50 Followers!

I have a confession to make.

The more observant of you may have noticed the little counter in the top right, which used to brag about my 344 blog followers, has suddenly changed its tune. Now it implores you join a tight-knit community of a mere 50 followers. How did the figure drop so suddenly? Well the truth is, the lower number has always been far more accurate.

You see, WordPress has a feature called Publicize, which automatically adds new posts to your Facebook wall and Twitter feed. That sounded pretty good to me so I enabled it – not realising that every one of my Twitter followers and Facebook friends would suddenly be counted as followers of my little ol’ blog.

I had increased my readership by ten-fold instantly.

followers344 001

Of course, it was all a lie. For one thing, I can tell from my blog stats that no one has ever checked out my blog after reading one of my tweets … so Twitter followers are not blog followers.

But that only eliminates 18 people, so perhaps we can count that as a tiny white lie.

However, being a modern man of this computer age, I do have quite a few Facebook friends. A handful of them are the biggest supporters I’ll ever have (which I’m grateful for) but it’d be fair to say that the vast majority couldn’t give two shiitake mushrooms about my blog.

“Hey, he stole our not-quite-dirty joke!”

Like many of you out there, I have people on my friends list that I haven’t conversed with in six years, except for a quick ‘hello’ message when I first added them. How many of those acquaintances are eagerly awaiting the next instalment of my inane writings? I’m going to guess at a big, fat zero.

So yeah, Facebook friends are not blog followers.

Also – with Publicize on – WordPress counts readers as followers just for asking to be notified of new comments on a single post. While it’s great that a post of mine can incite such sparkling and witty conversation that people don’t want to miss a moment of it – it should be obvious that followers of a single post are not blog followers.

And that’s how we arrived back at the magical 50. In all honesty, the true number should be a bit lower because of the few “spam” followers I have, but that all gets a bit difficult to quantify so let’s put that one in the “too hard” basket.

So why did I leave the 300+ figure up for so long, knowing it was dishonest?

Firstly, I’d hoped it would attract more people. After all, no one wants to jump on an empty bandwagon. It’s only when you see a bandwagon overflowing with people – preferably so crowded that some are falling off and being crushed under the hooves of passing horses – that you think “there must be something really special about that bandwagon”. That’s when you run after it, carefully avoiding the hoof-crushed bodies in your path.

“Thanks for freeing up a spot, sucker!”

Jeff Heimsath Photography

The second reason was simple jealousy. Previously I’d come across some truly awful blogs that had only been going for a couple of weeks yet had hundreds of followers – which was disheartening because I’d been at it for a year and had a readership barely in the double digits. So when my own stats suddenly increased and I realised the likely explanation for the other bloggers’ instant “popularity”, I thought “well if they’re going to do it, I may as well do it too”. I’d decided that the blogging world was full of dishonesty, so there was no problem in dabbling in it myself.

Which you may recognise as the same logic used by every awful person ever.

But today I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’ve confessed to the lie and decided to be thankful for what I’ve got. After all, 50 followers isn’t bad. If I apply that to the world of music – it’d be like playing a show every week and being guaranteed 50 somewhat interested people showing up each time – which would make me pretty happy. The Internet may have skewed my perception of what defines creative success, but I have to remember I’m dealing with real people (or spambots). Making a genuine connection with a handful of people should be motivation enough. In other words, just because a 15 year-old kid in a Glasgow basement can blatantly steal a badly photo-shopped picture of David Hasselhoff riding a kitten, put it on his Tumblr and get a million views – doesn’t mean that should be my baseline for what justifies the effort of typing stuff on the internets.

So, to my followers out there – thankyou, thankyou and thankyou again! As we approach the third year of this blog, I hope to keep bringing you things to read that don’t make you sigh in boredom or punch the monitor in disgust.

If that sounds like a good plan, I’ll see you next time!

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17 Responses to 50 Followers!

  1. This post was humorous. I liked it. 🙂

  2. Very very funny. Great animations, sincere rant, well-written, clever and fun. Thank you and I am glad to be number 51.

  3. Ok, I’m following you now, but also subsiding into a mood of pitiful grief and disillusion as I realise most of my followers are figments of my imagination, and that no one reads my Blog apart from the mother in law and a couple of parrots

  4. I’m proud to be one of the 50! The series of party drawings had me cracking up!

    Just for laffs, I like to read through my list of 200 or so “followers” and see how many of them I can actually recognize. About 10% are spam sites (just had another one latch on last night) and 75% are bloggers that stopped by for one brief moment in time and have never been seen or heard from again. Now that I’ve seen your explanation for why there are so many inflated following numbers out there, I will no longer feel so inadequate when I stumble upon one of those newish and boringish blogs that have a four-digit following….

  5. I’m part of the 50 😉 (well it’s 55 now, congrats!)

    Thanks for explaining how that works. I had enabled that tweet & facebook post feature for a short time awhile back and noticed the subscriber numbers jump but didn’t put the two and two together. I disabled it shortly thereafter.

  6. Wow, I think this is the most discussion a post of mine has ever generated. Thanks everyone 🙂

    Just a note that, even though most of what I wrote sounds pretty cynical, please take that cynicism with a pinch of salt. I’m certainly not trying to “have a go” at other bloggers; whether you have lots of followers or not, whether you use Publicize , whether you actively look for followers etc. It’s all good.

    My main message is to not focus on the numbers too much and succumb to blog jealousy. Just being able to put our stuff out there and have a few people on the other side of the world read it instantly is pretty amazing 🙂

    • PS. The thankyou extends to everyone who visits my little corner of the web. As nice as it is to see that follower counter go up, I know that some of my best supporters have little desire to sign up. Maybe they don’t want to fill up their inboxes more, maybe they don’t see the point if they’re not on WordPress and I post things to Facebook all the time anyway etc. Whatever the reason, it’s fine – you guys/gals are cool too!

  7. succesulpe says:

    Of course, is not a lie 🙂 As /timethief/ said… “If you are using Publicize to post to Facebook and/or Twitter and/or linkedin then your followers on those sites have been added into those numbers you see.” That is 🙂

    • Yes, lie is probably too strong a word. There’s a fair bit of exaggeration in my post. But I did feel like it was just a little dishonest. Just my opinion though. If you’re comfortable with it – go for it!

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