Do You Follow for the Sake of Following?


by Deb Ng

It’s no secret I have plenty of followers. It humbles me to know there are so many people interested in what I have to say or that I tell funny little stories about my dog. At least I hope that’s why you follow me, I’d hate to be followed just for the sake of being followed.

Let me explain…

Recently I received several friend requests on Facebook and some follows on Twitter that have me scratching my head. For instance, the person who told me I was a fake and a phony two years ago, and the person who last year told me I was a horrible advice giver and the people who subscribe to this blog “sheep.”

Why would they want to follow me? I mean, if they don’t agree with me or what I do, why the follow? Am I being followed just for the sake of racking up friends and followers, or do these folks really want to reach out and enjoy my company – just as I would theirs??

When you follow someone on Twitter or friend someone on FaceBook, do you give good thought to the reasons behind the follow or is it just to have some cool names on your list?



  1. says

    I think about who I friend/follow. The people on my list on Twitter are either friends (RL or from another site where we’ve interacted quite a bit) or people I’ve determined (from their profile and landing page) that a connection could be mutually beneficial. There are some cases when I follow because I think they have great info to give whether or not they follow back.


  2. Aaron says

    I follow friends who I know and other people who I think have something to say – interesting and funny things. I like to network, but it doesn’t mean I should go and follow every single tweeter.

  3. says

    I follow the people I feel I can learn from. It doesn’t matter to me if a person doesn’t follow me back- I’ll follow someone as long as I can learn from them and have a good, fun and/or beneficial conversation once in a while. I also try my best to stick to just creative types, especially people who know Flash design and development, because that’s what I’m into and that’s what I want to learn more about! I want to learn from the best, so I try to follow the best. Simple as that.

  4. says

    I completely agree with JenNipps – those are the only reasons I follow someone on Twitter of friend them on various social networking sites. I don’t understand people who follow for the sake of following and building up their numbers – that doesn’t mean you’re popular or an authority in the field! And I can’t stand the people who build their followers by following someone, waiting for that person to follow them back, then unfollow them, just for the sake of making them look cooler by not following everyone who follows them. When someone does that it’s like we’re all back in high school again.

    Excellent post! Keep ’em coming!

  5. says

    I follow people who are interesting to me and whose tweets are relevant to my reasons for being on Twitter in the first place. The amount of time I can devote to reading/clicking tweets is limited, so it only makes sense that I not follow people who tweet primarily about things I am not interested in hearing about.

  6. says

    I don’t add many people on twitter, mostly they add me. (Unusual strategy, I know) I find I get more adds when I post updates, and I think those who add are either

    1. Using a robot friend-adder like twollow to add everyone who uses keywords or
    2. Reading the “everyone” thread and adding me because they liked something I said.

    If I had to guess I’d say these people added you by robot or they didn’t recognize your twitter handle as the person they’d been fighting with, and liked something you said. Of course, it could be the third option:

    3. They went to a friend’s page and added everyone on it. Yeah, people do that. Why? It takes a lot of TIME to check every address.

  7. says

    When I started on Twitter, I followed back to return the favor. Now I actually look at the person’s page; if he or she has a bazillion followers and the Tweets are not interesting to me, I don’t follow back. But I still feel a little guilty.

    I’m trying to use Twitter as a way to stay in touch with friends (my NaNoWriMo community) and as a “marketing tool” to promote my blog and other writings. I want lots of followers, but I also like to read what everybody Tweets… so if I had a bazillion followers, how could I keep up with all of them? I don’t get those people who follow 1,000 people on Twitter. I guess they either live in Twitter, or just read the last however-many-Tweets-fit-on-the-homepage… If you follow me, I want you to read ALL the gems I choose to Tweet!

  8. Ryan says

    Most people I follow I know. Either personally or professionally. Those I don’t know I get something out of. Wheather it’s news, info, or wit. If it doesn’t fit into one of these catagories I have no time for them

  9. says

    Interesting, well, if you look at it from my point of view, I follow people just because:
    #1 : they are going to benefit me, whether by giving me advice or sharing links to my interests.
    #2 : they just seem interesting enough, I’ve been reading my blogs, hearing about them a lot.

    a person’s online reputation changes from time to time, one day you are the horrible adviser, the next day you are the internet guru, so, I think the people that are starting to follow you again after saying stupid stuff about you, now think you actually got something to say, you’ve proven them wrong, and now, they are trying to correct their mistakes 😉 .

  10. says

    I’m a little more lenient on who I follow on twitter than who I follow on facebook. I follow those on twitter who

    1. I know
    2. are involved in the environmental movement
    3. are a writer
    4. have followed me and I find them interesting for any one of the above reasons or some arbitrary reason

    I only friend people I know or work with (I work virtually with many people – I’m sure most of us do) on facebook. I get requests from time to time from people who read my blog and hunt me down on facebook that ask to be my friend. I’d rather keep facebook personal.

    Question – how do you turn someone down on facebook? Do you leave them languishing in unconfirmed status or do you officially reject them? Honestly, I have them languishing in no man’s land. What happens when you reject someone’s request? Do they get a message saying “Robin rejected you?”

  11. says

    On Twitter, I will follow back anyone who follows me that isn’t in it just for PR or a spammer. If after some time I notice I’m not interested in what they tweet, I’ll unfollow them.

    For Facebook, I’ve accepted all but one friend request, but have created categories that manages what information the people have access to. Since the increase of Facebook contacts since Twitter and blogging, I might change my mind.

    Yes, I definitely think people “follow” or “add” just for sheer numbers. On Twitter people have boasted about how many people follow them, or tweet “I only need 10 more!” This behavior exasperates me. On Facebook, people search to find previous co-workers, classmates, and “friends from back-in-the-day.” There is little interaction to be had, but there is something prompting people to tell them that they need that interaction.

    It’s social media consumerism. Buy it even if you don’t need it.

  12. says

    On second thought, I see what you mean. I was following a lot of people but then they started getting on my nerves and discussing stuff I had no interest in so I narrowed my list down considerably. I don’t know why these people want to follow you, the ones you said that didn’t agree with you several years ago.

    It’s still a good way to network with like-minded peeps

  13. says

    I am not quick to follow. I figured, once I follow, it’d be hard to take them off my list without making an even bigger statement.

    And then again maybe I’m thinking too hard :-).

    I’m thinking of blogger, btw. I am not on the other networks you mentioned.

  14. says

    I usually follow people that are at least making interesting or useful comments (e.g. not spamming), and I follow a few “estabilshed” writers and marketers because I want to learn from them. I like the fact that you can actually develop relationships with others on Twitter. My FB is mostly personal.

  15. says

    This is funny because the same thing occurred to me this weekend.

    I rather like following blogs more then the social media which bores me. I like to learn and be challenged so that I have a solid understanding of what I am doing. I like to be able to question things to make an informed decision. Most of all the only way to be an expert is to be out there and let the chips fall where they will.

    I think there are lots of folks who follow because they have a need to be included for the sake of feeling important.

    Thanks and just for the record I think you are doing a good job with posting.

  16. Therese says

    I have a few funny Facebook stories. I’m pretty much addicted to that site and have reconnected with former classmates (from grade school to college). Since I’ve joined Facebook I’ve had two stalkers (both friends of my friends who I think are desperate for friends). I also had this potential freelance lead try to add me as a “friend.” This same said person completely BLEW me off and couldn’t even give me the time of day to tell me/email me he wasn’t interested in my services. However, he felt it was necessary to add me to his Facebook friends. That really annoyed me so I didn’t add him.

    As for Twitter, I still don’t really understand the microblogging concept. It seems pointless. I used LinkedIn for my business contacts. Twitter seems weird to me.

  17. says

    I just started tweeting this weekend (haven’t made up my mind about it just yet), and so far I’ve been adding my friends & the bloggers I normally follow in my RSS reader (including you).

    On facebook, about 95% of the friends I add I already know or know of. The 5% are friends of friends or people with similar interests. I usually decline random requests (no common friends) or co-worker requests from my medical career.

    By the way — I’ve read your blog/articles since starting seriously freelancing in ’06. Thanks for helping other freelancers. Your site has been a one-stop shop for a long time.

  18. says

    I can barely keep up with the people I like and know, or sort of know, let alone people I don’t like, or people I’ve never even heard of. The main issue is when people friend me, I feel rude if I don’t follow back; more so on something like Facebook than Twitter though. Not that I feel bad enough to just blindly follow anyone who follows me, but it is more pressure. I will follow people I don’t consider a “pal” if they have a blog I like though, or if they have a major common interest like architecture or unschooling, because then they tend to post links to stuff I enjoy.

  19. Shanna says

    I definitely think about who I friend on Facebook (don’t use Twitter). The majority of my Facebook friends are people I know in “real life” or have known online for more than a decade. I have some “friends of friends” also. I have both personal and professional contacts there. I would not friend someone who had been rude to me in the past, as you mention, or someone that I didn’t know at all. What’s the point?

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