Thoughtful Thursday | Follower Count

Happy Thursday, book friends. Today’s Thoughtful Thursday post is inspired by a recent discussion I was having with my friend Winnie of Hundred Acre Books. We talked about the follower counts in the Bookstagram community, but this is definitely relevant to all social media platforms where users can build a following.

While there are various reasons anybody wants to gain a large following, there are two main reasons why I think follower count matters to most social media users:

  1. A growing following is evidence of the success of your work and social media engagement methods. Getting more followers means you’re reaching a wider audience of people who are interested in you and what you do.
  2. Gaining followers often provides some kind of personal or emotional reassurance—there is a sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing someone out there cares about you and what you have to say or share online.

Most likely due to instagram’s algorithm updates and favoring of marketing tactics, many users in the bookstagram community are dedicating special accounts to featuring smaller accounts which are often hindered by Instagram itself and providing advice to others on how to improve their engagement strategies and gain more followers.

While I’m appreciative of how supportive bookstagrammers are of each other in this way, there is one thing that has been bothering me.

Many have been advising others to leave kind and thoughtful messages on each other’s posts, which is wonderful. It’s so easy for people to abuse social media, harass others and hide behind a screen to avoid consequences of their actions. We should constantly advocate for and strive for positive social interactions which allow all users to feel welcome, safe and important in online environments.

What has been worrying me is that I fear some users will only look at this method of engagement–being kind and leaving thoughtful messages on each other’s posts–as a method for gaining followers. I sometimes feel that some social media “gurus” are promoting the idea that “you should leave nice comments so people will follow you” as opposed to “you should leave people nice comments because they deserve them.

Being a decent human being on and offline should be a way of life rather than a strategy for becoming more popular. In other words, we should be kind to one another just because it’s the right thing to do. Sucking up to people and false niceties are just as rude online as they are in person.

If your aspiration for your account is to have a huge following, own up to it. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to get more followers. But remember that the number of followers you have doesn’t necessarily reflect how amazing or unique or wonderful you are as a person.

There’s no need to set deadlines for follower counts. Whereas it took some people 30 days to reach 1000 followers, it took me nearly 3 years to reach 2000. There is no one-size-fits-all guidebook to reaching a huge audience of followers/subscribers. Others will follow you for different reasons, so I think the best thing you can do is just to be yourself and experiment in every way you can until you find how to best utilize a platform to accommodate your work and values and achieve your aspirations.

While having a large follower count isn’t my main reason for participating in online communities, I’m very blessed and fortunate to have the followers I have on my blog and on Instagram. I am grateful and humbled by the fact that over 2000 instagram users decided “she’s pretty cool” or “she takes pretty photos” and hit that follow button. But like everyone else, my numbers fluctuate every second. Someone follows only to unfollow as soon as I reciprocate the gesture or sometimes the app itself forces someone to unfollow me without anyone realizing. Spam accounts are not uncommon either and can be a real pain. Even if not all of those 2k+ people are actually paying attention to me, there are quite a few whom I’ve interacted with more than once, often regularly, which have made being in the community extremely gratifying.

Does it bother me when my follower count suddenly deceases? Of course it does. But it bothers me because I know that some of those followers are people who will only follow me until I follow them back. One of the only reasons why I want my account to grow is that I rep for many amazing artists and small businesses and I want more people to know about them. Other than that, I’m happy with whoever is willing to stick with me as I share who I am online.

But while I do enjoy meeting new people and having fun and interesting conversations with others, just expressing myself and practicing the articulation of my opinions online are gratification enough. I don’t have an extremely deep connection with every person I encounter online.

I will admit that I don’t always have the time or motivation to leave super detailed comments on people’s posts–sometimes just a few words. But I do suggest, when you can, that you give back to those who support you. If someone sends you a nice message, just saying ‘thank you’ is sufficient. Everyone wants to feel acknowledged, regardless of how large or popular your account is. Even if I don’t get to answer until days later, I try to respond to people’s comments and visit their pages and leave a comment too.

So what about you? What does your follower count represent for you as a member of the bookish community on any platform (instagram, blogosphere, twitter)? What’s your best piece of advice with regards to social media engagement?


Twitter: @jasminesreading
jasminesreading @singprettyreadbooks
*2018 Reading Challenge Update: 118/200

7 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday | Follower Count

  1. This is such a great post and you talk about some really important things. What stuck with me the most was the point you made about being nice to someone because you want followers vs because they deserve it. I find that motivation can sometimes be so hard to distinguish while interacting online so it’s always nice to see there are some people out there that feel the same way. Thanks so much for sharing thins, I’m sure you’re giving a lot of people (including myself) something to think about.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your response, Libby. Agreed–I tend to read into things a little more than I might need to, but sometimes it’s helpful to have a good sense of who is truly being kind and who just wants you to follow them. May we continue to be kind to everyone we encounter. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t comment on things for people to reciprocate. Even before I was blogger I was a commenter. It was a way for me to tell the creator, that I appreciated what they had done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm well I used to be a bit more obsessed with my stats for social media but this year I haven’t been as active on social media. I don’t tweet or post on my blog as much as I used to but my follower count is still important to me because I hope that people care about what I say (as you mentioned in your post).

    I also agree with you that it can be problematic when people adopt the mindset that being friendly & kind to each other is the best way to gain followers. This post definitely made me reconsider my own approach to social media and whether there are strategies I should or shouldn’t use.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your response, Rachana. There are definitely times when I’m concerned about my follower count to the point that I just keep asking myself “what’s the point if no one cares?” But I do think it will matter in different ways for different reasons–and that’s okay too. It’s just like doing school work or working at a job–you want to be acknowledged and recognized for your accomplishments.

      While I think interacting with others online actually is a great way of reaching out and gaining more followers, I hope that people remember to just be kind for the sake of it. I think acting on kindness with expectations counteracts the true purpose of human decency.

      Liked by 1 person

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