The End of Google Friend Connect

{via IFB}

Many of us are familiar with Google Friend Connect (GFC), that little sidebar widget that displays a blogs “Followers” and invites you to “Join this site”. It’s one way in which bloggers like to display their blog’s popularity, and many blogs like using it as a requirement for giveaway entries. If you “follow” a blog through Google Friend Connect, that blog’s posts show up both in your Blogger Dashboard (if you have an account) and your Google Reader (my RSS feed reader of choice) if you have a Google account.

Google Friend Connect

A few weeks ago, Google announced they would discontinue Google Friend Connect for non-Blogger blogs (also see the discussion over at IFB). Since Alterations Needed is no longer on Blogger (I moved over to WordPress over summer), that means Google Friend Connect will no longer work here after March 1, 2012. For that reason, after today, I’m taking the widget off my blog. I believe GFC followers will still receive posts, despite the widget being taken off the blog, until March 1, 2012, but I won’t know for sure until I post my next post.

What this means for you:

If you use Google Friend Connect to subscribe to your favorite blogs: Take note that after March 1, 2012, any blogs you’ve followed with GFC that are non-Blogger blogs may no longer show up in your Blogger Dashboard or Google Reader. This may be a good opportunity to look through the non-Blogger blogs you follow through GFC, and see if you’d like to subscribe to them in another way.

If you have Google Friend Connect installed on your non-Blogger blog: You may want to alert your GFC followers of this issue. It is obviously up to you whether or not to take down your GFC widget, but the longer you leave it up, may just lead to more followers you have to hope subscribe to your blog in another way come March.

If you have Google Friend Connect installed on your Blogger blog: It appears Google is keeping GFC as a Blogger-only follow widget, so you don’t have to worry about possibly losing readers due to this change. However, if you decide to move your blog from Blogger to another blogging platform, you need to think about what this might do to your readership.

 

Here are some ways you can subscribe to Alterations Needed, if you’d like of course, or if you’re following through Google Friend Connect and would like to continue subscribing in another way.

Other ways to follow or subscribe to Alterations Needed:

RSS feed: You can use this link to subscribe to my RSS feed, which will bring each and every post straight to your favorite RSS reader of choice. Some favorites include Google Reader (if you have a Gmail account, your Google Reader is usually linked at the top of your Gmail inbox, or sometimes under the link “More”),  My Yahoo!, Newsgator, Bloglines, and Netvibes, just to name a few.

Bloglovin: You can use this link to subscribe to my posts using Bloglovin, which is a lovely RSS reader that is geared toward fashion, beauty and personal style blogs.

Twitter: You can use this link to follow me on Twitter. I chat on Twitter quite a bit, where I share links to new posts, interesting things I find around the web, as well as live-tweet shopping finds. Quite a few petite bloggers hang out on Twitter, chatting fashion through the day, so even if you don’t join Twitter to follow me, you should definitely check it out to keep up with your favorite bloggers.

Facebook: You can use this link to follow me on Facebook. I post less on Facebook than I do on Twitter because I don’t want to clutter up your News Feed, but I do share links to new blog posts, and only the really interesting stuff I find. I also do my best to answer questions and give advice if you ask.

Tumblr: This one is new! I’m playing around with Tumblr for those of you who like to use your Tumblr dashboard to catch up with your favorite blogs. For now, I’m linking to new blog posts and fun Instagram shots, but I’m hoping to add more interesting things as I get the hang of it.

You can also follow my pins on Pinterest and photos on Instagram.

 

While this means some readers of Alterations Needed may get stranded during the switch in March, I’m a little happy about this. I’ve always felt Google Friend Connect was a bit useless. I feel other ways of subscribing to blogs are much more useful to readers, and asking for followers through GFC seemed to me a lot like a vanity metric that bloggers got a bit too obsessed with. I’ll admit, I jumped on the mandatory “follow my blog” band wagon for a few giveaways in the past, but I always felt conflicted by it, and only really did it due to the pressure I felt about growing my number of followers when compared to my blogging peers. But really, when it comes down to it, unless you are an active Blogger or Google Reader user, GFC served no helpful purpose for you, the reader. I’d rather you subscribe in a way that is helpful to you (RSS reader of choice, for example) or in a social media way where, if the fancy strikes, you could chat me up (I’m on Twitter more hours of the day than I’d like to admit =P ).

If you subscribe to Alterations Needed through Google Friend Connect, I hope you’ll decide to continue subscribing in another way of your choice. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading, commenting, tweeting, facebooking, subscribing, and helping to build the best online community I could ever ask for over the last three years.

What do you think? Is the end of GFC for non-Blogger blogs a good or bad thing?

29 Comments

  • Reply December 4, 2011

    Good Girl Gone Blog

    Great post! It’s so good to hear that other bloggers found GFC to be a vanity metric. I really, really hate when you are forced to follow via GFC in order to enter a giveaway, especially if you don’t actually use it as a way to subscribe to the blog (in my case).

    • Reply December 4, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Thanks Alana! I know how annoying having to follow on GFC is for non-Blogger users like yourself. The only reason I was okay with following was because I use Google Reader, but I NEVER check my Blogger Dashboard. I’ll be happy to do away with it and hope bloggers branch out with better ways to enter giveaways than mandatory GFC following.

  • Reply December 4, 2011

    The Girlie Blogger

    I think it sucks! I love using Google Friend Connect and it has helped me discover so many great blogs. Grrrrr! So mad!

    http://www.thegirlieblog.com

    • Reply December 4, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Hopefully it won’t effect you too much since you’re on Blogger. It just means you won’t be able to discover non-Blogger blogs using GFC anymore. =(

  • Reply December 4, 2011

    Kileen

    Thanks for getting the word out on GFC and some of the other alternatives out there.  I’m curious to see how brands will take to this change in determining their advertising…

    • Reply December 4, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      I hope brands don’t put too much emphasis on GFC in the first place! Just because someone has followed on GFC doesn’t mean that person is necessarily going to see the post about a brand’s product. People follow for giveaways without any intention of interacting with that blog in any other way. Much better metrics are those that the reader are actually actively using, like RSS subscribers (you know they’re seeing your posts!), Twitter & Facebook (readers can interact and ask questions via your social media posts).

      • Reply December 4, 2011

        Kileen

        I definitely agree!! I just know from my personal experience with a few brands that I’ve worked with they had a prerequisite as far as GFC followers. :(

        • Reply December 5, 2011

          Alterations Needed

          OMG, are you serious! I guess my followers were never high enough for these people because I never got asked about GFC followers by brands…lol. Well, it will be up to us savvy bloggers to help educate these often clueless brands on the way the blog-o-sphere really works. Either that, or they are going to limit themselves to only Blogger blogs in the future! Lame-o.

  • Reply December 4, 2011

    little frocker

    Not a welcomed change =(  Thanks for the heads up, Kelly!  

    • Reply December 4, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Since you’re on Blogger, it shouldn’t effect you too much, except if you use your Blogger Dashboard or Google Reader to read the blogs you’ve followed with GFC. Just be sure to re-subscribe to the ones you don’t want to miss out on through another subscription avenue.

      ps…you should create a Disqus account so you can set up your blog name to hyperlink to your great blog! That way people can discover you when you leave comments on blogs that use Disqus! ;)

  • Reply December 4, 2011

    Khatu

    ugh, I don’t like it when they make changes like that. 

  • Reply December 4, 2011

    Marlee

    Well, I never understood GFC. Thanks for clearing it up a little! I just started using Google Reader a couple months ago and I just plug in the URL to follow, so all is well for me.

  • Reply December 5, 2011

    Anonymous

    Thanks for explaining all this Kelly.  I honestly am so confused about the whole “reader” thing.  So I just subscribed to your blog through google reader and realized I have many other blogs in there that I’ve already subscribed to (somehow!) and had no clue LOL!

    • Reply December 5, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      All those blogs in your Google Reader are the ones you followed on GFC! GFC and Google Reader are linked, so the ones you subscribed to via regular ol’ RSS are at the top, and the ones you followed by GFC are at the bottom. It’s the ones are the bottom that you followed by GFC that you’ll want to look through, and re-subscribe by regular RSS if you want to continues getting their posts come March.

  • Reply December 5, 2011

    Anonymous

    I have a question about readers.  When I see a new post in my reader I can’t comment right?  I need to click on the post title to open it up in a new window? Or is there somehow a way of doing it in the reader “window”?

    • Reply December 5, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Right. If you want to comment, you’ll have to click the link to actually visit the blog and then comment from there. An RSS reader just brings all your favorite blogs together so you never miss a post, without having to manually visit each one. But if you want to comment, you’ll have to pop into the blog for a moment to do that. =)

  • Reply December 5, 2011

    Dana W.

    Hopefully this doesn’t seem like a dumb question, but I am one of those people who usually follow blogs via GFC and check out new posts through my Blogger dashboard. Now when I go to Google Reader it seems to have all of the blogs I follow already listed – is there anything specific I need to do so that come March 1st nothing changes?

    • Reply December 5, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Not a dumb question at all! GFC and Google Reader are linked, so any blogs you followed by GFC get automatically sent to your Google Reader as well. If you look along the sidebar on the left of your Google Reader, you’ll see a little folder above your GFC followed blogs that says “Blogs I’m Following”. This means they are being followed by GFC, and any non-Blogger blogs under that folder won’t show up anymore after March 1st. If you want to continue getting the posts from any of those blogs (that are not on Blogger, Blogger blogs will still show up), then you can re-subscribe to their posts in one of two ways:

      - Copy the blog URL you want to subscribe to and paste it in the little box that appears after you click the orange “Subscribe” button at the top right of Google Reader.

      - Visit the blog you want to subscribe to and see if they have something that says, “subscribe by RSS” or “Subscribe in your reader” or a little icon that looks like radio waves (I’ll attach it to this comment so you can see what it looks like). If you click that, you should be sent to a page where you can choose which reader you’d like to use. Click “Google” or “Google Reader” will send it to your Google Reader.

      These blogs will no longer show up in your Blogger Dashboard after March unfortunately, but they’ll be in your Google Reader which is handily linked at the top of your Gmail account.

      Another quick note: if you re-subscribe to these blogs now, you’ll probably see their posts twice in your Google Reader. This will end on March, when the posts from GFC no longer show up.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. =)

  • Reply December 5, 2011

    Katherine

    I have GFC on my blog but I think aesthetically it looks a little clunky – I do like some of the functionality of it. It sucks that Google is ending support for it (saying this more as a criticism of Google than as a fan of GFC). The weird thing about GFC is that there are tons of really popular blogs I feel that have “lower” GFC numbers because they don’t play the vanity game as much -so it isn’t really a good predictor of popularity, I agree. 

    • Reply December 5, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Totally agree with you Katherine! It is very clunky, and while I’m not really a fan of it, it’s sad that Google promoted it, made it compatible with all blogging platforms, probably sees the “follow me” frenzy that bloggers are going through, and then decided to pull the plug. I think they want GFC to be more like how Tumblr has a “follow” widget specifically for Tumblr blogs. Oh well.

      Kileen was just commenting how some brands she has worked with have had GFC follower number prerequisites! How lame is that? It’s not even a good metric for blog popularity and readership! Bah!

  • Reply December 5, 2011

    respect_the_shoes

    I saw that on IFB too – and I am a tech dummy, but I don’t understand the messaging from Google about GFC not being profitable – how the heck does Google make money from GFC anyways? I know not everyone is a fan of it, but for me starting out with Blogger, I see GFC everywhere and wonder why Google would give up something their users utilize so highly?

  • Reply December 5, 2011

    respect_the_shoes

    I saw that on IFB too – and I am a tech dummy, but I don’t understand the messaging from Google about GFC not being profitable – how the heck does Google make money from GFC anyways? I know not everyone is a fan of it, but for me starting out with Blogger, I see GFC everywhere and wonder why Google would give up something their users utilize so highly?

    • Reply December 5, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Good question. Maybe GFC encourages people to sign up for Blogger (and thus, Google) accounts? Other than that, I’m stumped.

  • Reply December 6, 2011

    ramnik

    I never liked GFC. The only reason I subscribed to any blogs on there was for giveaways and never actually ended up using that dashboard to read posts. I now use “mix tab” for mac where I’ve inputed all the blogs I want to follow. It’s much nicer aesthetically and functionally. I can even leave comments without having to open up a browser. GFC always seemed and looked extremely primitive to me. 

  • Reply December 9, 2011

    Danielle

    Thank you thank you for sharing this update! I’m doing a giveaway soon and this post really helped. Do you think they are getting rid of GFC because it’s been abused over time for contests? But I thought GFC would benefit Google? But now they’re discontinuing it on WordPress and other platforms?

    http://www.mrschong.com

    • Reply December 10, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Glad I could help! Yes, it seems requiring readers to follow a blog on GFC may not be a good idea going forward, even for blogs on Blogger. What if you decide to move your blog someplace else? You’ll lose all those great readers! It sounds like Google is getting rid of it because it wasn’t as successful as they had hoped, or maybe they want to focus social efforts on Google+, instead of that little GFC widget. They suggest bloggers start a Google+ page instead, so it sounds like Google just wants people to start using Google+ instead of GFC.

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    Lindsay Scouras

    Thank you for sharing this! I am a more recent blogger, and I have been becoming obsessed with getting more followers on GFC (because I currently have 3… so sad). I have Google + but have barely begun to use it! I am so confused now. Gotta do some research!

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