Goodbye, Google Reader :(

Yesterday, Google announced that Google Reader will be retired on July 1, 2013. Like the rest of the internet, I’m super bummed. Someone even started a petition to keep Google Reader running.

What is Google Reader?

Google Reader is an RSS reader (it aggregates web content). I’ve been using it for years to follow blogs, webcomics, news, etc. Rather than having to check each of those individual websites everyday for new content, RSS readers pull all the new content into one location.

What alternatives are there?

I really hope Google changes its mind about Google Reader, but in the meantime, I’ve already started looking into alternatives. Some of the options I’ve come across are:

Any luck with the alternatives?

I’ve tried a few of these and Feedly is the most promising alternative for me so far. Feedly currently syncs with Google Reader (which makes switching to Feedly really easy) and they promise a seamless transition to their Google Reader clone once Google Reader goes offline. Their Android app seems sufficient, but I don’t like their web UI.

So for now, I’m going to keep using Google Reader, knowing that I can switch to Feedly in July if I don’t find anything better by then. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know! 🙂

Netflix

It was announced last night that Netflix is going to be splitting into two companies: Netflix (online video streaming) and Qwikster (DVD rentals by mail). This, of course, comes shortly after Netflix raised their prices on the two services. Needless to say, it seems as though Netflix customers are not happy with these changes.

Nick and I have been Netflix customers since 2005 (Nick since 2002). We had initially been paying for 3 DVDs out at a time (+ streaming). After prices rose a while back, we dropped two 2 DVDs at a time (+ streaming). With the new pricing structure, we cut back to 1 DVD at a time + unlimited streaming ($18/month for Blu-ray) and now we’re considering going down to just unlimited streaming ($8/month). We had been really happy with Netflix, but it seems like the company is going off track now and it’s encouraging customers to look into alternatives. :-/

It’s also pretty funny that the Twitter @Qwikster account is controlled by some foul-mouthed guy with a pot-smoking Elmo avatar. You’d think Netflix would’ve looked into that before the announcement, because now it’s getting all sorts of attention. 😛

Social Media at Wayne State University

Three months ago, I started working at Wayne State University as the Web Content Administrator (aka Web Content Ninja 🙂 ) in the Marketing and Communications department. Part of my job includes managing the university’s social media outlets, so I wanted to share some of what that entails.

Twitter

Wayne State’s Twitter account, @waynestate, is the social media account I use the most. What I love about Twitter is that I can see what people are saying about the university and respond to them immediately. Twitter is a fantastic tool for getting the word out about news and events, but, more importantly, it serves as an excellent customer service tool. I’m able to address questions and concerns from students right away and give them the information they need. Since working at Wayne State, we’ve received several compliments about our Twitter account. Below are two of my favorites:

Twitter Compliments
Twitter: "@waynestate is a great example of using sm {social media} for brand management. Quick response time, relevant and current. All colleges should do this." and "I wish MSU had a general Twitter like @waynestate does. I'm jealous. They're really handy."

We use a tool built in-house to post tweets, rate tweets, and track various Twitter-related information. One of my favorite things is to see how many people click on the links in the tweets I send out. It’s really interesting to see what people are interested in. A month ago, I found an article about Detroit being rated the “world’s most underrated city” and I tweeted about it. It’s been my most popular tweet thus far, with 576 clicks as of this moment.

Detroit was named the "World's Most Underrated City" by Travel & Leisure...
Twitter: "Detroit was named the "World's Most Underrated City" by Travel & Leisure"

Facebook

Wayne State also has a Facebook page, which I monitor and occasionally post news, events, and pictures on. For the most part, though, people are free to post whatever they want on our Facebook page. I only remove or hide posts that are spam or offensive (although, they are not mutually exclusive 😉 ).

People use our Facebook page to spread the word about events, buy/sell textbooks, find out more about Detroit, get in touch with other students, and ask questions about the university. And some students occasionally use it as a place to complain about the university. 😛

Formspring

Formspring was new to me when I started working here. It is a social question-and-answer website. We use it on the Admissions website for students to ask general questions about the university and the admission process. Having previously worked in the Admissions department at Wayne State, I was well-equipped to answer these questions, although I’m not the only one who responds to our Formspring questions.

Unfortunately, not everyone has been using Formspring as intended. Rather than asking general questions, many students ask for help regarding their specific situation and we do not have the information nor the tools to help them with those issues. Other students think it is more like a chatroom, so we occasionally see questions that only say “hello.” We’re working on revising how Formspring is displayed on the Admissions site to help the users get the most from it.

One of the other things we have been worried about with Formspring is whether people are actually seeing the responses we post. Well, our worries were confirmed when I recently saw the question below (see the image below) on Formspring. The student’s question greatly amused me as I wondered how the student was planning on getting his/her answer, when he/she didn’t know where to look for it, lol. 😛

Where can I see answers to all the questions I asked?
Formspring: "Where can I see answers to all the questions I asked?"