The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Take on the Topic of Blog Followers: by Guest Hijacker Lauren Shearer

     Lauren blogs at Word Art: Painting with Words.  In this Hijack This Blog! feature she discusses that ever popular topic of "Followers".  

*sniff* all her followers left her
Five Reasons You May Have Lost Followers and Why You Shouldn't Be (Too) Upset

Losing followers isn't fun. It's like a little jolt, or like when a bug flies in your eye accidentally, or like when you slip on a banana peel and fall flat on your face. (Because I know that happens to you all the time...)

But hey! You shouldn't be (too) upset. And don't just take my word for it - here are five reasons why a follower may have clicked "unsubscribe,"  and why you shouldn't go into mourning because of it.

(Just FYI, Lee covered blog math and gaining followers in this post. I really appreciated his thoughts on that, so you should go give it a quick read-through either before or after you finish this post. Or during. I guess you can do it during if you want.)

Numero Uno: My blog is boring.

We're prone to telling ourselves this, and you know what? It might actually be the case. You may, in fact, own the Most Boring Blog in Existence (in which case, contact Guinness World Records right away). And you may have gotten unfollowed because one of your followers suddenly realized this. Which, of course, begs the question - if your blog is the Most Boring Blog in Existence, how on earth did you get followers in the first place?

But I think we can safely rule out that your blog is NOT the Most Boring Blog in Existence. So what then?

Okay, if you still suspect your blog may be boring then don't sit around moping. Shake things up a little! Add some new gadgets, or take some away. Start a blog series. Write a post in the meter of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. If you're bored with your blog, your followers might be too.

Numero dos: I'm a terrible blogger/writer/person.

Another one of those things we tell ourselves. And yes, my dear, you're not a perfect person. Nobody is.

Now as for being a terrible blogger/writer - how so? Are you terrible, or just lazy? Or sloppy? Or self-centered? If you think you're a bad writer or blogger, do something about it. Buy a book on writing. Buy several books on writing. Read them. Think about them. Apply them.

If you suspect that a follower left because they're tired of you writing all your posts lyk this then maybee its tiem u rethot ur blogging stile.

Numero tres: The person who unfollowed me hates me/only followed me so I would follow back (which I didn't)/was offended by my opinions.

Your point?

If a person truly hates you, do you seriously want that person following your blog?

If a person only followed you so that they could add you to their own follower count, do you seriously want that person following your blog?

Hmmm? Yeah, thought so.

Okay, next point. The person who unfollowed you may have been offended by your opinions. Let's ask some questions, then.

Do you stand by your opinions?

Did you state them in a way that was respectful? (this question may be arguable, but is a good one to consider anyway)

Do you value your opinions more than another person's approval?

If you answered yes to all three then you have nothing to worry about. It's your blog, and yours alone. If you truly stand by what you said, if you said it in a way that wasn't intentionally inflammatory, and if you truly value your opinions, then who cares if you lost a follower (or followers)?

Let me give you an example. I am a Christian, and I'm not afraid to talk about it on my blog. I don't get too deep into theological posts and questions, but I do talk about it occasionally. Has this lost me followers, or detracted potential followers from clicking the "follow" button? Yes, most likely. And that's not necessarily a good thing, but you know what? It doesn't matter to me. I stand by my convictions. If a person unfollows me because of that, so be it.

Numero quatro: The person who unfollowed me was genuinely uninterested in my blog.

Now we have a reasonable point. The un-follower (new terminology here!) may not be interested in your blog anymore, and THAT'S OKAY.

(Yes, that was important enough to put in all caps.)

I'm sure you've lost interest in a blog before. Maybe you even unfollowed it. Was it entirely the fault of the blogger? No, I'm sure it wasn't. Perhaps you followed them for content you thought you were getting, but they changed direction. Perhaps you followed them way back when you were crazy about one subject - but now the fervor has died down now and you've moved on. There are lots of reasons.

And if you can justify unfollowing a blog to yourself, then you shouldn't blame another blogger for unfollowing you as well.

Note: I understand that some people (I tend to lean this way a little myself) think it's rude to unfollow a blog just because you're uninterested; but different people have different standards for this. Be understanding.

Numero sinco: The un-follower has reached the maximum amount of blogs they can follow, and is cleaning up their blog list.

Did you know that there is a limit to the number of blogs you can follow? That number is 300.

After I found that out, I went and checked the number of blogs I was following. I'm at 100, currently, so I still have a ways to go.

So maybe your un-follower has just found a 301st blog that they absolutely love and absolutely must follow. But - oh dear! They've reached the limit. One blog must go... which one will it be?

And they go to yours, and click "unfollow."

Why did they single out yours? Maybe it was for one of the reasons above. But the point here is that it's basically necessity here that's causing them to unfollow you. Which may or may not make you feel better, but there you go.

We'd like to think that following is like a commitment, a promise made by a person to regularly read and follow your blog.  But the truth is that unless a follower is actively involved with your content, they're just a number. That's it. And numbers are great, but what you really want is dedicated readers. People who enjoy your content, who read it consistently, and who comment.

So if a person unfollowed you for whatever reason, then they are not your dedicated follower. They're not the kind of follower you want. Not to sound insensitive, but good riddance!

Think of it as sorting out the sheep from the goats. Now we shall see who all my true followers are....

Bio: Lauren is a college student, an aspiring author, and an enthusiastic (sometimes) blogger who writes about writing, movies, books, and other fun stuff over at Word Art: Painting with Words.

I'm sure you have stories about losing followers. Let's hear them (it could be therapeutic)! Have you ever unfollowed a blog? What were your reasons? How close are you to the 300 blog limit (or do you use something other than GFC to keep up with blogs)? What are your opinions on unfollowing in general?

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  1. I didn't know there was a cap on the amount of blogs you can follow. Of course, there are other ways to follow blogs, but it seems odd it's capped at 300 unless it's a server thing.

    My first thought when I "lose" a follower is that they've deleted their account. I instantly feel better =P

  2. This is honestly so true, sometimes I get disheartened when I lose followers because I feel like it's a reflection on me but while it is sometimes it's unavoidable. I feel even worse when I lose followers on Twitter but at least I can excuse it because I tweet a whole lot and some people must get annoyed at having their timeline filled up so much.

    Great post anyway, you make a lot of valid points for a topic that can bring a lot of stress and bother, I seriously hope that my blog isn't considered boring, that's something that I'm going to have to review now haha.

  3. I've only lost two followers. It feels like a pinch. I don't have 'that' many followers so each and every one are precious to me.

  4. Wow! no idea there was a limit! I'm close to it, but I also follow blogs via RSS and email, so hopefully those don't count in the limit. I generally skulk about and read several posts from a blog before I actually follow, so I generally don't find the need to unfollow anyone down the road.

  5. Yes, it's true, I love knowing that people are reading what I write... but I remember being thrilled when realized that people would even be interested in what I had to say. I know that a lot of people who read my posts never leave a comment, or sign up to follow. I suppose I would keep writing, even if only one person read it. I must write and express myself. It has become necessary. Those were very apt reasons you expressed for people "unfollowing" a blog. Thanks. Best regards, Ruby

  6. Excellent reasons why someone might unfollow you, and in truth, I think if any of them happened to me, I'm be okay with it.

    Different strokes for different folks, you know.

  7. Those are all good reasons!
    I like what you said for reason number three.
    However, you can follow a lot more than three hundred through Google Reader. Only through the dashboard is it limited. And once you start using Google Reader, you'll find all of those blogs show up in your dashboard as well, even when it goes over three hundred. (I follow as many as follow me, which is 1600.)

  8. Lauren, you make some good points here and thank you for an excellent post.

    I'm still not totally clear on that 300 cap on blogs one can follow. I researched it after I read what you had written here and found the same information though. I like Alex's explanation. I know I follow probably at least 1600 like him, but since I haven't started using the Google Reader yet I can't confirm how it all works.

    In any case, thanks for the informative hijack and pleasant read. And thanks to all who have commented already.

    Having a wonderful time in Houston!


  9. At this point in my blogging tenure, I'm not too worried about it. Trying to keep up with other blogs is can be stressful in itself. So I can understand and don't boo-hoo over it.

    Great Post!

  10. Great points - I clean up my blog list all the time depending on how big the backlog becomes. I feel bad doing it, but I know that it's a common thing so it helps subside the guilt a little.

  11. I'm still new to the blogging world (well, new for personally blogging--I've been reading and contributing for years), and I still get excited when the blog gains a new follower. I've not noticed that I've lost any--yet--though, just as in Twitter, I'm sure it's inevitable.

    I like what you say in #3, about standing by your convictions and if someone doesn't agree, so be it. I also blog about my faith sometimes, and I also blog my opinions about current events. I'm innately a people-pleaser, so I always do so with some trepidation b/c I don't want people to "hate" me. But I'm going to take your advice to heart. If someone unfollows me or if they choose not to follow b/c they can't stand my opinions, so be it. I'm going to try to carry that attitude over to Twitter, though it feels a little more personal on Twitter.

    Thank you for this post! Now off to read Lee's about gaining followers, b/c I missed it somehow. :)


  12. Very interesting post and, yes, it did make me feel better :) Not sure if I've had anyone actually hit the unfollow button (I'm sure they have!) but I do know that people who were dedicated readers a few years ago never stop by any more. And I'm ok with that! People change and move on. They also get busy or have life get in the way. And life is way more important than a blog post!

    Thanks for this!

  13. I've never followed a blog unless something about it impressed me-- and I dunno really if I have been unfollowed. Never kept count. I feel people should follow when they want and unfollow if they like-- and if they want to unfollow my blog, I don't need to feel bad about it.

  14. It used to really bother me when I would get unfollowed, I kind of took it persoannly...dumb right? I don't even look at the numbers anymore.
    Blessings, Joanne

  15. 1600 blogs, Alexo! WOWZA!

    I keep the blogs I follow trimmed to between 50 and 75. I like to cement relationships but I know Al does, too, so once again, WOWZA!

    That said, I always return a comment.

    One way people can avoid hurting the feelers of other bloggers is to follow anonymously and see if it's a bloglationship that's gonna persist over the long haul.

    Everyone is just so different, though. You can't take 'unfollows' personally unless you had a major falling out with the blogger which, does that ever even happen? :)

  16. I hit the cap for blog follows when I had the blog roll widget on my blog. But, like Alex said, I follow a lot more through Google Reader now.

    Great points. There's no need to stress about losing followers. I've never tried to unfollow someone - don't have a clue how I would go about it! :)

  17. What? You mean me is not perfect? /criesintheshadows/
    I only unfollow people when they are impolite enough to never return the following, and in that case they lose a very faithful commentator and visitor in me :)

  18. Great post. I too had no idea about this cap. I also don't pay attention to when I lose a follower - are you notified? Because I never check over who is following me. I just never do.

    I have a question that perhaps you can answer. I've heard both ways about gaining followers: blogging every day, blogging 2-3 times a week. There are times, like after you've come off a new release blog hop where I feel "written out" and don't post on mine for a week.

    Is this a no-no? I find that in May (after the A-Z) I'm kind of burned out and might only do once a week. Yet I have all these new friends and I wonder if I am shooting myself in the foot.

    For me, I feel bad I don't have the time to follow everyone I want to. There just aren't enough hours in the day. So I kind of hop around and pick and choose. Certain ones I try to make daily now, like this one, because of the eclectic mix of people from all genres.

    Arlee, some time you should talk about shared or group blogs. I've been on some great ones, and some that fizzled. Wondering what others think.

    Great post. Thanks for "Tossing It Out" and hijacking today!

  19. Sharon-- I think especially after something like a blog hop or some event that has drawn new readers to your blog, you should be consistent in posts and not fizzle out. This is when you've got readers' attention and what to keep it as much as you can.

    Even when I'm on vacation or some period of lull I try to keep something on my site even if it is short or just a video just to have the activity. I try to keep it interesting without too much involvement on my behalf. I'm loving this "Hijack!" concept because it keeps my blog vitalized with new voices and surprises.

    A tip to help in those tired times is to keep some posts in reserve that you can pull up to fill the spaces when inspiration is lacking.

    I'll add the topic of shared blogs to my list of future posting ideas.
    Good one.


  20. Great posting I recently hit 300, but when I went looking found some people who had multiple blogs and I was subscribed to all of them. So going through and trying to limit one blog only. Agree not sure why there is a limit.

  21. You made me laugh with this.

    I've only unfollowed one person and that was because their blog had been highjacked. But then, I don't follow every blog I read, either. I don't always do a tit for tat either.

    I may not get to everyone I follow with every post they put up (nor do I expect them to get to me), but I usually follow them because of the content. Some articles, just as on my blog, are more interesting than others.

    I do try to get to those I follow at least weekly. It's all a time management thing done while juggling life. Summer is always a thin time with comments and such because it's the season for adventures outdoors, projects, vacations.


  22. Sia--

    I hope you don't unfollow Tossing It Out because my blog has been "hijacked". I've been hijacked in a good way.

    I know what you're saying about not being able to get around to everyone's blogs on a regular basis. I wish I had that kind of time, but I've got to be realistic.


  23. What a great post! I didn't know that there was a limit.

    My follower story is this: When I first started out blogging, I didn't know about interacting with other bloggers.

    After a year and a half, I was "discovered" by a person new to me, and she introduced me to her group. I found out how fun the interaction with others was. I went gung-ho and began joining up with linky parties with others who liked the same things I did. I was following people right and left, and they were following me.

    Then, one day, 20 of them unfollowed me, all at once! I was crushed. I was only posting pictures of vintage things and tablescapes and stuff like that, so I really don't think I had done anything to offend that many people. I think that they were just being the mean girls in high school.

    I went back and unfollowed each of them (took 20 off my cap right then and there, but just because I was hurt, not because I was close to the limit).

    Then, I went on strike. I removed my follower widget for a year. Some people who really did like my blog found a way to follow me from the button on the top of my page, and I felt like since they went out of their way then they must really like my blog. Thank you to them!

    When I signed up for my first A-Z, I decided to put the followers widget back on my page. Two years of A-Z has given me a huge boost in followers, but still after nearly 5 years of blogging I have only 142 followers, lol. Oh well!

    Kathy M.

  24. A motivational post - thanks Lauren.

    Re - group blogs; I don't like them as much; too many voices in the mix. It will be interesting to see what you say about them, Lee.

    Visiting a group blog can make a reader feel like they are interrupting a private party. The A to Z blog is one exception to this. I'm not saying all group blogs tend to be that way, but many are.

    For professionals (journalists, etc) I see the need, but I'm still not a fan of group blogs. Give me an individual's blog, because in a group, no one stands out...

  25. I appreciated your post so much. Keeping track of the number is something I don't do--it isn't as important as checking the blogs of the people I enjoy.

  26. In the words of Ricky Nelson: You can't please everyone... so you've got to please yourself.
    I believe most people who blog do so because they have something that they must say and the blogging is a sort of therapeutic way of getting their message out. If ones message doesn't 'jibe' with someone who reads it over time then it's no different than when IRL you have a friend who may end up moving in another life direction.
    We don't all fit each other forever. People come into our lives for different reasons and stay for different amounts of time.

  27. great post, Lauren! Certainly makes me feel a bit better. Thanks for having her Arlee:)

  28. This blog land is filled with tons of people with a variety of backgrounds and opinions my guess is people are bound to clash on that account and un-following would result. To bad we can't disagree with respect!

    I think after I reached about 50 followers (and I haven't been blogging long) I stopped worrying about how many followers I had. I rather like the small and intimate relationship vibe I have going on with my followers, I know them and they know's kinda nice!

    Enjoyed your take on this Lauren..Thanks Lee.

  29. Good post! Thanks Lee, for allowing Lauren to hijack your blog. :) And thanks, Lauren, for your info and insight.

    I've been thinking about this, for I've lost a few followers in recent weeks. I strongly suspect that number 3 is the reason. I like to reciprocate if I can, but if I cannot embrace the blog's message, I won't follow it. I also run into problems with blogs written in other languages. Sometimes even with the translation feature, they still don't make sense, so I won't follow then either.

  30. I personally have never "unfollowed" anyone (just because I don't want to be rude, even in the impersonal blogosphere ~ good Southern girl) ~ for myself, yes, it is like a little "pinch" as Em said; even though at the number I have now ~ not huge, but more than I could verify just by looking, I can only tell when I've lost someone if the number goes down...and then I wonder who, and why. I guess I shouldn't.

  31. This is really interesting and very encouraging! I've only lost one follower, but I don't have a ton so I noticed right away. Then, of course, I've been growing fairly steadily anyway.

    I didn't take it too personally. It's wonderful to know that people are reading, but I KNOW I'm not everyone's cup of tea. And that's totally okay. :)

    Stopped over after reading your comment on my blog, Lee--it's awesome to find a Christian writer and blogger who is also a man! You're a rare breed. :) Thanks for visiting--and I will be back; I'm your newest follower! :)

  32. We are definitely too hard on ourselves, aren't we? Why do we always leap to, "It's my fault?" Thanks for the numeros. They were helpful in setting things into perspective.

  33. This was just what I needed to hear today. I'm a control freak with a dash of paranoia. Just about every word you wrote about what people think when un-followed have gone through my mind. I think part of my problem, too, is that with being a mathematician, I'm SO numbers oriented and tend to measure everything. I count my ice when I put it in my glass. I keep track of how many minutes I've spent cleaning. I have a pedometer, and and an odometer on my bike. I just need to stop using my follower number as a self-esteem builder/breaker. Hard to do when you have self -esteem issues from other sources...which is a topic for another day, and a post at my place and not a comment here. Just mentioning it so that others might understand where I'm coming from.
    Great hi-jack, Lauren!
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Post A-Z Road trip!

  34. I didn;t know about caps on followers. I do think I should go through my lost and unfollow those blogs that are no longer up and running.

  35. I only have a few followers but I like this it means I can respond to every comment made and try and give a personal response. I write my blog for me it is my diary my quirky outlook on my day.

    Luckily I have never lost a follower but then on the other hand I gain very few but as I said it suits me just hunky dory.... Oooo and I do write a very boring blog that is incredibly badly written about stuff no one wants to read about.....

  36. The only follower I lost that bothered me was when I wrote my 1000th post and as part of that post I stated how my followers I had just for a record of numbers at that point- only to check the next day when it published to be down one! Felt kind of silly.

  37. I unfollowed only one person whose blog took FOR.EV.ER. to open. Then a couple bloggers went to some new system that required me to re-follow but I didn't. I guess that's unfollowing by omission. Some of my followers are inactive but have not unsubscribed. Does that count?

  38. I don't worry about how many followers I have since I do not blog for followers I blog for me and yes my blog may be a bit boring but hell if you think my blog is boring don't read it or if you think I ramble on a bit to much in my posts also not my problem this is me I ramble hell my blog is called Jo-Anne's that should tell you that I have a tendency to ramble. I also ramble in my comments as if you can't tell

  39. You're so right. I don't want to hang on to a follower who hates me/finds my blog boring/isn't on my wave length but then again, I've never unfollowed anyone so, unless they've reached this 300 mark that I only just heard about then where's the harm in keeping my numbers up. I gained a new follower this morning and it really put a smile on my face. (sad but true)

  40. I haven't unfollowed a blog in years. I used to go through my list and unfollow those who weren't following me or who hadn't posted in a year.

    Sometimes Blogger throws me off a blog. I've had to refollow people I never unfollowed. People have also told me they had to refollow mine.

    Sometimes I see my number of followers one or two less. I try not to take it personally.

  41. I pruned my list at the weekend. How can anyone follow 300 blogs? My list is down to a dozen and I might, just might, add another ten. More than that I can't cope with and still do my real writing. Perhaps that's why I only have 45 followers!

  42. Well, I'm a little late to the party here, but my excuse is tthat I'm on vacation with only *gasp* my iPhone to connect me to the Internet. :)

    I've been enjoying reading all your comments. To answer the question that some of you have had about the 300 follower limit, I believe Alex's answer is correct. Through the dashboard (and Google Friend Connect) you can only follow 300 blogs. I don't think Google Reader has a limit, and neither does RSS feeds or email subscriptions. To answer Gossip Grl's question above, the reason there is a limit is to prevent bloggers from having their follower icon displayed on more than 300 blogs.

    I'm still not sure entirely how that all works, but I do know it's a valid reason for someone to unfollow you (painful as that reason may be).

    I also appreciate what some of you have been saying about interaction with your followers. If a blogger is kind of high up on a pedestal and unapproachable, never responds to comments (kind of like me right now... lol) that might be a reason someone unfollows them.

    And I'm also interested in reading a post about shared blogs, Lee, so please do write one!

  43. Great post! I'm better at dealing with un-followers now, but when I first started, I took it personal and felt something close to betrayal. It's just a number and good riddance, excellent advice!

  44. Hey somebody wants to unfollow my blog, that's perfectly fine with me.
    I'm very happy with the positive interaction I share with those who are truly embracing the ethos of a sharing, caring blogging community.
    And the word "follower", I've got a real problem with that word. I wish we could find a different word. I have blogger friends. We stand side by side.
    And don't get me started on the 'drive by bloggers' who are only interesting in increasing their rather superficial 'followers' total. I know bloggers with well over a thousand 'followers' and few comments. That tells me something. I have very few linked into my site, based on how long I've been blogging and how proactive I am. Yet despite that, I'm blessed with lots of comments from those who understand that this can be a supportive, encouraging community for the good of the world.
    And with that, dear Lauren and Lee, I'm outta' here.
    In kindness and happy blogging, your way, Gary

  45. I've un-followed a few people. The first two I found offensive. The other two just didn't have anything to offer me. It was not personal. They were great writers, and very entertaining, but I tend to follow humor bloggers.

  46. You handled a touchy topic in such a realistic, practical fashion. Thanks for sharing your list of reasons because it caused me to stop and think about why people un-follow me and why I've chosen to un-follow a few.
    Sometimes it takes following someone for a couple of months before you realize their blog isn't that interesting to you (that doesn't mean thousands of others don't love it, though). I've also stopped following because I've found content to be negative, depressing or offensive.
    To each, his own...

  47. Hum. I don't really take it too personally. I mean, half the time I forget to "follow" - I tend to just past URLs into my feed reader, so I don't actually show up on official follower lists half the time. I'm trying to make an effort to remember to do this, since it seems to mean so much to a lot of people.

    Personally, I'm more interested in interaction. I like having conversations in the comments, or just people responding to my posts at all. (Some friends prefer to respond via Facebook, which removes them from the public conversation.)

    I have removed people from my reader list for various reasons, including their posts being offensive or poorly-written. I have removed blogs for posting too much and not interacting with readers in any way. And every once in a while I remove blogs that haven't been updated in a very long time.

  48. Wow, didn't know about the cap. Super food for thought in this post, Lauren. I need to organize myself with my follows.

  49. I'm late to the party but just found the link to this on Lauren's blog.

    Great, practical, personable way of laying out your points, Lauren!

    I have to say that I don't mind when people unfollow me. I do the same, when a blog or site is no longer interesting or I'm having trouble keeping up with multiple sites. I think it shouldn't be such a big deal either way. Just as in real life, if someone doesn't want to be someone else's friend, they shouldn't feel compelled to out of "courtesy." What kind of friendship is that? It might sting to realize that someone doesn't want to know you better but that's their prerogative.


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