Google Reader and the Downfall of Relying on Other People’s Platforms

If you heard a loud groan that seemingly came out of nowhere last night, it was probably me. My heart sank as I read that Google was retiring it’s RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Reader. Yes, I know that technology is always updating and changing and that good products will become obsolete. But I was hoping that I wouldn’t need to adjust my systems and processes anytime soon.

You see, the weekly news roundup that I send each weekly is heavily reliant on my RSS Feed. So now I’m beginning the process of evaluating potential replacement and am, now that the reality of the situation has set in, even a little excited about finding a better way to keep you updated on nonprofit news and fundraising tips.

But this whole situation reminded me of how important it is to have control over the platforms we build and the way we interact with our donors and customers. The past year or so, I’ve heard people say that they don’t need a website or an email list – because they use Facebook to keep in touch with their supporters. The truth is, Facebook is constantly making changes. They are in business to make money. When we rely on other people’s platforms, we are subject to their whims and changes. And please don’t think I’m just picking on Facebook. All the other social media platforms are the same.

So this leads me to my primary point. Build your own platform. For most organizations this will probably include a website with ongoing communication via email (but phone, mail and text are other communication possibilities). Don’t rely on the kindness of other people’s platforms to continue conveying your message for you. Social media can augment your reach and create some great opportunities for interaction, but it can’t replace it.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below!

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