With time ticking down until Google Reader’s demise, competing RSS services are trying to perfect products that will lure in former Reader users. Digg, which is working on a Google Reader replacement, and Feedly, whose product is already up, running and gaining popularity, both posted the results of surveys this week in which they asked current Google Reader users how they share content.
A theme that comes through in both surveys is that RSS users still often rely on email to share content. Of the 8,600 Google Reader users who responded to Digg’s most recent survey, nearly 80 percent say they share news via email.
That’s not particularly surprising since Google Reader got rid of many of its social features in 2011 and no longer allows for easy posting to Facebook or Twitter, while there is still a Google Reader keyboard shortcut to email an RSS post. Still, email as a method of sharing also pops up in Feedly’s survey, which got responses from over 7,000 current Feedly users (many of whom likely once used Google Reader). That’s not to say, though, that email sharing is ideal: Feedly says a common refrain in its survey results is that users want to “remove friction from the type of sharing which is currently implemented using email.”
Respondents also told Feedly that they want to “be able to target smaller groups of people (wife, family, team, subset of friends with similar interest) and not pollute their Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn timelines.” This is actually the logic behind Google+ Circles, but it would seem Google+ isn’t cutting it here: Feedly says “people requesting this feature are savvy sharers who [already heavily use] Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and email – almost evenly.” In other words, the results suggest Google+ isn’t fulfilling users’ desire to target small groups. And 78 percent of respondents to Feedly’s survey said they “want support for threaded conversations (i.e., this is more about triggering interesting private conversations than simply sharing information).”
Feedly says that it is working on a beta with some of these features and will roll them out in a few weeks. Digg, meanwhile, says its beta RSS reader will be released in June. And it seems likely that that product will be paid. Digg notes that “We’re not sure how pricing might work, but we do know that we’d like our users to be our customers, not our product. So when we asked survey participants whether or not they would be willing to pay, we were pleased to see that over 40 percent said yes.”