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The secret to finding and sharing online content that matters

By Clay Morgan

The Internet is an ocean of information. We often focus on how to reach more people by being heard over competing waves of noise, but what if we flip the script? How do we find what we need in the swirling digital sea? How do we sift through all those crashing waves to pluck the few relevant and significant items from a sea of distracting content?

Feedly and Buffer are the apps that answer such questions; a one-two punch for finding and sharing all the relevant web content you care about in the cluttered Internet ecosystem.

We'll cover both so you can find all the content you want without missing important updates and then share your findings for more effective audience engagement. First let's look at Feedly.

What is Feedly?

A lot of people think of RSS as Really Simple Syndication. The basic idea is to get content you want sorted and delivered in a neatly organized and customized way. Desktop users can use a good RSS reader to replace bulky browser bookmark lists and a bunch of open tabs sitting there until you get around to reading those articles. Smartphone and tablet users can avoid using a web browser altogether with Feedly's slick app.

You've probably seen the RSS symbol around the web.

Consider it a shortcut for subscribing to a site's content. When a new article or blog update is posted, subscribers to that site's RSS feed will be updated by their reader. This simple technology is key for the vast majority of people who don't have time to visit their favorite websites many times a day.

Is Feedly the only option?

No, other reader services exist. For a long time, Google Reader seemed the most popular, but when Google announced it was retiring the popular aggregator, many of us panicked. Why did we have to find a new reader? Which one should we choose? Would we lose all our saved sites?

In that time, Feedly emerged as a strong alternate candidate. After reviewing many options and asking fellow Internet dwellers about their experiences, we prefer Feedly for three main reasons.

1. Cutting-edge technology

Feedly made it really easy to transfer feeds from Google Reader to Feedly and their team has consistently tweaked and improved their product ever since. The user experience keeps getting better.

2. Usability and readability

When you want to keep up with a website, simply copy the URL, go to feedly.com and click "Add Content." It's that simple.

You can create categories to organize the types of sites you like. View everything at once in a glorious hodgepodge of all the things you love or browse one category at a time. You can also choose to display your content at least five different ways, from only the title of each post to the full article. If at any point you wish to clean out your feed, simply click "mark as read" and wait for fresh updates to appear.

You can export and import your list of feeds in a snap by choosing "Save as OPML" in the Organize tab. Church leaders can use this functionality to transfer their favorite lists of feeds with friends or team members.   

3. A good app

This last point was the key. With the app on your phone, you can swipe through dozens of headlines in seconds. Don't have time to read the intriguing story you just discovered? No problem. Simply click the little bookmark icon to put posts with potential into your "Saved for Later" category.

Best of all, Feedly allows you to share content right from the app to just about anywhere. Send articles via email or text message. Sync your Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus accounts and share directly onto your wall with one click. They've done a great job integrating with just about every major tool you could use.

This integration is seriously awesome, whether you use OneNote, LinkedIn, Dropbox, IFTTT, Zapier or any of the popular other resources already mentioned.

Feedly integration with Buffer is awesome

One of Feedly's greatest integrations is with Buffer, a powerful tool for sharing content effectively on the web. Few people have time to sit at a computer all day. Like Hootsuite, Buffer gives you control over what, where and when you share content. Link your various profiles to this app, and it will follow your direction.

With Buffer, you can spend a couple minutes setting up what you want to share in coming days or weeks, during the best times to engage people on social media networks. You can also use FollowerWonk or SocialBro to analyze Twitter for the best time to tweet. These tools help you pinpoint when your followers are most active so you can schedule accordingly.

You can share any update to all or some of your social media profiles. The Buffer icon also appears in your message composition boxes for Facebook and Twitter, so you can use a custom schedule right from there.

Setting, modifying, and pausing your posting schedule is easy, and you can shuffle the order of queued posts with drag and drop functionality.

One downside is that personal Google+ accounts cannot be linked. So far, Google has only allowed apps to connect with public pages, which might be great if you have such a page for your church or ministry.

Buffer or Hootsuite?

Buffer and Hootsuite are both great tools, and your choice comes down to personal preference. You may find that Hootsuite is better for consuming social media and Buffer is better at sharing it. In regard to Feedly, Buffer holds one key advantage for desktop users: You'll have to upgrade to Feedly Pro to use Hootsuite on your desktop.

Here are a few other great features offered by Buffer:

  • With the Buffer extension installed on your web browser, you can highlight any text you want to share and a Buffer button appears to share that exact clip to your profiles.
  • Twitter name prediction is great when crafting an update. You don't have to look up the handle of the person or organization you want to mention. Buffer provides it automatically. Not only can you just start typing a person's name to get the correct handle, Buffer will convert it to the person's proper name on other social networks to which you are sharing the same update.
  • You'll find a slew of analytics too. Buffer tracks everything you share, providing analytics so you'll know how many people were reached by each update you send. You can receive a weekly progress report via email showing how your shares performed (likes, clicks, etc.) on various platforms.
  • You can assign team members to help post.
  • Links are automatically shortened through bit.ly integration, if you prefer.

With limited time and a seemingly infinite Internet, keeping up with important, useful information is challenging enough. Effectively sharing great content to engage and grow your audience is even harder if you still prefer to actually get sleep at night.

With Feedly and Buffer, you can seem to be everywhere at once and with your finger on the pulse of what your friends and followers care most deeply about. With a minimum investment of time, use these tools to go from sinking in an ocean of noise to practically walking on digital water.