One of the issues of being widely present in social media is whether or not to follow back. On Facebook, Path and LinkedIn people who are interested in you send a request or follow you (in this case only in Facebook). You can either accept or ignore the request. On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and blog people are able to follow you without sending a request if your account is public. Some even ask you to follow them back. But should you do that?
In my opinion these are the reasons of asking for follow back:
- Gaining higher amount of followers because the more followers you have, the more popular you are. It is just like the old days on high school. Popular boys and girls seem to get things done faster and easier, right?
- Calling for follow back just for the sake of follow back.
- Asking to follow back because it is supposedly the social media etiquette.
- You must follow me back because I follow you. I retweet your tweets. I love and comment on most of your pics on Instagram and I comment and reblog your posts. I do all these things to promote you, so please be courteous, follow me back.
Follow back is not obligatory
For me follow back is not obligatory. Let me explain further. I purposely keep accounts I follow on Twitter and Instagram small because I really want to focus and listen. If I follow back everyone who follows me, it would be a tsunami of information. And I don’t even have a huge amount followers on Twitter (512) and IG (354). Do you have any idea how dizzying it is to have so much information in an hour? I sort out, digest and rethink information I get from accounts I follow. And this takes time, time I do not always have.
I only follow accounts which share knowledge, interesting feeds, subjects, insights, a good laugh, and inspirations. If I don’t follow back my follower that doesn’t mean I dislike the person behind the account. Our interests are just not the same. There were accounts I started to follow, they followed me back. After a while they unfollowed me but I am still following them now because I genuinely find their feeds worth reading.
I always check or visit accounts of my new followers. So I know whom I engage with. Some followers have just followed me for a day then they unfollowed me. Perhaps those are people who don’t ask for follow back but expect it automatically. Or perhaps they don’t find my feeds interesting enough after one day. The latter is plausible. Fair enough.
Why should I?
Sometimes it is funny, interesting and strange when new followers ask me to follow back. I said funny because for example their feeds are full of tweets of Ariana Grande (she is just an example here folks). Feeds full of updates about pop idols don’t attract me. Some use Twitter for chatting with their friends, they hardly tweet anything beside that. Or some upload only selfies in different locations. I am just not into that kind of self-loving accounts. Then there are sharents who overshare pictures of their kids. You all know how I think of Sharents. I feel like a voyeur looking at Sharents account, not comfortable. Or even more strange, on Instagram a number of new followers ask me to follow back but their account is locked. How on earth am I able to decide whether the account is worth following if it is locked? My message is it is me who decide to follow back, or not. It is you as the owner of the account to decide who to follow back, not your follower.
The essence of social media
As a professional in online marketing communication I read many books about how to influence prospects, stakeholders and clients/buyers online. The essence of social media is engagement. It is building a community. And this doesn’t necessarily mean following back. Engagement has many forms. Listening and replying to comments or mentions is sufficient in some cases. So I apply this on my online presence.
That is why I try to reply to all comments on this blog and on other social media accounts I have. I do not judge people who always follow back though. It is their own choice but do not expect me to follow back just because you would. Everyone is different. Not following back is not a sign of arrogance. It is a sign of limitation as human behind the account online to process the coming information better.
So now you know why I do not follow back but I interact and engage instead. How about you?