My biggest flow of content, I'm told, is that of my own feed at Conversation Agent. So I balance things out.
Now's probably a good time to confess that I'm ruthless with who I follow on Google Reader (and around the Web). 77 people are a manageable flow for me. It means I get to read or scan or search what they share almost daily. One of the reasons I use Google Reader is search.
Whenever I work on a story that needs differing points of view, I run a search first in my RSS, then on Google proper. I also use search heavily in my Google Reader to see what people are talking about. I built enough diversity in the stream to see a topic from different lines of thought or professional eyes.
The 219 blogs and those shared by the 77 people I follow are the direct and indirect pool from which I base most of my sharing on Twitter. Why indirect? I may be reading a post on one of these blogs that links to another brilliant post and tweet that one. I might even end up adding that blog to my reader.
Every couple of weeks to a month, I do spring cleaning. Blogs infrequently updated with partial feeds are the first ones to go, unless the content is so good that it's a must read when it comes out. I'm not a big fan of partial feeds. There's not enough time to click through too many actual blogs and not enough incentive to comment without reading more.
What insights do I glean from organizing my Google Reader account? Why do it, right?
I see when patterns change. When someone starts publishing shorter and more frequent posts, for example. Or when there's a story everyone is writing about, all the feeds become active. I observe when people don't post or don't post frequently.
When is as important as what
One of the reasons why I post on Sunday at 7am like every other day is that not too many others in my general subject matter post then. The other is that I finally have more space to think. If you go back, you'll probably see that my Sunday's posts are among the must reads for me -- and sometimes you agree by commenting a lot.
It's never one tool, by now you probably noticed that with me. I cross reference LinkedIn trending questions with the feed reader with Twitter, for example. And I look at what resonates on FriendFeed where I stream my Google Reader shared items and at what people share and look at on SlideShare.
My blog's stats are also something I check -- both in the native tool, and on Google Analytics -- in addition to the comments, which are often the best part of my posts. Where does the traffic come from? Which topics resonate the most? What directs the Rider? How does the Elephant get going? Am I doing a good job at shaping the Path over time? [concepts from yesterday's post]
What about you? Do you use Google Reader? Do you find another feed reader to be better?
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.