Yes, dear readers, it’s been an auspicious day. This very blog–Too Much Too Soon reached the lofty goal of 1,000 followers!
I was planning a big blog party when I reached 1000 followers. Well, the milestone has come and gone. I decided against the celebration for a couple of reasons. How much partying can my blog followers stand? One can take a good thing too far, right?
My second reason has to do with the subject of my blog posts that I posted. I got to thinking about how WordPress follower stats are arrived at. This passing the 1000 mark may not be the source of celebration I once thought it would be.
WordPress adds up WordPress members who have actually gone to my blog and chosen to follow, with people who have gone to the blog and followed by asking for email notification of new blog posts, with Facebook followers, with Twitter followers (the last two groups may have never visited my blog), to come up with a grand total.
Here is how the numbers break down for me:
Facebook blog page: Too much Too soon
I used to get around 2 new likes on my blog page per week. There was lots of time for me to check out the people who liked me and see if I liked their pages. It was mostly authors liking authors, but I also had friends of friends and the occasional total stranger. It was all good. Over the past month, I have had 15 people like my page. Cause for celebration? Cue up the happy dance music? Not so fast.
Each new blog entry I do is posted to my Facebook blog page, so all those who have liked me do see that notice in their news-feed. That is if they haven’t blocked info from me the second after they liked me. Who knows? My point – this Facebook stat (236) probably means very little when it comes to my blog.
Twitter followers go up and down daily. I don’t follow everyone who follows me, so I often get dropped, which is fine by me. I look at Twitter as a means of fast-paced social engagement. The simple truth is that I don’t want to engage with everyone.
Including Twitter followers as part of a global blog follower count doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Like Facebook, my blog posts are automatically tweeted out to my followers. There is exposure. But just because someone follows me on Twitter is no indication that they will want to stop by and read my blog.
This number has grown slowly but steadily over the last year. It’s the number that seems actually to mean something, but even this stat can be misleading. An average post on my blog might earn anywhere from 12 to 30 likes. A far cry short of 1,018 and these likes often come from bloggers who don’t actually follow me. Obviously, not everyone who follows me stops by to read my posts and that’s fine. We’re all busy.
I know my true followers through their comments. I think that the only stat that matters is the number of comments on the blog over time. People who take the time to comment are engaged with the material I’ve written, and that is the definition of a follower – for me, anyway.
But, no, my friends, this is not a cause celebrate. It’s hardly even worth more than a raised eyebrow. In fact, don’t you dare even offer congratulations! I beg of thee! You want to know why?
Your blog followers weren’t built in a day.
The majority of blog followers are spammers. They could care less about reading our posts. They never even paused here in the first place! You can watch them follow your blog (if you’re into statistics) and see that they never even read a single word.
There are two kinds of spammers. The first kind of spammer is relatively innocent. She/he just wants you to come over and visit his/her blog. So he/she follows you hoping you’ll follow him/her. Got that? Just innocent egos trying to find their own followers.
The second kind of spammer–shame on them–sells a product and just wants customers. Sometimes they set up a fake blogging account to lure the delighted blogger over to visit. They’re intrepid manipulators. They want your money, your time, your attention and they’re using the blogging system for their gain.
Sometimes smaller followers are just as efficient as bigger.
OK, so let’s mentally get rid of all the spammers who “follow” your blog. Let’s say 200 are evil manipulative spammers and 200 more are egoistic please-come-and-visit-me-even-though-I-won’t-read-a-word-of-your-blog spammers.
So you’re down to 600 legitimate followers. Let’s say you advertise your own blog on Facebook or Twitter. Let’s say you have 150 followers on Facebook who yawn when they see your post on their news feed. ALL of those people are counted! Even if they only “liked” you because that’s what friends do, even though they never, ever intend to visit your blog.
Worse than that, my friend, let’s say 65 of those 235 Facebook followers are ALREADY following your blog. So now you have double counts. Many of my dear friends feature one count as a FB follower of this blog and one count as an honest-to-goodness reader.
Out of our delightful 1,000 readers, we’re down to 450 followers. You actually think 450 people are primed by their email or Reader waiting to read your precious offering? Think again, dear disappointed blogger.
Out of the 450 people who might–just might–have wanted to read your blog, 200 lost interest, got bored, developed a passion for other stuffs, decided they did not like your approach, and simply quit clicking. They still get emails advising them of your posts. However, their mailboxes have 10,000 unread messages and they really don’t care. They’ll delete you someday if they ever get organized.
(But don’t worry–the spammers will make up for their deletions!)
I figure I have maybe 250 followers. They don’t all come-visiting regularly. They’ll come on a certain day depending on how interested they are in nature, blogging, humor, lack of humor, writing, or deep personal/emotional/spiritual outpourings, some kind of motivation.. (Put 25 in each category if you’re trying to make all the numbers somewhat balance.)
I am thinking of eliminating this “follower” button but have not completely decided. Some of us bloggers keep it because we get innocent readers who think “Wow! 1,000 followers! This blogger must really be HOT!”
Just wanted to set you straight. We may not be that hot. That person with 5,000 followers? I’m suspecting she might have a Twitter account.
Sometimes it’s good to travel the more narrow path, don’t you think?
Moral of the Story
I take the stats that people display on their blog, related to the huge number of followers that they have, with a grain of salt. I ask you to do the same with my blog. The value of social media is to engage with other people on topics of similar interest – to create an ongoing dialogue.
What are your thoughts on the whole issue of blog stats and followers? Let me know what you think. I’d love to get into a dialogue with as many of you as I can.