Why I’ll never use Delicious again

I want to like Delicious, I really do. I’ve been using it to trap links of interest for a while now, and as someone who’s probably used 10 different computers regularly in the last few years, it seemed a handy way to store content I want to access again later, from anywhere. I installed the Delicious extension in Chrome recently and that made it easier and more likely that I’d share and tag links.

But my days with Delicious are over.

The social networks that have stood the test of time so far (“time” in Internet world meaning more than a year or two) have constantly added functionality, features and new design. Facebook does it every few months, it seems. Delicious, for whatever reason, never seemed to graduate into a really robust, useful platform for people to share and save content. It was hard (nearly impossible) to import and find friends, the interface was ugly and clumsy, and search was frustrating. It earned the moniker “Where links go to die” and that’s not too far from the truth, in my case.

It’s too late for Delicious. Google Reader has completely lapped it.

Google Reader started as a way to keep track of blog feeds, and I didn’t use it much beyond that. But then they began rolling out more useful features. You can tag and star items and organize feeds into folders. Then Google rolled out the “Share” function, which, with one click, allows you to post to your own public feed any item from your reader you wished. Google added the ability to find and follow friends via Google Reader and see, right from within your reader, what they are sharing. You can add notes and comments on items or send an item to someone via eMail. And let’s not forget the nifty ‘Trends’ stats feature (this is Google, after all) that shows you which feeds you’re most engaged with. (The official Google Reader blog is a great resource on all these features.)

For a long time, the only thing that kept me saving items to Delicious was the concept of “discovery.” Anything I wanted to save, share or tag in Google Reader was limited to feeds I was already subscribed to. If I happened across something on the Web or clicked to a link from Twitter, I didn’t have a good way to get it into my reader. Plus, I often found a single post interesting and bookmark-worthy, but had no desire to subscribe to the entire blog.

So, it was a two-party system for me: Google Reader to share and save the most interesting posts from among the feeds I already subscribed to, and Delicious for tagging and saving sites I randomly “found” out on the Web.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Google Reader has a “Note in Reader” bookmarklet! It does! And it has for two years! Drag the bookmarklet onto your browser’s toolbar, and wave goodbye to Delicious. The bookmarklet lets you save and/or share anything you find on the Web into your Google Reader. You can add notes and comments, just like you would on a blog post. I don’t know how I missed this feature, but to me, it pretty much means the end of Delicious.

The “Note in Reader” feature completes the content consumption round trip for me. Using Google Reader I can:

  • Subscribe to a blog or Web site’s feed to receive all its content
  • Arrange and sort feeds into folders and bundles
  • Star, tag, like, annotate and share specific items from those feeds to my own public “shared items” feed
  • Find and follow friends via my GMail contacts or other social networks, or even search for people via keyword or location, and then see and subscribe to items they are sharing
  • View recommendations for new feeds that Google generates by comparing my interests with feeds of users similar to me
  • Share and save content into my Google Reader from anywhere on the Web I happen to find it

I haven’t tinkered with Google Buzz much, but obviously Reader and Buzz are easily integrated so you can share items across that platform, too.

(I’m not even going to get started on Google Reader Play, which is possibly the biggest time suck I’ve ever seen – it curates and presents fun and interesting information from the Web it thinks I may like into a visual slideshow type of format and lets you share, like and save right from the screen. I’m talking hours lost here discovering fun stuff.)

So I’m sorry Delicious. I can’t even say that it was fun while it lasted, because it was always a bit cumbersome. It’s too bad we have to part ways, but with “Note in Reader” and all the other amazing options Google Reader offers, can you blame me?

Check out what I’m reading, saving and sharing via Google Reader here.

The fallacy of targeting audiences on the Web

Memo to brands trying to reach teenage boys with raunchy campaigns: we can all see you.

Burger King’s Shower Girl is the latest in a series of misogynist social media campaigns targeted at hormonally-charged teenage boys, it seems. PepsiCo’s “Amp Up Before You Score” iPhone app this summer broke women into 24 stereotypes and gave guys tips on how to pick up each and tally their conquests. Remington’s “Face of Success” microsite and game  encouraged guys to try out pickup lines on virtual women (these fake women had Twitter profiles and followed back successful players).

Not surprisingly, these types of campaigns have drawn varying amounts of ire, from women and men alike, who feel that they’re inappropriate, don’t advance the product being hawked, and continue to promulgate objectification of women in Western culture (and that’s a post for an entirely different blog).

burger_king_shower_camThe typical “defense” often heard about campaigns like this is that they are intended only for a specific target audience. To me, that’s a fancy way of saying, “if this offends you, then you’re not our target audience, so please shut up and leave us alone.” Granted, PepsiCo did apologize for its iPhone app, but it’s hard to believe that they couldn’t have anticipated a backlash before ever launching it.

Nothing is truly targeted on the Web anymore. It’s too easy for people to share and pass along links to content, no matter where that content originates. That means campaigns that are edgy or risque are just as likely to find an easily-offended audience as they are to find their “target audience” online. Organizations can’t assume that only their target audience is going to see and interpret their campaign.

I’m not purporting that all marketing campaigns should be so sanitized and boring so as to make sure no one is offended. Often edgy campaigns are the most effective; they merit attention by being different. But there’s a difference between “edgy” and “in poor taste.”

There’s no “section” of the Interwebz reserved for 16-year-old boys (or any other demographic, for that matter). Your content should definitely speak to the interests and sensibilities (or lack thereof) of the core group you’re trying to reach, but let’s not forget that it can speak to just about everyone else online, too.