Sunday, March 28, 2010
Sunday Salon: Follower Power!
The term "follower" is a loaded word in blogosphere. The question, "How many followers do you have?" Have you ever done a quick check on a Blogger sidebar to see what the Google Friend count is? Or maybe you see a follower count and feel skeptic. "What? This blog has a bajillion followers, and mine only has 500? Clearly, this blogger is cheating somehow." Or the opposite. "This blog only has ten followers, I'm not going to spend much time here as I don't know how much staying power the blogger has yet." Or, "Wow, this amazing blog has hardly anyone commenting! How is that possible?"
Some people get really into follower counts. There are contests or prizes when a blog reaches a certain number of followers. "I'm close to 50/100/300/1,000 followers! Follow me, too, and be entered for a chance to win a free book once I hit the golden number."
But when bloggers are asked, point-blank, do followers matter?, many deny it. Most say they'd rather have a small core of good commenters to spark discussion, not thousands of followers who don't say anything.
So really, where does this disconnect come from? Is it that a blog needs to reach a certain number of followers in order to be taken seriously in the first place? And then after that, the blogger can worry about creating conversation through posts and getting lots of comments? Or is it that everyone does worry about followers but is embarrassed to admit it because it makes them feel shallow? It seems that many bloggers think they should not care about follower count, but many of us really do. Why? I have a theory.
A lot of people are rethinking blogging right now- whether they should stick around or leave, whether it's worth the time and effort. Often, they cite the competitive nature of bloggers as a reason to quit blogging. But... competition amongst bloggers about what, exactly? I hear vague terms about how competitive it's gotten, but what is there to be competitive about?
I don't see book blogging as competitive because I don't think we compete for specific books or followers. It's competitive in our heads, in that we strive to do as well as the next blogger. And what is the easiest way to measure our relative success?
Generally, we think we are writing at a higher level when more people want to read what we have to say. And for people to continue following us when there are so many other blogs out there to read and comment on, we must churn out quality content and truly connect with our readers. So I would venture to say that there isn't really competition in book blogosphere so much as there is a desire to consistently raise the bar and challenge ourselves to be better. And the way we measure ourselves against others is through the follower number. That's my two cents at least. What do you think?
Do you keep track of how many followers you have? Do you notice how many followers other blogs have? What do you do with the information?