What is the first thing you do when you look at a blog for the first time? Well, the real answer for me is the blog design, but after that? It’s the follower box. This isn’t something that I’m proud of. I don’t think that more followers means that I’m going to like the blog more, or that less followers means that there is something wrong with the blog. But with so many blogs out there, the followers box is a quick way to get a little bit of information about the blog. Sometimes it’s indicative of how popular it is, sometimes it correlates to how long the blog has been around.
The followers box, formally called Google Friend Connect, is being discontinued for blogs not hosted by Blogger on March 1 (see this press release from Google.) It is my understanding that blogs hosted on Blogger will be unaffected, for now. However, many blogs not on Blogger have spent a lot of time building up their fan base and are now looking for ways to display that number with something now that GFC will no longer be available. Here are a few alternatives.
- Facebook. You might have noticed that I took down GFC and added a Facebook like box to the sidebar instead. This was the best option for me for a few reasons. First of all, I had more Facebook fans than I had on GFC. Let’s face it, everyone has Facebook. So even people you know in real life who don’t follow the blog scene can like your page. Secondly, having people like your page to show support means that you can more easily build your community on Facebook. For me, it’s win-win.
- Google Plus. Google says that part of their reason for getting rid of GFC was in hopes that people would turn to Google Plus as it’s replacement. You can make pages for your business or blog the same way that you can on Facebook. It will be interesting to see if this works out for them. So far, I don’t see a ton of people using Google Plus, but Facebook doesn’t always function the best, and I fully believe that if Google tries they can out do Facebook in terms of functionality. It’s just a matter of whether they can get people to use it or now.
- Networked blogs. I honestly have no experience with this, but I’ve seen it around the blog world, and it appears to have become fairly popular.
- Bloglovin. Again, no experience. But feel free to check it out! I’m sure you’ve seen it around, too. Although I’m not sure that it has boxes with faces and numbers like the others I’ve described.
- None of the above. A lot of bigger blogs, like blogs that are a really big deal, don’t have something that lists their numbers at all. If I didn’t want to grow my page on Facebook, I think this is the way I would go. If people really want to find out how popular your blog is, all they need to do is subscribe and Google Reader will give them an idea. Or they can look at Twitter, your comments… it’s not that hard to tell.
There are obviously a TON more options out there, these are just the few most obvious ones that I’ve seen around. What do you think about GFC going away? Are you going to replace it with something else on your blog? I’d love to hear!
Edited to add: Don’t forget to always have your RSS feed accessible! Mine is through Feedburner, and you can subscribe by clicking on the tan button under Connect at the top of the sidebar. Subscribing via email is always another good way to go! (Thanks Annelise for the reminder, and thanks to Katie for giving me the idea for this post!)