Thursday, August 13, 2015

Discussion: Following Back—Why I Do It (And Occasionally Wish I Didn’t)

I’m linking back to Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight. They host the 2015 Discussion Challenge.


Following Back—Why I Do It (And Occasionally Wish I Didn’t)



A few weeks ago, I came across a post on another blog that called the decision to follow back “controversial.” I didn’t know there was a controversy. I just thought that everybody followed whatever blogs they wanted, but the “controversial” comment did make me think about why I follow back.

If you’re not familiar with “follow for follow,” it means that I follow back any book blogger* who follows me on social media. I don’t remember making a conscious decision to do this. When Read All The Things! started getting followers, I followed them back because it seemed like a courteous thing to do. I’ve been doing follow for follow for quite a while now, and it definitely has perks and drawbacks.

The biggest perk of following back is finding a huge variety of book blogs. I’ve noticed that most blogs tend to specialize in certain types of books. Some bloggers only review fiction, or young adult, or horror, or graphic novels. I read all of those genres, plus a ton more. To get the verity of book recommendations that I want, I need to follow a lot of blogs. Follow for follow has helped me find some amazing books that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Another perk is the ability to help out new bloggers. Read All The Things! isn’t my first blog. It’s actually the fifth blog I’ve worked on, so I know that starting a blog is a lonely experience. You’re passionate about your subject, and you want to make connections with people, but publishing posts is like shouting into a void. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like anybody is listening (except for those robots that spam your comments, but they don’t count). Following back is a way to discover brand-new bloggers and let them know that I’m willing to give their content a try.

There are some big drawbacks to follow for follow. You guys should see my social media feeds. OMG, they are a hot mess. I do have a “favorites” folder on Bloglovin’, but the rest of my feed is crazy because I don’t have time to organize it. There are a lot of blogs in my feed that I don’t visit very often, but I don’t want to unfollow them because I promised to follow for follow, and I know that they’re following me. If my blog had 1000+ followers, I think I’d have to stop following back. It would just get too insane (unless I could be a lot more organized).

I also wonder what people think when they see that I follow for follow. Do they think that my blog’s content is so crappy that I can’t get followers unless I promise to follow back? I hope not. I prefer to believe that my content is immensely fascinating to everybody.

Right now, following back works well enough for me, but who knows what will happen in the future. I may get so overwhelmed that I’ll have to reevaluate my decision.


*My blog is followed by a lot of people who aren’t book bloggers. I don’t follow those people back because I’m usually not interested in the stuff they post on social media. I only follow people whose content I want to read.




What do you think about following back? Do you do it? If not, do you have any strong opinions about people who do? How do you stay organized on social media sites like Bloglovin’?


32 comments:

  1. I always follow back as well. Different standards for different medias though. Bloglovin' - I follow every book blog I can find because I don't want to miss out on any great books. I make a point of checking Bloglovin' at least once a day, and I know posts still slip through. Twitter - If you follow me, I will follow you back. I do reserve the right to unfollow. My twitter account is my personal/blog account - perhaps I should make a separate for personal, but still, the feed gets overwhelming, as you mentioned and people can get preachy and that's a thumbs down for me. Instagram - Again, personal and blog account in one. And Instagram is my favorite or the social media sites, so I'm real selective of who I follow. Most times though, if someone follows me, they have an interest in books and cats - the two main things I Instagram, lol - and that's usually what they post, and I'm interested in that. For obvious reasons, I don't follow spam accounts. This was a great discussion post!

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    1. I also have a combined personal/blog account on Twitter. I thought about separating them, but there aren’t many people in my real life who use Twitter, so I haven’t done it yet.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I quickly can overwhelm myself with following. My Blogloving feed is ridiculous. I let go of Twitter about a year ago, and Facebook irritates me with all its drama. I LOVE Instagram which is not surprising since I'm such a visual person. However, I do follow/unfollow from time to time just to try and keep things manageable. I teach college students and don't always want them privy to everything I write...whether on social media or on my blog. I removed my blog URL from Facebook bc of that very reason.

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    1. I’m hoping to become a college professor after I finish my M.F.A., so I’m trying to be careful about what I post on social media. I have a personal Facebook page, but my blog doesn’t currently have one because there is a lot of drama on Facebook. Many conversations descend into bickering, and I don’t want to deal with it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. I follow back on Bloglovin'. I mostly follow back on Twitter. Instagram I am pickier about. I don't think it should say anything about a blog if they follow back though. My bloglovin feed is nuts though. I just started a favorites folder to help out!

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    1. My Bloglovin’ favorites folder has been a huge help. I can actually find the stuff I’m looking for without having to scroll forever.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. I mostly follow back on bloglovin unless the blog subject really puts me off, and on twitter unless it's an obvious spam account. I have discovered loads of new book blogs, artists and travellers that way so will keep doing so. Occasionally I will quietly unfollow someone later though!
    Facebook is just too melodramatic and I am still trying to figure out Pinterest. (Advice gratefully received!)

    Stephanie Jane

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    1. I wish I could help you out with Pinterest. My mom is obsessed with it, but I haven’t found it to be very useful in my life. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. I think that like most other things when it comes to blogging, each blogger has to do what she feels is right for her and her own blog! I follow many, many blogs as well, and sometimes, it takes forever to get through my feed, but at the same time, I know there was a reason why I started following those blogs.
    I don't always follow back anymore, I tend to visit a blog several times now before I decide, but I'm easily swayed, as I love to have many people to discuss various books with!
    I think what's controversial is maybe that not everybody does want to follow back - and so for them it's not a good thing?
    Have a great afternoon AJ :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Exactly! Following back works well for me right now, but I wouldn’t judge anyone for not following back.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. This is a really interesting discussion. I haven't really thought much about follows or follow backs lately. When I first started blogging and I was building an audience that was definitely a huge deal. I made it a point to follow back people who followed me and I appreciated them doing the same. Now that I feel like I have built that I don't really think much about it. What I do think about is how I follow a lot of blogs that I almost never read. There are a few that I check regularly and other than that I'll just skim what they've posted and only read them if they look interesting. So I can see how having a lot of follows or following a lot of blogs can be challenging.

    The one thing that I do try to do is comment back. That's the real reason I started blogging. It's not to get a bunch of people to read my word vomit about the books, it's to start a conversation with like-minded people about something I love. I think that's why I love Twitter and do actually try to follow back all bloggers there because that is where most of the conversation is happening.

    Really thought-provoking. Great discussion!
    Cassi @ My Thought Literally

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    1. My Bloglovin’ feed is totally cluttered with blogs that I rarely read, but I don’t want to unfollow them. I’m considering making a folder for “Rarely Read Blogs” so that I don’t have to scroll through hundreds of them when I’m searching for something.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. I've always followed back too! I've never thought about what other people might think about it... I also don't advertise it anywhere. It's just something I do, like you said, because it's courteous. I won't follow back a new follower who I have nothing in common with because I don't want random photos of women in bikinis on my feed (this has happened so many times).

    My Bloglovin is out of control though! I have no idea who is who over there and I wouldn't even know how to begin putting it in order. That's definitely something I need to work on sometime soon.

    The one thing that really irritates me, though, is getting spam from other people who want me to follow them. This is especially rampant on Instagram! I am constantly getting comments on my photos that say "F4F?" or "Spam for Spam?" I just want to scream at them!! "NO! I will not follow for follow!!" And it's just annoying! Because seriously, if they'd just followed my account, I would definitely have followed back. But once you get spammy I'm just going to delete your comment and move on.

    Something else that I think is worth discussing is whether you unfollow your unfollowers. You know, the ones who follow specifically to get a follow back and then immediately unfollow you? Is there no integrity in the world? -_-

    Really though, great discussion!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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    1. I’ve only unfollowed one unfollower. It happened when I first started Twitter. I only had 7 or 8 followers. A guy followed me, so I followed him back, then he unfollowed me a few hours later. I was like, “Um . . . okay . . . ? I’ll unfollow you, too.”

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  8. To be honest, I do have qualms when I see blogs that have "follow for follow" not because I think they produce bad quality content but rather I feel like these blogs aren't confident about their blog and advertise for the numbers instead of the sincere interactions. However, I see that your blog is not that case at all. To each his own, of course. Also there is some negativity for f4f just because I've noticed some internet users (not bloggers per se) have promised other accounts and mutual follow but then they unfollow them after a period of time, which isn't a big deal but it's still a shady promise of friendship in my opinion.

    However, I do understand what you mean by it seems like courtesy to follow other book bloggers. My mind does battle with this sometimes, but I only follow blogs if they genuinely are wonderful and produce unique, quality content. And a blog I know will stay committed and continue to post. It's even better if these bloggers interact with me through my blog or reply to my comments on their's.

    As for my followers, I used to check, comment, and thank each blog but now that I've reached a number that makes it hard to keep up and do that, I only visit blogs that leave thoughtful comments on my blog. I do strictly keep to my "Bloggers Commenting Back" pledge. So I've stopped feeling bad about not following blogs that followed me ever since I started participated in that.

    Anyway, great post, AJ! And thank you for visiting my blog.

    Summer at Xingsings

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    1. I try so hard with the “Bloggers Commenting Back” thing. Sometimes it takes me a week or two, but I’m usually able to comment back.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. I keep going back and forth on this situation too - because I so agree that my feeds are a hot mess! I have just started doing notifications on the ones I really want to read!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. I like following back, but I also like using my social media feeds. The clutter makes it really difficult to do both.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  10. I... don't really follow for follow. I mean, sometimes I do - and I always try to comment for comment - but as a general rule I follow exactly who I want to follow. I don't really think there is a right or wrong way to do it, either. This is a really interesting discussion though, on a topic that I've never really given much thought!
    Beth x
    www.thequietpeople.com

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    1. I might have to do that too someday. Instead of following everybody, I’ll only follow the blogs that I really, really want to read.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  11. Just read this cause I'm signed up for your email updates. I don't always follow for follow. But I ALWAYS at least make a visit to the blog that has left a comment on my blog. I tend to follow smaller blogs to help boost their numbers but admit that if I see a blog has over 1000 followers I'm not always as quick to follow. I follow blogs who interested me. Since like you I read and review a wide variety of books there are a lot of blogs I follow. But like I said while I may not follow every single blog I always at least visit once. That helps boost their monthly hits. I don't expect everyone to follow me. I'd rather people follow me because they want to not because they feel an obligation to.

    Melissa @ www.mommywantsroread.blogspot.com

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    1. That’s interesting about the 1000 followers thing. When I come across a blog on Bloglovin’ that has a ton of followers, I always click on it to find out why so many people seem to like it. I don’t always follow it, though.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  12. This is a tough one, because I have mixed feelings about it too. When I first started blogging, I absolutely followed every single person (or hell, maybe spambot!) who followed me, just because I wanted to make connections, read more blogs, etc. Now... things are harder, and I realized a few things: First, I don't always have a lot in common with a blogger, which is why I might not follow back. For example, if we read zero percent of the same books, why would I follow? It doesn't even make sense. I did this for so long, and then my feeds got really overwhelmed with posts that I just didn't care about, so I have been more picky. Plus, I don't even always realize when someone HAS followed me these days. Bloglovin never alerts me (I don't know why even, I never changed my settings!), and Twitter is so hard to keep track of on a good day, sometimes followers fall through the cracks unfortunately.

    That said, if I DO have similar interests to a blogger, and we chat a couple times, I generally do follow back. And if I build a rapport with someone I follow them regardless of interest. At this point, I kind of do it on a case-by-case basis. OH- and I rarely, if ever, UNfollow, it just seems WAY too mean. You'd have to seriously offend me or piss me off to get unfollowed ;)

    LOVE this post, it's such an amazing discussion!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. I also rarely unfollow because it does seem mean. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t always get notifications on Bloglovin’. A while ago, I accidently clicked on my blog analytics and saw that I had more followers than I thought I did. I don’t remember getting notifications about those followers. Or, maybe the number on the blog analytics is wrong. I have no idea.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  13. Since blogging can feel like you're talking to yourself and because I enjoy getting to know other bloggers, I generally follow back both on Bloglovin, Twitter and Instagram. Even if I chat with a blogger once or twice, and no real connection is made, I still feel like it fosters good community.

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    1. That’s exactly why I follow back. When you first start blogging, it does feel like you’re talking to yourself.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  14. I used to participate in the Feature & Follow meme, which states in the rules that if someone follows you that you should follow back. The problem was that I would follow a ton of people and maybe only get a couple of followers out of it. Obviously, not many people were sticking to the rules. So, I quit participating in the meme.

    Now, I really don't pay a lot of attention to who follows, because a lot of times (especially on Twitter) they are just authors who are hoping to get a review. However, if someone leaves a comment on my blog, I do take the time to check out their blog if they leave a link.

    I don't get notifications from any of the social media to tell me that I have a new follower; I guess that's something that I need to look into. So, unless I go on there and see that there's a new follower, I'm not likely to even notice.

    Lately, I have been subscribing by email to more blogs, because I know I will get on there and see their posts. I don't get on Facebook, Bloglovin. or Twitter very often.

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    1. I’ve noticed the same thing about the Feature & Follow meme. I participate whenever the weekly question is book-related. The meme is great for helping me find new blogs to follow, but I don’t get many follows in return.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  15. I am a big proponent of following back, but I agree that it has made my feeds a nightmare - I just wrote a post about this the other day - well, about how I am trying to organize my Bloglovin' account.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I just went and checked out your post. I’m also in the process of organizing my Bloglovin’ account.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  16. I used to follow everyone back all the time, but now I don't do that anymore. Yes, I do follow most of my people back and I do try to reach as many as I can. I like seeing a variety in my blogs as well and I also really like being able to reach out and connect with everyone. It seems polite. But sometimes people really do blog about things I am not interested in reading. And yes, I do appreciate that they blog about those certain kind of books but it just isn't my cup of tea. So I appreciate it, but don't always follow back.

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    1. That’s one of the problems I’m having with following back every book blogger. Some people only blog about certain genres, and if I’m not interested in those genres, I never look at their blog. It feels weird to follow something that I never look at.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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