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Bloglovin: free RSS reader for the aesthetically-inclined

(Social Media) Bloglovin is marketed as a tool for women and fashionistas, but any manly man or business woman can use it to beautifully boost productivity.

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bloglovin

bloglovin

RSS readers are still popular

For news junkies, or information hounds, the best way to keep up with all of the updates on websites and blogs is through a RSS feed reader so that all updates are fed to one place. When Google killed Google Reader, the most popular option on the market, most people looked to Feedly as an alternative, which was more like a magazine and less like a list of links with a wall of text.

But Feedly isn’t the only option on the market, and competitors like Digg’s new feed reader are looking to appeal to the visual element that early feed readers lacked. With Feedly’s mobile app, you get beautiful transitions that make reading faster, and on Digg, you have tons of social sharing options built right into the free product.

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But there’s one feed reader that caught our attention, but we have long ignored for our own use, simply because it is branded as a fashion blog reader and looks a lot like Pinterest when you visit their landing page – Bloglovin.

Bloglovin launched many years ago, saw a $1 million cash infusion, and today has over 16 million unique monthly visitors. According to tech writer, Anthony Ha, has announced a $7 million Series A. The founders have expressed to Ha that they want to be the “ultimate platform” for expressing yourself by curating content that you like

But isn’t Bloglovin for women and Pinterest addicts?

“The [$7M] investment will be used primarily to recruit engineering talent,” CEO Joy Marcus told Ha. “Our focus remains on enhancing the user experience, particularly around discovery and curation, as well as growing our key women’s lifestyle verticals, including fashion, DIY, beauty, and food.”

According to Bloglovin’s CEO, yes, Bloglovin is kind of a place for the ladies, but when you get past the setup process, we see it as more of a feed reader for the aesthetically-inclined, regardless of gender or industry.

If you’re a financial analyst, look at the image above to see that I can skim the WSJ economy section (which I do), or AGBeat (hint, hint). The content contained in a feed reader is up to you.

Yes, suggested content will be fashion blogs and cook book stuff, and it looks like a feed reader for Pinterest addicts (and their marketing affirms my suspicion of this), but for your own use, it doesn’t have to be a feminine experience, rather a rich, visual experience, which for many (like me) lends to faster reading.

Below is the setup process – it took under a minute to get going, and immediately sped up my reading time, which can help anyone’s productivity.

1. Setting up

bloglovin setup
When you first visit the site, you’ll be asked to sign up – doing so through Facebook was extremely easy for me, and didn’t require that I allow Bloglovin to post on my wall (which I liked).

The blog suggestions may not appeal to you, but calm down, you can add your own feeds. It’s easy to grab a few to get started and you can delete feeds later. Try searching for “business” or “economy,” and see that normal options pop up.

2. Add friends

bloglovin
If you sign up through Facebook, it’ll show you which of your friends are already on Bloglovin, and you can see what they’re sharing. The company appears to also be a budding social network of sorts, but we suggest sticking to the quick in-and-out of the feed reader function if you’re using it as a productivity tool (but seeing what friends share can expand your horizons, so don’t ignore that portion, just do it when you aren’t in a time crunch).

And yes, I acknowledge that everyone on Bloglovin that is also my friend is a woman. They openly market to women, but guys, don’t let that dissuade you – it’s like if steak was marketed to women, would you really care? Nope, you’d eat steak. So go eat steak, gah!

3. Browser extensions and a huge complaint

bloglovin
Sure, Bloglovin comes with a handy browser extension to reinforce how behind you are on your reading by telling you how many new stories are in your reader, but this is where I got stuck and the technology deities couldn’t save me. I run a Chrome extension for HootSuite, and it wanted to interact with Bloglovin since they’re friends, but I got stuck in an infinite loop that I couldn’t get out of because of the conflict, and had to type “Bloglovin.com” in my browser to get out of the loop, which I did.

4. The Bloglovin feed

bloglovin
Here it is in all of its glory, the final product. You can quickly skim, mark as read, read in depth, or see what others have posted. It isn’t too foreign, and looks like a spruced up version of other feed readers you’ve used.

5. How a full story renders

bloglovin
When you click on a story, it takes you to the source, but leaves a Bloglovin toolbar at the top so you can not only share the story from there, but click to the next story, newer or older (which is kind of neat).

6. Features you’re used to

bloglovin
You can organize your feeds just like any other RSS reader, separating them out by topic or business and personal, so you only spend time where it’s required at the moment.

The takeaway

Bloglovin may be marketed to ladies, or filled to the brim with Pinterest addicts, but you can quietly sneak in and use the tool to speed up your reading time if you’re aesthetically-inclined, helping your work productivity immensely. Give it a try and tell us what you think.

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*New* TikTok Insights launch: Content creators finally get audience analytics

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The popular short-form app, TikTok, finally launches the anticipated Insights feature, where content creators can view target audience data.

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Two girls filming on TikTok.

Marketers searching for the zeitgeist which means TikTok scrollers pause to watch their content and then click through to buy a product have a new tool to help make that happen.

  • TikTok Insights offers marketers bite-size bits of user demographic information that will help build content that leads to sales.
  • With TikTok Insights you can learn more about your audience’s behavior, their interests, and their general sentiment toward brands.
  • TikTok Insights is free to use. Marketers can find TikTok user demographics by using filters to determine what they’re looking for.

The demographic info can be age-focused, focused on specific types of marketing, or even as specific as holiday or event marketing.

This is a step in the direction marketers have been asking for as they create content for the TikTok platform; however, creators looking for detailed analytics like they get from meta need to wait. Insights doesn’t offer that for now.

Like TikTok says in its own analytic information,

“While analytics are helpful in understanding the performance of your videos, you don’t need to create future videos based primarily around them. It’s best to consider the bigger picture, lean lightly on analytics, and use them as a source for insight rather than strategy.”

Marketers trying to key into reaching TikTok’s billion users worldwide are left, right now, searching for the magic that leads to consumers making the jump from the platform to using their purchasing power.

For marketers that means keeping things creative and collaborative, two key factors in TikTok’s success. And that success is huge. Users spend an average of 52 minutes on the platform when they log in and a staggering 90% of users say they log on every day.

TikTok Insights will help marketers find ways to connect, but the content TikTok is looking for is authentic.

And while entrepreneurs can bid for advertising like other social media platforms, they need to remember when planning that spend, that most TikTok marketing success stories are more accidental than planned. Have fun with that knowledge. Instead of pressure to create the perfect plan, TikTok Insights allows marketers to keep it creative and to find a way to tie it into what they enjoy about the platform.

Like all other social media marketing, focus on creating content that stops the consumer from their continual scroll. Make it a challenge and keep it real.

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Grindr got busted for selling users’ data locations to advertisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) User data has been a hot topic in the tech world. It’s often shared haphazardly or not protected, and the app Grindr, follows suit.

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Grindr on phone in man's hands

If you’re like me, you probably get spam calls a lot. Information is no longer private in this day and age; companies will buy and sell whatever information they can get their hands on for a quick buck. Which is annoying, but not necessarily outright dangerous, right?

Wrong.

Grindr has admitted to selling their user’s data, however, they are specifically selling the location of their users without regard for liability concerns. Grindr, a gay hook-up app, is an app where a marginalized community is revealing their location to find a person to connect to. Sure, Grindr claims they have been doing this less and less since 2020, but the issue still remains: they have been selling the location of people who are in a marginalized community – a community that has faced a huge amount of oppression in the past and is still facing it to this day.

Who in their right mind thought this was okay? Grindr initially did so to create “real-time ad exchanges” for their users, to find places super close to their location. Which makes sense, sort of. The root of the issue is that the LGBTQAI+ community is a community at risk. How does Grindr know if all of their users are out? Do they know exactly who they’re selling this information to? How do they know that those who bought the information are going to use it properly?

They don’t have any way of knowing this and they put all of their users at risk by selling their location data. And the data is still commercially available! Historical data could still be obtained and the information was able to be purchased in 2017. Even if somebody stopped using Grindr in, say, 2019, the fact they used Grindr is still out there. And yeah, the data that’s been released has anonymized, Grindr claims, but it’s really easy to reverse that and pin a specific person to a specific location and time.

This is such a huge violation of privacy and it puts people in real, actual danger. It would be so easy for bigots to get that information and use it for something other than ads. It would be so easy for people to out others who aren’t ready to come out. It’s ridiculous and, yeah, Grindr claims they’re doing it less, but the knowledge of what they have done is still out there. There’s still that question of “what if they do it again” and, with how the world is right now, it’s really messed up and problematic.

If somebody is attacked because of the data that Grindr sold, is Grindr complicit in that hate crime, legally or otherwise?

So, moral of the story?

Yeah, selling data can get you a quick buck, but don’t do it.

You have no idea who you’re putting at risk by selling that data and, if people find out you’ve done it, chances are your customers (and employees) will lose trust in you and could potentially leave you to find something else. Don’t risk it!

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BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.

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social media - bereal app

BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.

According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.

It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.

As the app says when you go to its page:

Be Real.

Your Friends

for Real.

Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.

A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.

BeReal app

The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.

“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”

The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”

Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.

And fake.

Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.

For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.

None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.

We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.

BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.

It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.

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