The follow for follow mentality in blogging

I want to talk about something. Something which has become more and more prominent in the blogging world over the last few years. At least for me anyway – it’s probably been like this for far longer but perhaps I haven’t been paying attention. It’s something I see almost on a daily basis; on Twitter and even in blog comments on my own blog. I feel that we have a bit of a “follow for follow” problem in blogging and I wanna have… a little chat… about it today (chat = rant).

We all remember the days of MySpace (if you don’t then you’re far too young!) and PC4PC. Again, for those toddlers which don’t remember any of this, PC4PC means ‘Picture Comment for Picture Comment’. Getting comments on your MySpace photos was like a really huge deal and PC4PC was a way to exchange comments and basically get more comments on your photos so more people complimented you and you were cooler. Or something.

I’m not going to lie to you, I very much got caught up in the whole PC4PC thing. I was obsessed with getting more and more comments. This incessant need to be popular even transferred over to Instagram, when I first made an Instagram account long before I started blogging. I would frequently take part in ‘Shout out 4 shout out!’s and was consumed with getting more followers and comments on Instagram. I’m sharing this because it’s obvious that it’s very easy to get caught up in the numbers, the popularity and the need to be seen. It’s so damn easy to get sucked into all of that.

But when it comes to blogging, things are different. I started blogging over 5 years ago and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, how to gain followers or how people even found my blog. I am so proud of myself to say that my blog following has been 100% organic, gradual and without the help of anything or exchanging follows for the sake of getting another follow. And I think with a blog, a place where you showcase your work, your thoughts, opinions and feelings, that’s how it should be. I want my followers to follow me because they want to follow me and are interested in what I have to say.

I don’t want them to follow me because they feel obliged to.

More and more recently I’ve seen comments from people on my blog saying, “I’ve followed you, follow me back!” Even on Twitter I’ve had similar things said to me. And I’ve not once followed one of those people back because to me, that’s not how a following works. Nope. Nu-uh. I won’t follow someone’s blog just because they’ve followed mine and asked politely. And I’m aware that sounds a bit mean but it’s true and I’m nothing if not honest. I’ll follow a blog because I like it. Because I want to be updated on their posts. Because I’m interested in what they have to say.

Like, I feel that’s a really obvious thing to say but it’s true?

With blogging becoming more and more of a “thing” these days (and rightly so!) it’s easy to understand that a lot of new bloggers are coming into the blogging world reading already highly established blogs. But that will always be the case, there will always be someone who’s been blogging longer than you and someone with more followers than you. I get that some people might want that “quick leg up” and they think that doing these follow exchanges is the way to do that. Like I said at the beginning, it’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers game.

But at the end of the day, forced followers are going to be dead numbers. Just like when people buy followers and their followers to interaction ratio just doesn’t add up. Real, genuine and interested followers are the ones who will be commenting on your posts, tweeting you and interacting with you. They’re the ones who, over time, will make up your numbers if you continue to be totally and authentically you and grow organically and without an agenda. 

There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by numbers. There’s nothing wrong with feeling pride when you see those numbers rise, none at all. I’m totally motivated by numbers and seeing those increase gives me the biggest boost of motivation. But blogging is hard work, like really hard work sometimes and having followers which are anything by genuine just, doesn’t sit right with me. Someone who has never directly asked for a follower in their life. Let your hard work, your writing, your talents, your opinions and your uniqueness be what gets you the followers you want and deserve. 

What are your thoughts on this topic? Have you noticed a follow for follow mentality in blogging?

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Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

51 thoughts on “The follow for follow mentality in blogging

  1. I love this post. This mentality drives me nuts! I don’t follow people just because they follow me, I follow people who engage and are interesting etc. As a result I get tons of unfollows a day because I’m not following them back and to be honest, meh. If they’re inky following me to get a follow back? Nope.
    I feel the same about people who have like 50k followers but follow 70k themselves. Like, they only follow that many people to get those followers. No way they see their tweets etc it’s pointless and just a way to get a ton of followers easily.

  2. This is such an interesting post. I definitely focus too much on the numbers and I really shouldn’t, when I get comments like I bought this book because of you that’s when I feel best because it means people respect my opinion which is really cool

  3. Great post. I feel the same way being new to the blogging world. I want to make an impact and if someone wants to follow me I want it to be for the right reason. Being genuine is what it is all about. Thanks!!

  4. I have certainly noticed that mentality on Instagram. I have received the occasional comment that’s just a link to another blog or an emoji which I guess it the same thing! I totally agree with building a following slowly and organically – I think it will pay off so much more in the long run.

  5. I follow who I want to follow and want people to follow me because they want to. I haven’t participated in a follow train for this reason. Instagram especially is so fickle with follow for follow and unfollowing that I’d rather engage with people. I take time to read blogs, comment on blogs, follow and engage on social media. That’s way more important. Great post.

  6. I definitely think you’re right about this, there’s 100% a feeling that people are obligated to follow you back. I tend to only follow people who interact with me, because I don’t see the point in just having another number there if they won’t chat to me/comment on my stuff etc. I just want to know you’re a human, rather than another almost robotic blogger who is only focused on gaining numbers.
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

  7. I have said many times that the numbers are nice, but its the people and the experience of blogging thats important, i have asked for followers when i was close to a milestone, not once did i get angry about it all when no one did follow me because its down to them.

    I miss the days when blogging was about what you had for lunch.. to much ‘im better than you’ attitude of late.

  8. Thank you so much for this post! I 100% agree with all your points. Blogging to me is about a community that share things and interact not to just follow never ready any of their post. What’s the point in that? You’ve got to follow blogs you’re interested not blogs that you think will just follow you back.

  9. Great post! I’m very new to this. Agree totally, if one person reads and likes my post and follows because they actually like what I’ve written that means more than dozens of people clicking like because it’s appeared in their feed. I started a blog for a number of reasons, but mainly because it helps me.

  10. I agree. I only follow blogs and other social media accounts if I’m interested in their content. I don’t expect people to follow me back, especially since I don’t post consistently and my topics vary so greatly.

  11. I totally agree and never do follow-for-follow either. If people like my content, it makes me happy. I usually check out new followers or likers as a matter of course, so people don’t need to stick their link under every single comment! If I like what they’re doing, I’ll follow back. But if people only follow me because they think there’s a chance of getting something back – well they’ll probably be disappointed!

  12. Follow for follow mentalities I feel like are something that we usually see people partake on Instagram, not really in blogging. I definitely agree with you, because building your blog from the ground up with no F4F, you truly know that all the people who are following your blog and are reading it are reading it because they like it, not just because they want more followers on their blog.

  13. I just started my blog a few days ago, so I may not be caught up in it all right now, but I would definitely rather people follow me who genuinely want to read what I have to say. If I’m not your cup of tea, I don’t want you to give me a follow to clutter up your news feed (because I won’t be following back just to follow more people, sorry!).
    Numbers aren’t everything. Quality over quantity!
    Thanks for the great post!

  14. I couldn’t agree more! I want people to find some value in what I have to say, and they aren’t going to do that by me asking for it! It’s got to be genuine and come from them. It can be a fine line to balance between ‘it’s all about the writing’ (strokes chin…) and ‘hey everyone, look at me, read my posts!’ – and it’s a learning curve. For me, I’m not someone that’s naturally comfortable with ‘selling myself’ so the asking for followers approach just isn’t me. Great post!

  15. Yes, agree. Did go through a faze of this sort of thing, but quickly realised you don’t get the genuine interest long term. I’ve decided to concentrate on the content of my blog and hope the interest will come.

  16. I agree with this. BUT, I am something of a voracious blog reader, so I follow pretty much anything, I have a mentality that people often have quite interesting things to say, even if it’s a subject I know very little about. I love to sit and read blogs. I will however only comment if I truly have something to say.
    I do keep an eye on unfollowers though. I’ve been fairly lucky that I can often tell if it’s someone who is following me purely in the hope I’d follow them back!
    The downside to only pursuing an organic following these days is the alleged high-pressure for people who want to work with brands (“must have 10k followers and a DA of 30” etc etc) which is actually not true, trust me, I have stuff coming up and I have neither of those stats. But I think it puts pressure on bloggers to play the numbers game. Great post as always Jenny!

  17. Very well said! I hate when someone follows me on twitter or something and right away tweets/messages saying ‘I’ve just followed you, follow me back?’. It actually puts me off. I want genuine engagement, followers etc. — I don’t want it to all just be about numbers. It is easy to get caught up in it sometimes though, like you said, what with comparing ourselves to other bloggers who are more established. I think that ‘follow for follow’ mentality is rife at the moment but I try and stay clear of it!

  18. This is a great post – and one I completely agree with. I’m feeling a bit like this with ‘returning comments’ as well. A few times, people have commented and, feeling like I should return the favour, I visit their blog…and none of their content grabs me. Don’t get me wrong – it’s fantastic content, but it’s just not my interests. I’ll happily explore their blog, but comments for me is someone genuinely engaging with the topic and wanting to react to it – not because they feel like they have to or want a comment back. And now I’m using your awesome post to rant, it’s just so timely you posting this. You’re completely right: follows should be about genuinely wanting to see the content, not about trying to boost your own numbers.

  19. Hear, Hear!! I don’t follow back everyone, and I’m sure some people have been put off by that. But I think the genuine interest is important. Thanks for the thoughts on this, Jenny!

  20. I really like this post. I think it’s such an important point.

    I’m really new to blogging and so I have been taking part in Twitter chats etc. to boost the number of people who come across my blog, but I feel quite uncomfortable with any ‘follow for follow’ style comments or posts. As you say, what’s the point of those people following me, or me following them, if we would never naturally read each other’s posts? If I had 20 followers who always read my posts and who were helped by my posts, I’d rather that than 2000 followers who never engage and just follow to boost their own numbers.

  21. 🙂 Although it is nice to have lots of follows, the most important thing is interaction.

    And, it makes no sense having a huge following if only a small percentage of those people interact with you.

  22. From an oldie who hasn’t bought into Instagram and Twitter etc, I’m enjoying my hesitant foray into the blogging world. I really don’t get the whole ‘popularity’ thing and am just happy if people want to take the time to read my blogs. I have come across so many amazing, interesting bloggers, like yourself, that I tend to spend my limited time reading other blogs instead of writing. I have my favourites and don’t have much time to explore further. Get a real life outside the building I say! Then you might have some real interesting material to write about that others will be interested in reading.

  23. I have noticed a follow for follow mentality circulating around social media and the blogging community. Thanks so much for highlighting it in this blog post, it’s so important and I think it is rarely talked about which is such a shame as it is a growing issue. I find it’s so easy to get caught up in it but I’ve recently come to feel that we should follow who we want and if we like their content and it’s unfair that we can feel forced into following someone for the sake of it. I’ve also had a couple of Instagram comments similar to what you mentioned about your blog comments asking for follows. Love the photo!

  24. I totally agree. When someone tells or asks you to follow you back, it makes me not want to! I feel like a lot of new bloggers or from a certain generation will still like the “follow for follow” and that is totally fine but they need to realise it is not for everyone. I think if someone takes time to comment on a lot of your blog posts, engages with you on all social medias and are extremely nice to you (without them asking for a follow)…you should follow them back. Even if you they blog about things that don’t interest you, I think out of respect you should follow them on at least a social media account, if you know what I mean? I haven’t got a lot of followers on my blog at all, I have just reached 200 but I am happy because it makes sense when you look at my views, I would hate to have, like you said, dead numbers. Great post Jenny! xx

  25. Totally resonate with all of this! As a small blogger, at first I felt a lot of pressure to at least have 100 followers on Twitter, so I didn’t look like I lacked credibility or something like that. Yet having 100 followers means nothing if none of them interact with you or your content. I’m hoping to build an audience that genuinely want to hear from me. When people follow me with the expectation of a follow-back, and then unfollow later, I’m sadly not surprised by it.

  26. I love this post so much – I follow people because I genuinely like their content and interacting with them. Yeah it’s hard but I’ve also made some amazing friends.
    F4F and Follow/Unfollow doesn’t make you cool, it makes you a dick?
    There’s a whole community of bloggers out there and I’d rather be a part of an amazing community that have loads of numbers.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

  27. I only follow blogs that i am generally interested in reading. And I would hope that people are following mine for the same reason. I don’t want people to follow me just so I will follow them back. It takes a lot of time and effort to write blog posts (a lot more than people think) so I’d like to hope people are actually reading it. Same goes for other platforms of social media.
    Blogging is supposed to be fun and entertaining. Not about the stats and numbers. Even if I had 3 loyal readers who loved my content, I’d be happy 😊
    By the way, fun fact…you were actually the first blog I ever followed ❤❤

  28. As a new blogger, it is really hard. Just trying to find what works and doesn’t work. I have already experienced the follow/unfollow game as well as asking for followers. I have been guilty of that myself. However, I do agree with you. I don’t want people to follow my blog/Instagram/Twitter account unless they like the content being provided.

  29. I absolutely hate the follow/unfollow game so many people play. Just follow who you want because you like what they post, not just to get your numbers up. Like you say numbers are a massive motivation and of course we all want our follower count to go up but for me engagement is much more important. I’d rather have less followers and people read and comment on my blog posts or my instagram photos, not just follow and never interact! xx

    Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

  30. I follow a lot of blogs. However, I do NOT expect anyone to follow me unless they genuinely like and enjoy my content. My blog too has grown organically. I am proud of the friendships I’ve made on here (my friendship with you included) it’s been a completely rewarding experience and I never even think about the numbers anymore past major milestones.

  31. Totally! Follow for follow is just about numbers and not because they are interested in your work. I do love opportunities to discover new people, but only because I’m interested in what they have written. As you said, hard work and organic growth is far more rewarding 🙂 Helen x

  32. I HATE the follow for follow mentality with a friggin’ passion. I just don’t think it’s necessary at all. All you are going to achieve is followers that don’t like or comment on anything because they didn’t follow you for your content. So they may as well not be there anyway. I will only follow someone if I like their content, no matter what platform. I do check out every new follower and if I like what they have to offer, then yes, I will follow.

  33. I always enjoy your posts like this! The community is just all over the place for this. But on the flip of it, I find that if I’m not mutuals with somebody then they don’t always respond or acknowledge that I’ve tweeted them so that can get tiring. I like to support other bloggers as much as possible, I’m interested in what everybody has to say. It drives me up the wall when people ask me to follow/RT/fave them though but aren’t happy to return the favour. Very rude.

  34. It’s just as bad in the cosplay community too that big names are having to step in and call this sort of follow for follow mentality out.

    I tend to look through those follow trains on Twitter as it is a good way of finding blogs I like but I never expect people to blindly follow me. After all, I want my blog to be a community not a cult 😆

  35. I’ve had people saying they followed me but my notification says none so it was obvious that they lied lol. And follow then unfollow is such a dick move for me especially on IG. I usually followed back people as a way to show my support but seeing they unfollow me after a few days it gets pretty disheartening.

  36. Couldn’t agree with you more! I love threads on twitter because i find some great people but Im not following someone just because, i will follow you if I like your content. I hate it when people message you saying ‘I’ve followed you follow back’ uhh no I’m now not going to follow you back!!

  37. Yes, I have noticed this a lot recently! I’ve had quite a few e-mails on Twitter from people asking me to follow their blogs or Instagrams and it can get tiresome. I would never ask anyone to follow me so think it’s a bit cheeky when others just blatantly ask. The worst is when they just send a blog link with no explanation = delete. The most frustrating thing I get is when complete strangers ask me to RT their tweets on Twitter, like whyyyyy should I?! It annoys me when people don’t want to put the effort in to build up a real genuine following and just expect others to make it easy for them. Always enjoy reading your chats Jenny, they are so well written & 100% relatable! Great post girl ❤ xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  38. I hate it when people leave comments on my blog like “Great post, I’d love it if you checked out my blog and maybe followed me?”
    Like, NO! Just no. Those comments are so generic that I doubt those people even read my post. Even if their blog is amazing I just find follow for follow comments to be rude and in bad taste. So I don’t think it’s mean that you don’t follow for follow, people should only follow content that they genuinely care about. Thanks for addressing this issue!

  39. Definitely noticed this being a new blogger! It feels scary to me that, for some people in the blogging community, they’ve followed me, liked/commented on my posts not because they enjoyed the content (which is all I hope for the blog) but because they feel obliged to after I posted it on social media/commented on theirs.

    I’m all for bloggers supporting each other but, like you said, I want the support to be real and genuine- not so they can look “good” for engaging. I really hope the blogging community is able to find the balance between promoting blogs and the “follow for follow” ideas 🙄.

  40. I completely get this! There are so many people (especially on Instagram) that will follow me and then unfollow in a couple of days if I haven’t followed back. I follow a lot of people back, but at the end of the day, I will only follow you if I like your content! People take it as rude or offensive but I expect the same from them (to only follow me for my content) so I don’t understand! Great post Btw Jenny, so well articulated.

    Jas xx | https://thoughtsfromjasmine.co.uk

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