Today I’m here to talk about a topic that might be a little controversial: why GFC/Networked Blogs/Linky aren’t true determinations of how many followers you have. Instead, it’s an arbitrary number that shows how many people decided to click “Follow” when bribed with a giveaway.
One of the #1 reasons why people don’t want to switch to WordPress is because they don’t want to lose their GFC followers. But are those really your followers? Are those the people who check your new posts in their Blogger dashboard every day? No.
In general, I think people cling onto GFC/NB/Linky too obsessively. All those widgets display are numbers.. and inaccurate ones at that.
People follow because they have incentives
I think many of our followers only follow us when they are given incentive. They might follow us for a better chance at winning a giveaway, or in hopes that we will follow them back. But many of those people might never read or visit our blog again after following us!
Many bloggers host giveaways (including myself!). And many of those bloggers allow for extra entries (like following via GFC/NB/Linky, or subscribing via e-mail, or following on Twitter, etc.). But how many of those people ONLY follow you for the giveaway? I’m sure there are many people out there who follow someone via GFC for a giveaway, but then never actually login to their Blogger dashboard to read the posts of people they follow.
To Get You to Follow Back
Have you ever had someone comment on your blog something like:
I’m a new follower! I’d love it if you’d follow me back. 🙂
Now I know this won’t always be the case, but what are the odds that they followed you JUST because they were hoping you’d follow them back? Just because they clicked that “Follow” button doesn’t mean they check their Linky dashboard for new posts. It doesn’t mean they log into Blogger to read their “Reading List” of followed blogs. In fact, they might never visit your blog again! All that action means is that you get one extra number.
At what point do our follower counters become just a number, and not a real representation of our following?
How many of your GFC followers actually check your blog regularly? 50%? 35%? If you never offer incentives for following you (extras in giveaways) then the number is probably higher (70%+).
People are too attached to GFC/NB/Linky
I might get raged at for this, but I think some people are too attached to GFC/NB/Linky. I understand that some people have built up a huge number there and don’t want to let it go… because it’s a nice big number, but really.. how is that number helping you if people don’t really follow you that way?
I used to have Networked Blogs and Linky in my sidebar, but I removed them. Why? Because I don’t believe that most ‘real’ followers use those methods. If people want to follow my blog they will 1) subscribe or 2) manually check back regularly. Don’t believe me? See the results for yourself:
Poll Results – How do people really follow blogs?
I recently ran a poll where the question was: How do you follow blogs when you LEGITIMATELY want to stay updated with new posts? And as of today, here are the results:
If you look at this chart, you’ll notice that e-mail subscriptions and RSS completely dominate. Together, they make up 64% of your followers. GFC only has 12%, and NetworkedBlogs is barely on the radar with 1%, and Linky isn’t even there at all! So if you’re sporting those widgets, odds are most of your followers don’t actually follow you through those methods!
So how do we count our real followers?
There is no perfect way to do this. I use a combination of three methods:
- E-mail subscribers. But not just the AMOUNT of e-mail subscribers, but the percentage of my subscribers that actually open the e-mails. People can still subscribe to me on a dummy e-mail account just for a giveaway. So when I calculate my real number, I only factor in the percentage who actually open the e-mails. This can only be done in more premium systems like MailChimp and a variety of WordPress plugins
- RSS subscribers. There are ways in WordPress to calculate how many “hits” your RSS feed gets per day. You may have 500 RSS subscribers, but what percentage of those actually check their RSS reader and view your posts? In Feedburner, this is called “Reach”. Your Reach is the total number of people who have viewed or clicked on your RSS feed each day.
- Unique visitors. Your unique visitors (NOT pageviews because one person can generate multiple pageviews) are a very accurate way of tracking followers. The only downside is that people who read your e-mails or follow your RSS WITHOUT visiting your blog won’t get counted.
You won’t get a 100% accurate number of you average these out, but it will give you a good idea. For example, someone could follow you via e-mail [+1 follower] and then also visit your blog [+1] but that should only be counted as 1 overall—not 2. But there’s no way to do this for certain.
Let’s ditch the fake numbers
If the only thing standing between you and WordPress is GFC, don’t let it. Don’t be afraid of “losing all your followers” in the move, because we’ve established that most of those “followers” aren’t actually followers at all! And, of course, if people are truly following you, they would follow you again on WordPress anyway.
So I’m calling out to bloggers, publishers, authors, blog tour hosts, and anyone else who asks for your “GFC followers” as a statistic: let’s drop all pretenses. Let’s stop pretending that GFC, NetworkedBlogs, and Linky actually mean something.. because honestly, they don’t. We all want more followers and more people to read our blog, but let’s go about it in the right way. Let’s encourage people to follow through the ways that actually matter: e-mail and RSS. Those are the followers that are more likely to mean something.