Followers: Voluntary or Involuntary?

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Thursday 16 January, 2014 by Uncle Spike

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Just a question…. Followers; should they be voluntary or not?

What got me tickling my thinning hair about all this was the extraordinary numbers of ‘followers’ one sometimes sees on some blogs, compared to others. Sure, some blogs attract more than others; we all have our strengths and weaknesses, granted, and this will, by and large, be reflected in our numbers.

But, are they all voluntary followers?

Should we bloggers really count involuntary followers? 

What you on about Spike? Well, I remember last year when I started out on WordPress, and how I had a short blast with the Publicise feature – you know, where your posts can be auto-sent to Facebook, Twitter etc. But after just a couple of days, I ditched that idea. I still ‘publicise’ on Twitter, but only occasionally add stuff to Facebook manually, not via ‘publicise’.

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Why? Well, here’s my take on it. To me, a ‘follower’ is someone who has taken the specific move to say “yes, mister, I want to see or at least be informed about all your posts”. But can, or should, I honestly assume that my other social media friends/followers want the same? I don’t think so; well, that’s my personal opinion anyway.

My WordPress followers have all ‘clicked Follow’ or added their own email addresses, so yes, they are voluntary followers, so, in my mind, I can legitimately count them of course 🙂

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I have a Twitter account too, but as that was created specifically for blog-followers and I don’t ‘follow’ anyone or even read Twitter, I also count my (20) Twitter followers as genuine voluntary blog followers and so yes, they remain in my ‘publicise’ list.

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However, my Facebook account is a personal thing, something I’ve had for ages (or a few years at least) and my 300 or so ‘friends’ are just that… made up of family, friends (old and new), travel companions and former work colleagues – you know how it is. Sure, a few of them do read my blog, but I guess that to be around 10%, if that. Everyone of my FB friends knows about the blog, so all have the opportunity to ‘follow’ via WP, Twitter or email.

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However, unless they have taken that step to become a voluntary follower, I felt uncomfortable shoving ALL my blog posts on to my Timeline (and therefore on to their daily reading list). I do add a few blog posts there (special travel stories etc) but on the whole, I keep Facebook for ‘personal’ stuff.

So that brings me back to numbers of followers… This blog has some 1407 ‘voluntary’ followers, of which I am very grateful and proud to spend my time writing my posts for. But, I could click one button on ‘publicise‘, and immediately increase that to 1707+… but I won’t, as they would be ‘involuntary’ followers, and unable to ‘unfollow/unsubscribe’, and that just goes against the grain, don’t you think?

Following advice from you a few of you… I created a Facebook page specifically for the blog as a way for Facebooky folk to follow the blog too, but ‘voluntarily’. Seems like the sensible option as I have some friends who don’t look at blogs, but don’t want notification emails either – this way they see it on FB along with any other ‘pages’ they follow.

Naturally, it’s a page called Uncle Spike’s Adventures 🙂

Thanks for everyone’s help and advice….

UNCLE SPIKE

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40 thoughts on “Followers: Voluntary or Involuntary?

  1. […] The total Spikey count is somewhere shy of 1500 right now, with 1354 followers on WordPress, 16 who opted to receive emails when I post something, and then we have 21 on Twitter and 75 who follow the blog’s own Facebook page. I purposely do not ‘publish’ to my personal Facebook timeline, as I prefer to not force my stuff on friends and family. Those who want to follow do so, as above, but I’m not into what I term ‘involuntary followers’. […]

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  2. SPFischer says:

    This is such a great post and a timely one for me. I just created a FB page this past week, precisely because I was feeling kind of uncomfortable about posting my blog content to my personal page. Like others, I did feel like I was spamming my FB friends (though a number of them did end up following via WP). I also realized very early on that the Publicize feature automatically upped my numbers. I stopped that too; again, because I wanted to be selective about what I published to each platform.

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    • Uncle Spike says:

      Hoorah, someone who understands exactly what I was going on about 🙂

      I have a few hundred ‘friends’ on my personal FB so also felt like a spammer. I now have a FB page and 66 followers on there. You also get useful stats on a FB page, and I can see what posts folk actually look at and those they dont.

      How did you find that post out of interest?

      Liked by 1 person

      • SPFischer says:

        I actually came by to say thank you for leaving likes on a number of my Weekly Photo Challenges. But I started browsing first and I just got “sucked” into your blog (I mean this in nothing but a good way!) and came across this post. Sent this reply before finding the place I wanted to say “hi” and “thank you,” but I guess that has now been solved 😀 Enjoying your blog!

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  3. This post must have struck a chord with me. I almost never read an entire comment thread. I started blogging via FB Notes, but didn’t like the inflexible format. Since moving to WordPress, I created a page on FB where I post a link to my blog, then share that post with my friends. I know from my likes and comments to the shares that I have many “followers” who would not have found my blog, nor would they be inclined to read emailed posts. I like to think they are “volunteer” followers as they take the time to comment on the posts.

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    • Uncle Spike says:

      Sounds like a similar approach to what I have moved to. It’s ‘there if you want it’, rather than trying to make my traditional friends WordPress followers 🙂

      Like

  4. Danielle says:

    I have always thought that followers should be voluntary. I have a personal facebook page and a facebook page I made with the same name as my blog but I don’t post blog on it. I just liked the name and decided to use it. I have tried posting my blog posts to my personal blog via the publish option that wp gives us but I quickly stopped that because I noticed it was driving my family and friends crazy.

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    • Uncle Spike says:

      Haha, me too… so that’s why I now post direct to a blog related FB page only, and my ‘real friends’ then have the option of liking that FB page – simply as a way of them getting the blog posts if they are not WordPress folk.

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  5. relovertigo says:

    I keep my blog and my Facebook lives completely separate. Almost nobody in my personal life knows that I write a blog. Almost none of my followers knows who I really am. And that’s the way I like it. I do publicize via Twitter, but that account was always under a pseudonym, long before I had a blog. I love my anonymity. And honestly, I write my blog for me. I talk to the people who read my posts, but I would be ok if nobody did read them. I do, however, greatly appreciate every person who follows me and actually bothers to read what I write.

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    • Uncle Spike says:

      I’m part in your camp, part in the other. I keep my personal FB etc quite separate, but only coz I know most of my FB guys wouldn’t ‘follow’ by choice.

      So now I have Twitter, FB and email accounts that purely link to the blog, so anyone who is a Twitter or FB only type of person, can follow the blog, that’s all…

      Seems to keep everyone happy that way 🙂 And I retain my private life too.

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  6. I’ve been having thoughts about facebook and really want out, but somehow I managed to connect my facebook to my blog. I don’t even know how I did that, and now, don’t know how to undo it. I just want my followers (friends) to be within the WordPress family. That’s it.

    I’ve also noticed on some blogs, and this gets me a wee bit mad, that when I post I become an automatic follower. Tell me, how does THAT work? Just due to principal I immediately unfollow.

    I want to know with my friends that I have touched them, and that they honestly want to be at my blog. No arm wrestling. No tricks. Just honest touching of someone’s heart.

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  7. Ninna says:

    I didn’t know that if you use the publicize, the friends you have elsewhere show up as followers on the blog. So now you know I haven’t activated the publicize. 😉

    I had a Twitter-account, but deleted it. Couldn’t find out the purpose of having it.
    I still have FaceBook, but almost never go in there. Sometimes I use it to send and receive messages.

    While I had Twitter, I connected FB automatically to it, but no automatic connection from the blog. Once in a while though, when I felt like it, I could leave a link on both T and FB to a new post on my blog. But I stopped doing that when I started to post mainly pictures and write in english instead of in swedish.

    And about reading the blogs I follow, some I read everything, and other now and then. And I get them as mail, which also make “footprints” in the blogs when I “like” or want to see it in original.
    It isn’t enough time to read every post in every blog, so there the reader is a blessing. But it isn’t quite fair that you can “like” from there, and it doesn’t show as an actual visit.

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  8. I’m going to start a discussion about this in the “closed” writing group I belong to on Facebook and give you some feedback on their response. They’re an incredibly forthright lot and many of them are personal friends outside the group, so I’ll get a really honest response, even if I don’t like it! I think my friends like the photos that go with my WP posts, but not many of them bother to follow the link to my blog. I get your point, though, Uncle Spike, about voluntary followers. It’s an interesting one, well worth considering.

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      • I’m back again with my fb friends’ responses. They all say they don’t mind the sharing of blog posts, as they can can choose to ignore them if they want, just as they can ignore anything else shared on fb. Someone else said she liked scrolling down and stumbling upon blog links of interest, and asked how else will people know you’ve written a post if you don’t share it. Another, said shared links expands contacts. And one person put (quote) “Blog posts are more likely to be interesting than some of the trash my relatives put up!”

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        • Uncle Spike says:

          Like the last comment Sarah 🙂

          I now have a FB ‘page’ for both mine and kiddo’s blogs. That way, any of our FB friends can thereby follow using FB (such as my mum who uses FB every day but not WP). Also totally voluntary that way and keeps my follower numbers ‘correct’.

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  9. I’ll add my name to the “should be voluntary followers” list but I’ve taken a slightly different approach. I don’t automatically share each post with my FB page but many of my friends outside of WP know about my blog and several have asked me to send a few posts a week to FB so they can check in with what is happening without getting a daily email. I select posts that are a good match for this audience and click share every few days.

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  10. Jennifer G says:

    Yes, I think Facebook should be kept personal on personal pages. I have made a Facebook page for the blog that is separate from my personal page. People can also choose to follow the blog page on Facebook and see those posts in their news feed, which will make them voluntary followers. But crowding a personal page with blog stuff… I’d opt out of that, too. Kudos, Spike!

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  11. yankwoachain says:

    You can create a Facebook page just for your blog so you can have voluntary followers there, too! It doesn’t have to be connected to your personal page in any way 🙂

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    • Uncle Spike says:

      Yeah, I thought about that, but as I wouldn’t do anything but auto-add my blog posts there, what’s the point. Would folk bother to look at FB ‘instead’ of WP? I presume ıt would have to be a ‘page’ on FB and I dunno how much better the scope would be, if at all?

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      • yankwoachain says:

        Well, some people aren’t familiar with WP at all and only check FB for updates. When I started my blog I posted about it on my private page for any friends to follow if they wanted and now I have about 60 friends following the blog there. This way I’m not spamming friends who don’t really care!

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  12. Peter S says:

    I don’t link my blog to Facebook, mostly because I would prefer that most people I know on Facebook to not know about the blog! Also because I think that when someone logs onto Facebook they expect to read Facebook type things, not blog posts. If someone wants to read a blog they go elsewhere, not Facebook.

    Regarding followers, probably 10% of mine are just self promoters. People who want other bloggers to go to their site to read about how you too can become a millionaire by blogging. Maybe they’re just looking for new blogging ideas by reading my blog!

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  13. I know you don’t like me saying you remind me of my Dad but…. Lol
    When we publicised the blog posts to Facebook and twitter to reach a wider audience the stats jumped up on the side panel to include those followers and my Dad wasn’t happy that the wordpress followers seemed to get swallowed up into the same total 😉
    My Facebook and twitter accounts aren’t personal accounts though they’re a business profile and I’d feel bad too filling general friends and family’s readers up with my diary log 😉

    Like

    • Uncle Spike says:

      yeah, I agree, your accounts are a different thing – all variants are related and therefore using ‘publicise’ makes perfect sense – just not the case perhaps for folk like me, who have non-personal and personal accounts

      Like

    • Uncle Spike says:

      I take it (hope) your dad is a cool, fun, smart, handsome, upstanding member of the community too? 😀

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  14. As I wrote my reply I got another follower – certainly not genuine or remotely interested in my posts:
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    Watch free tutorials in Full HD (1080p) quality video tutorials, sorted by subjects, like: Photoshop, Gimp, Facebook, Torrents, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Viruses and malware removal ( like ask,com, vqo6, Babylon ) and more and more.. If you like our tutorials and guided, please SUBSCRIBE to out channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ShaiSoft – tutorials4view.

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  15. I think I have said to you before that I remain sceptical about statistics, likes and followers. Incidentally the like feature appears not to be working properly at the moment and there is much angst about it in the forums.
    I always try and check out a new follower and take a look at their blog out of interest. Some I follow back but not many. Some are just self-publicising and must be hitting on an awful lot of blogs but then that is their prerogative I guess.
    I have got nearly two thousand followers but it is only the same few people who like or comment so what are the others doing there, I am sure they are not reading the posts so all it is doing is cluttering up their in-boxes or making the reader unmanageable.
    I restrict the number of blogs that I follow to around 50 and regularly review my list and do some spring cleaning.

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    • Uncle Spike says:

      Very similar to me. I keep a short list that I can ‘actually follow’. I usually reckon 30% are those looking for reciprocal followers, 20% are quasi-commercial enterprises, 30% have ‘some interest’ and will remain silent, and perhaps 20% are active followers.

      Yeah, likes have gone wonky for sure.

      Like

  16. fredrieka says:

    I agree with you I do not link my blog. I do have another blog which I most the same post ; or similar. I have been here a short time and actually have more followers then he blog I have else where. Like you say they voluntarily click follow. The difference I notice is most people will press like rather than leave a comment. The other blog people more times then not leave a comment. Not sure why there is a difference but there is. I try to comment on the ones I follow at least once a week just to let them know I really read the whole post and appreciate the time it took to post it

    Like

  17. I dislike Facebook intensely, and haven’t had an account over there since they changed their privacy policy.

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