Don’t follow me if…

follow

Social media is a funny thing when it comes to readership. For many it is a matter of numbers, about how many friends you can get on Facebook, how many followers on Tumblr. On Instagram it can reach ridiculous heights with desperate requests, often multiple, aimed at Instagrammers to FOLLOW ME?

On WordPress the atmosphere is different: no intrusive posts as on FB inviting you to befriend ‘people you may know’, no requests to become a ‘friend’ even if you’ve never heard of them, no despairing pleas to include in your social circle complete strangers posting selfies. And yet there are the bloggers who hope you will be their ersatz companion in their virtual world. Who are they, and how do I know whether they’re genuine or not?

Well, first they never ‘like’ a post, nor do they comment. (I’m not talking spammers here, by the way, but Crikey do they comment.) This is the first sign that they haven’t read your posts, and really don’t know the content of your blog.

Second, they have something to sell. It may be religion (“How to take Jesus/Thor/Gaia into your heart.”). It may be how to get more followers — for a fee. It may simply be someone hoping that you’ll think their novel, published in chapter-length posts, is just the thing to light up your world and give them that validation that they want; well, I understand that — we’re nearly all of us by posting looking for validation, are we not? — but surely this is not the way to go about it.

WordPress have useful advice on getting more traffic and, by extension, getting more followers if that’s what you want. If you want more views, they say, read and comment on other blogs. They suggest you “find the people that care about the same stuff that you do”. They then think you should “subscribe to their blog and get to know them a bit. When you see an article that interests you, click through to their site and leave a comment with your thoughts.” As Mr Punch says, that’s the way to do it.

Blogging is not just about you (though it’s tempting to think so). It’s about how you connect with other people, even if you don’t care whether you have a thousand, ten or zilch followers, otherwise you wouldn’t air your thoughts online. And it’s that connection that I’m interested in, not bigging up my legion of camp followers.

So, don’t follow me if you don’t read my blog, or if you’re not interested in my ideas. But then, hey, if you’ve read this far you probably are interested — in fact, you and I may have been conversing a long time. I really won’t be offended if you neither ‘like’ nor comment. But it would be nice if you did.

And now that reminds me, where are those blogs I’ve followed and neglected to read, like or respond to in a long time? Or indeed ever…

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32 thoughts on “Don’t follow me if…

    1. You’re so right about integrity, Flint, a key aspect of which I feel must be respect, for self and of course for others. Thanks for drawing that out from all my ramblings!

    2. Typical of that respect, or lack of it, is the blogger who followed me just as this post went live — her strapline is “Get MOTIVATED, Get off that couch, Create an INCOME ONLINE, Become more PRODUCTIVE”. What’s the betting she hasn’t read the ?post

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Chris. It’s interesting how each social media platform has developed a very different culture towards following. As you say, what is seen as the norm on one platform can be jarring or even upsetting when displayed on another.
    I see it as just another extension of how we split our behaviour into roles in real life depending on the situation at hand (at work, at home, out with neighbours, out with life-long friends etc.)

    I’m with you on wordpress follows. I have a similar number of followers as you yet the number of people I interact with is much smaller. I’m personally happy for people to follow me regardless but like you I don’t enjoy the “please follow back because I followed you” mentality.

    1. It’s the intrusiveness that gets my goat, Dylan, but at least WP is good at filtering spam and inviting you to approve comments from bloggers new to you.

      As for interaction, I also have a WP photoblog, and that results in some welcome cross-pollination, as it were.

      And you’ve reminded me that I specifically need to visit blogs like yours more regularly and not just rely on the WP Reader to keep tabs on who’s posting…

  2. What a great post. What I have most enjoyed about blogging in my first year isthe connection to other like minded people. Followers are an extension of this. It’s funny, my blog is about not buying any new books, but I still get authors offering me their books to read and review, proving that they haven’t even read my ‘About’ page!

  3. I have just moved into a new house and the internet connection is bad… really bad, I have missed reading post from other bloggers and keeping in touch with them. ( So you now have my excuse for not commenting often)

    Ok I am off before my internet di….

      1. The internet at the local bar / cafe is spot on. But I am not sure Mrs S likes me spending all day in the bar with a glass of wine in my hand, just to say hi to good friends on wordpress.

        happy Sunday

        PN

  4. Ditto all of the above. I have to confess that I’m guilty of following but not reading several blogs. OK, if we’re honest, a lot more than “several”. I want to support the good bloggers, but heavens! where’s the time to do all that reading? All the email notices of posts start to pile up, and a kind of virtual anxiety of over-choice sets in: I should be reading books instead of blog posts, and writing instead of reading anything.

    As for followers who don’t read my blog, or who are trying to sell me something — I can think of worse crimes, especially since I’m trying to sell something as well.

    It must all even out at some point: Perhaps in an alternate universe, there’s a version of me whose job is to read and comment on a few hundred blogs.

    1. It’s relatively easy with photoblogs to keep up using the WordPress reader, but with more wordy posts I sometimes think I’ll come back to them — and then forget. Mea culpa I suppose for wanting to follow so many worthy blogs.

    2. Oh, don’t feel bad if you have something to sell — it’s the genuine engagement with other bloggers that marks you out, not a vision of correspondents as an audience of consumers. In a way we’re all selling something: our reputations as interesting, entertaining and witty writers. And, in my case, with a fine line in self-deprecation!

  5. I’m guilty of following more blogs than I have time (or take time) to read. I try to be a good follower, so at least once a week I go through my “Reader” list (love this about WP) in the hopes of catching up. I find e-mail notices work well for me.
    Perhaps part of the problem with “phantom” followers (those you never see or hear from) is that these may be people who liked a particular post and decide to follow only to promptly forget. I am amazed at how many followers I have, yet if I get even 8 people to “like” a post, I consider this a win.
    I can’t complain about phantom followers, because I know out there somewhere there are bloggers wondering who their phantom followers are. I may be one of them.

    1. Good term that, phantom followers! I suppose I’m not castigating those who follow with the very best of intentions — I’m as guilty of that as you say you are — it’s those chasing follow-backs, pure and simple. For example four people have “followed” me. One is genuine, I know; of the remaining three one is a photoblogger and two are about increasing traffic and making money. I won’t hear from the last three again…

  6. You’re an example to us all – a Gentleman of the Airwaves as I think I said before! I’m always delighted when the unicorn shows up…and amazed by the support you’ve given me!

    1. It helps that I can’t get enough of what you post about your mother’s writings, and that I like the way you at the same time entertain and elucidate Joan’s fiction.

  7. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I do always check on anyone who has followed or commented on my blog (I have relatively few followers/likers/commenters, so this is not difficult) and then try to stay connected with them if it seems we have interests in common, but if not I have no compunction about not reciprocating. The “you must follow me if I follow you” mentality seems to be seeing the relationship almost as a monetary exchange. What I like about blogging is its freedom — I’m free to say what I want, comment where I want, and leave others free to do the same. Don’t turn it into a form of phantom currency!

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