1000+ Followers. Cause for Celebration? Maybe not!

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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. The blog has just gone through a month long anniversary extravaganza. 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 last post – taking a sober second look at my social media platforms. 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:

  • WordPress – 428
  • Facebook (author page) – 203
  • Twitter – 429

Facebook author page

I used to get around 2 new likes on my author 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 weekend, I have had 40 people like my page. Cause for celebration? Cue up the happy dance music?  Not so fast.

I am currently running a Rafflecopter draw for two $25.00 Amazon Gift Certificates to go along with the Blog Tour I’m doing. I checked out at least 30 of the new people who had liked my Facebook author page and they all had Facebook pages entirely devoted to entering various contests. A fine diversion if you have the time and who is to say they aren’t also avid book readers. Still – that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I ran the contest.

Each new blog entry I do is posted to my Facebook author page, so all those who have liked me do see that notice in their newsfeed. That is if they haven’t blocked info from me the second after they liked me. Who knows? My point – this Facebook stat (203) probably means very little when it comes to my blog.

Twitter

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.

WordPress Followers

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 32 likes. A far cry short of 428 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.

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.

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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.

40 comments on “1000+ Followers. Cause for Celebration? Maybe not!

  1. I am so glad you posted this article! I don’t have any of these social medias and don’t want them as I find them too invasive… the downfall (others consider it to be) is my small circle of faithful followers that truly follow me and I them. No extravagant numbers of likes and followers but I truly prefer the coziness of what seems more like a family network 🙂
    Thanks for bringing to light this subject!

    • So much is about how we frame things, how we focus the lenses. One person’s idea of a downfall is definitely another’s view of success. I’m with you on this one. A cozy, interactive blog with followers who engage. Small is beautiful.

  2. Hahahaha I will celebrate 1k wordpress followers…maybe someday

  3. Boy, are we on the same page. I supposedly have over 400 followers, but today, for example, a grand total of 7 have visited the blog. I have a sneaky feeling that about 10 people are really reading my posts regularly, so any confidence I might build about selling my forthcoming novel shouldn’t be based on the number of people who seem to be engaged. So many of them are doing the same thing I’m doing, after all: putting together a marketing platform.

    Thanks for the wake-up call, Francis.

    • I go back and forth with the issue you have raised here, Kevin. What is the point of a bunch of authors all following each other? More and more I see that we have to make it about way more than marketing or the whole endeavour is a massive waste of time. Here’s a radical idea – I might discontinue likes on my blog and stop using the function on other people’s blogs. If I don’t have the time to read and actively engage then you won’t hear from me at all. I wonder how that would change the way I feel about blogging? One year plus into this experience, I’m finding I want to push the envelope a bit.

      • I just wrote about this post at my blog. Thanks again, Francis.

      • I agree with you about “Likes”, Francis. I don’t want someone liking my post if they never read it. I’ve gotten likes within a second after posting…they didn’t even have time to read it! I’m going to like this post because I did read it and I truly like it. 🙂

        • Thanks so much for the like and the comment, Jill. I think the issue of “likes” could generate a post or two of its own. I’m putting it on my handy-dandy future post list.

  4. dorysworld says:

    I agree entirely, it’s the quality of the engagement that counts not the numbers on the stats page. They are pretty meaningless unless you know people are actively participating. Great blog 🙂

    • Thanks, Dory. The quality of engagement is the key for me and the only way I have to measure that is by the actual things people are willing to put down in writing in the public forum of comments on my blog.

  5. rarasaur says:

    Loved this, Francis. Our stats aren’t a reflection of much– just measurements of certain, specific indicators. I’ve written about this a lot before because I get a little frustrated with places that ask to see our followers as if it has specific meaning. In my case, there’s not a soul who follows me on twitter who doesn’t follow me on WP– so they’re double counted. That bothers me, too, for some reason… Still, I’d rather have the stat data than not– and no other blogging platform offers them to the level that WP does.

    On a related note, please don’t discontinue likes, it makes me sad, 😦 , and I inevitably stop following because I’m such a crummy commentor and no like-button makes me feel like a bad person for reading and leaving, haha! But I’m reading, I am!

    • Good point on the likes, Rarasaur. You make me rethink my above comment to Dory. Though comments are the only concrete measurement I have of engagement, I don’t know what the people who don’t comment do with what they have or have not read. They may go out and talk my ideas up, think about what I’ve written, write their own ideas that have been ignited, etc. etc. No crystal balls. Better hang onto that like button – I don’t want to lose you!

  6. Gemma Hawdon says:

    I agree with you on not focusing too much on follower nos, especially if Twitter is included in those stats! The one positive about shifting to a self-published blog is that there’s no illusions. There are no ‘like’ options or Reader followers, only email followers which come slowly! I guess I get to see how lonely my blog really is. But well done all the same – 1000 is a great number, no matter what it’s made up from 🙂

    • The no illusions aspect of your shift to a self-hosted blog is one of the things I really enjoy about your blog, Gemma. It means that when I stop in and read I really have to take the time to engage so I can comment in an intelligent fashion. You call us to be more responsible blog-o-sphere citizens. Thank you for that.

      • Gemma Hawdon says:

        I am touched, thank you Francis. I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed with blogging lately as it’s hard to find the time (hence I haven’t blogged in a few weeks!). It’s encouraging comments like these that keeps me going. Thank you

  7. Simply put, it comes down to quality vs. quantity. In my limited experience (1 year August 29th), I have noticed that the people who are truly interested in my work are from Word Press. And even here there are a select few. These bloggers write for the sake of writing and are mutually supportive. The hard part for me is to weed out ones that I wish to follow. Others are simply interested in getting me into their blogging “business”.

    • I hear you on the weeding process. I am now in a position of seeing a lot of posts pop up in the Reader that I don’t even open. I’ve gone through a weeding process a couple of times, but I do want to consider the idea of not following someone carefully. I suppose it’s like anything in our lives – we have a close circle of people, and then another circle and another circle – each one moving further away from us.

  8. I think it’s all very confusing and frustrating to know what to put effort into. It is most definitely true that the quality of followers trumps the quantity and even if it is a small family that is formed it is nice to know you have some dear followers who are truly engaged and interested in your work.

  9. […] of Disappearing In Plain Sight, makes an excellent point in a post about blogging and social media: “1000+ Followers. Cause for Celebration? Maybe not.” Those of us busting our humps to build a platform for marketing self-published novels live for […]

  10. Roy McCarthy says:

    The post many of us have thought of writing Francis. I agree 100%. Maybe WP ought to ditch the ‘amazing followers’ widget altogether – it’s like adding apples and pears. The ‘like’ button is however a refuge for those of us that read a blog but have nothing of substance to add. It’s a spam tool for some, but that’s easily ignored.

    • Another vote in favour of retaining the like – you make a good point, Roy. We don’t always have something new to add to a comment stream – that doesn’t mean we aren’t willing to acknowledge our support. Blogging 101 – no hard and fast rules. I guess, like all these measurement, take the likes with a healthy grain of salt.

  11. mpskydog says:

    Very true. I know for one, I have only a very small handful of ‘followers’ on my blog. But everyone I’m friends with on Facebook gets tossed into the Facebook pool of followers, which is misleading. Not to mention, since Facebook filters so much of your newsfeed, (and what isn’t filtered has to contend with vague status updates from friends and pictures of funny animals) even if they didn’t block you it doesn’t mean they’ll actually see more stuff.

    • Good point on the way Facebook filters the newsfeed. You can’t count on much getting out that far and wide. And all this hoopla about boost your posts – I am totally stymied by what Facebook’s stats might mean – x people saw this post. What does that mean?

  12. codecalla says:

    I haven’t taken the time to analyze the meta data about my followers, likes, or readers. I use blogging as a medium to write about different things I’m curious about, and discuss my publications for readers who may or may not follow. I also like the “like” button. I may not have the time to comment everything I am thinking when I read over other blogs, but at least with the like button, I’ve taken the time to acknowledge I thought it interesting. As a function of marketing, it might just be easier to hire someone to work through the details. I currently don’t have time. On the other hand, people are pressed for time, so I’d prefer to put out quality content instead of constantly reminding people to buy my book. I have to work on my sales attitude=D

    • Good solid points, Codecalla. I envy you not to have wasted your time on questionable stats. I’m toting up another vote in favour of the like button. And most important of all – quality content will sell way more books than any promotion I can think of. Thanks for weighing in on the dialogue 🙂

  13. Francina says:

    Your blog was mentioned in my wp reader and I thought I take a peek. Thank you for this post. Personally I don’t really look much at the stats. I just like to blog ever so often . I do have a small steady crowd of commenters which I always visit in return to comment on their post. I mean how many blogs can one follow really on a daily base? I prefer quality vs quantity. 🙂

    • I’m hearing this comment again and again – quality vs quantity. Ditto that. And you’re so right – who really has time to adequately follow hundreds of blogs. It’s hard not to keep adding people, though. Especially when there are so many great bloggers out there.

  14. Gwen says:

    I think the “Like” button carries a lot of ambiguity. I use it often when reading a post, but it’s clear that some bloggers shoot through their reader and “like” every post without even reading them. My suspicion is they’ve got their own agenda – to attract readers and generate a following on their own blog(s) – but to what avail?

    You’ve raised a lot of great questions lately, Fran, about the purpose and usefulness of social media. Writers are encouraged to get involved in seemingly endless platforms, but who besides other writers actually pay attention? Isn’t it readers we want to reach? Do our potential readers spend their valuable time cruising around social media “liking” posts and checking their Twitter feeds with manic regularity? My hunch is no. So then what’s the grand purpose of it all?

    The days I feel like giving up on writing all together are the days I’m feeling overwhelmed with the supposed demands and obligations of social media. I enjoyed writing a whole lot more when I didn’t feel bogged down with all these “extras” we’re supposed to be involved in. About the only platform I truly enjoy is blogging: the interacting and learning from other bloggers.

    Thanks again for giving your readers more thought-provoking questions to ponder. You’ve made me think about the number of blogs I follow, and why. When I log into my reader, there are certain blogs I look forward to reading, and yours is at the top of my list.

    • You’ve cut to the crux of the matter – I might add, as usual, Gwen 🙂 How do we connect with readers? I’m with you – I enjoy blogging, everything else seems like quite a chore, taking precious time away from what I really need to be doing – writing. And you know what – I suspect the writing is the only thing that will really connect. My mantra now is to get the next book out and the next and the next. Thanks so much for the great comment, Gwen. I’ll return your compliment and say that I your blog is tops on my list and I’m always thrilled to see a comment with your name on it.

  15. This is an interesting post to come upon, as I was just about to load your blog into my RSS reader. You won’t see a follow from me because I use feedly as my reader (now that Google Reader has retired) instead of WordPress Reader (lacks the organization tools I need), but I will receive your posts, and be able to like and comment on them. I do enjoy checking my blog stats, but, as you point out, they don’t often tell the real story. However, my goal as a writer is to have my work read and enjoyed, so it is encouraging when the sincere likes and comments come through. There are plenty of articles about writers and social media that show the importance, benefits, and balance, especially if your goal is to be a published author. As you mention, for us it should be about connecting with readers, and Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media apps are great tools to help make those connections. I had a lot of fun learning about and experimenting with them, and now use them at my own pace.

    • Thanks for the follow, Darla. Importance, benefits, and balance – I am finding the balance part to be the key. Thanks to all the great comments on this post, I’m in a reassessment of my reassessment related to social media platforms 🙂 I am getting back to the fun aspects of Twitter and enjoying that again. Tweaking things until the fit seems to be the secret. Thanks for taking the time to join this conversation.

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