There was a time that if you said, “People are following me!” you would be taken for a mental evaluation. These days, it usually means you have a blog or a Twitter account. Or you’re a spy.
I was standing at my desk at work this afternoon and my phone buzzed to tell me that “LeesKoreaBlog” is now following me. Upon further inspection, I discovered that this person is in Seoul, Korea. I’ve never been to Korea, let alone Seoul, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve never met the person who owns the account. I currently have 20 followers—OH, 21 now !—and I’ve only met about 5 of them in the flesh. The rest just decided to follow me based on what I’ve tweeted or blogged, I assume. I’m following 67 Twitter accounts whose owners probably wonder the same thing about me (except for the celebs and news outlets who expect to be followed).
This social media stuff is just so odd. I follow people I’ve never met, too, but they’re usually celebrities, corporate websites, new outlets, etc. On Facebook and Twitter, I rarely have anything important to say. Most of my tweets are just retweets from what someone else tweeted. I like when strangers follow my blog, because I have thoughts and information that (I think) might help other people. (I’m sorry, Followers, that I don’t post new articles very often. Blogging doesn’t pay the bills, so I have to work “for the man every night and day”!)
If you have a blog and you want people to follow you, you follow other people’s blogs. It’s very organic. (“She told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on…”) I frequently get emails telling me that so-and-so liked my article, is now following me, and that I should go check out their blog, too. So I guess that follows for people who follow you on Twitter, too. I follow some online news writers, I make a pithy comment on one of their posts, and one of the news writer’s other followers likes it, so they follow me, too? Sure, why not.
Some (OK, much) of the following stuff has to do with marketing. If I follow enough people and they follow me, my “brand” will become known in certain circles and, in a perfect world, I could sell advertising on my blog. I’ve followed a few blogs that I’ve found amusing, they’ve written books, and I’ve bought some of their books. All bloggers should be so lucky (and have time to write books). Very few blogs get to that point.
When a stranger follows your tweets and your blog, the correct etiquette is to follow them right back, right? But then I have a little paranoia over that. Why did they follow me? Will anything bad happen if I follow them? Will I have a crazy stalker outside my bedroom window at 3 am? Probably not, since I’m not a celebrity, but then, who knows?
I don’t have a stalker (or he/she is very good at stalking). I think in most cases, it’s safe to follow and be followed on social media, as long as you don’t broadcast your address and phone number. (People have been stalking other people long before social media. I once had a stalker when I was single. I told some of my male colleagues and then the stalker mysteriously went away.) If someone really wants to find you, though, there are ways other than social media to do so. And you can always report/block/unfollow someone if you think there is a problem. I’ve followed some Twitter feeds that I found interesting at first, but then got bored with their indignant, often left-leaning, repetitive political rants and unfollowed them. Responding to such people thinking that you’re going to help them see the error of their ways only fuels the fire. (I didn’t report or block them, because they have a right to their idiotic opinions.) They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but some of them are just plain creepy.
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, WhoSay, LinkedIn, Instagram, FourSquare, SnapChat…where will it all end? (I now have 19 followers. Not sure who I lost.)
“Mom this is How Twitter Works” explains in detail how Twitter works, in case you still don’t know.