Tuesday, December 17, 2013

THE (UN)FOLLOWING



Months and months ago, I stopped following three style bloggers on Instagram. One had recently given birth and her feed became inundated with pictures of her (adorable) new bundle of joy. Another was grieving the loss of a family member and each snapshot was a dedication to her deceased loved one. The third had begun a new exercise regimen and her fashion-related photographs were swapped out for post-workout images of her flexing her biceps. In other words, their fashion-related photographs—which was initially the reason I followed them—were exchanged for content that was unrelated to their blog topics. By no means was the decision to unfollow them personal, but my philosophy is this: if I like your content, then I subscribe. It’s that simple. I don’t follow bloggers because we’re cyber-friends. I don’t follow bloggers because they follow me. I follow because I sincerely enjoy the content, and when the content is no longer my cup of tea, I unsubscribe.

So I unfollowed them.

You know what happened after that? The three of them promptly unfollowed me too—and that experience was my firsthand experience of the follow-for-follow culture that has taken over the style blogging community.

I have to admit that I was disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed that they unfollowed me. I was disappointed that they unfollowed me after I unfollowed them—it was as if they stopped following me solely as a result of me unfollowing them (and not because they were no longer interested in my content).

Now, I’m just going to come right out and say it: I despise the follow-for-follow (and unfollow-for-unfollow) culture. I absolutely loathe it. And my disdain reached an all-time high a month or so ago when, while browsing Facebook, I came across a status update from a member of Bloggers Like Me. She adamantly declared that she was no longer following or liking anyone who didn’t “return the favor” because she had goals to reach. Sadly, there was a multitude of bloggers belonging to the group who shared her sentiment and left comments under her status update agreeing to follow her if she followed them. (Side note: Shortly after, one of the members stated that she had to unfollow some of the members she initially promised to follow because their posts included too much profanity and semi-nudity. There lies another problem in requesting that people follow you without providing them with an actual reason to follow you. Not only do you not know if they sincerely enjoy your content or if they’re following due to a sense of obligation, but when you participate in follow-for-follow, you don’t really know who you’re following).

Reciprocation has become such a common practice, weaved into the fabric of the style blogging community so seamlessly that it has become an expectation. Etiquette, almost. In order to grow our blogs, we’re taught to comment on other blogs because they’ll “return the favor” and comment on our blogs (which for some, is a tried-and-true method of growth). In turn, that ups the number of comments we receive which puts us that much closer to free merchandise and brand partnerships and superblogger status (or so we think). It’s often said that blogging is not an island and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, but this widespread ‘rule of reciprocity’ is just one thing I cannot get behind.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting one another. I’m even for self-promotion when it’s done properly. But more than anything, I’m for creating content that is compelling and worthy of being liked without excessive solicitation. Yes, we all have goals, but perhaps one of the goals should include building growth by providing engaging content rather than relying on the “follow for follow” method of growth. We need to ask ourselves if we’re contributing to the conversation and saying something of substance or if we’re regurgitating what’s already out there and simply adding to the noise. If we’re concerned about our numbers because they’re not what we want them to be, we should use them to challenge and motivate us to create compelling content rather than utilizing a disingenuous method of progress. As a matter of fact, it’s the times my numbers were (pathetically) low that I was most creative because I had to delve deep and really think in order to generate engaging content. For example, my most recent stream of content—100 Brown Girls Blogging, The 5 Cs of Personal Style Blogging, In Defense of Bombshells—was created and published during a time when my statistics (and consistency) were at a low point, and each post was liked and shared with little to no solicitation on my part.

I’ve been blogging off-and-on for about three-and-a-half years and as evidenced by my most recent posts, my mentality about style blogging has changed drastically and my observations of the style blogging community have left me jaded and cynical. In my opinion, style blogging is no longer about content. It’s no longer about community. Hell, it’s not even about clothes anymore.

It’s about ego maintenance.

Instead of challenging ourselves to create content worthy of being liked and shared, we request follow-for-follow under the guise of “support” in order to protect our egos (because it’s all about the numbers, remember?). In reality, we’re simply trying to boost our numbers with the hopes of securing sponsorships and partnerships. It’s as if everyone wants the numbers, but nobody wants to do the (real) work. We want the gold star without putting forth the effort. Look, this is the thing: we shouldn’t be asking people to like us or follow us or share our content in exchanged for liking or following or sharing their content. We should be asking ourselves if we’re creating content worthy of being liked and followed and shared.

So here’s my promise to you: I promise to work my ass off to create and publish content worthy of being liked and followed and shared. In return, I ask that you only like, follow, and share if you genuinely and sincerely enjoy the content on my site.

So what do you say? Deal?

[IMAGE]

19 comments:

  1. Very insightful post and I wholeheartedly agree. I do comment on other blogs when I genuinely like outfit posts or the content but I do not comment just to get comments or leave my blog links everywhere like I see done quite often. I can be honest and say I can see why people would want to unfollow me on IG...my page is pretty boring. I decided to go on every social media platform and make sure that I created a page with my blog name before it was stolen so my twitter and IG are super boring lollll. I appreciate the honesty of this post and it makes me wonder just how many people have unfollow apps!! I would never know who unfollowed me on social media because I honestly don't care that much lollll. I have an idea of the bicep flexing blogger ur speaking of because I had to do the same as well. It can be annoying. Great post!!!

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  2. Womp! And, there it is. There is no way I could possibly say it better myself. Great post!

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  3. Hi there...This is Yan from My Documented Closet. As a fashion blogger there are lots of avenues to display our work. That's why there is not JUST a .com (which is where ALL my fashion content lives and is updated) Instagram/Fb, Pinterest and other cyber spaces I use to as I please..I tailor my posts as it meets the interests of my audiences..or frankly as it meets my will. Everyone has the right to exercise what they want to see, so you have a right to follow who you want, and so do we! We are human beings with likes and dislikes also. Fashion, family, food, musings, music are all apart of my life as a style blogger. Showing pictures of my children as everything to do with fashion as my latest mall haul. I have readers who constantly ask me how to dress their kid for this...or what should I buy for that... So before you start judging us fashion bloggers on our "content", just remember that we have lives too and some of our reader actually enjoy seeing that part of us. Keep in mind Fashion blogging is BUSINESS for a lot of us. And you wouldn't understand that useless you yourself are in this business. I just don't understand why you would take it personal that someone unfollowed you AFTER you unfollowed them.

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  5. Sigh....so forgive me for that rant. SMH... this blogging stuff is a funny thing.

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  6. Great post.I think what some people forget is that blogging is not just about clothes, it is about building a sense of community. I am not into the follow for follow thing, but I do visit and comment on just about every single blog that visits my page even if it takes me a while to do it. It takes time for another blogger to actually visit a page and leave a comment and I appreciate that. I do also understand that the bigger a blog gets it is more of a challenge to personally acknowledge each reader. Every blog may not be a person's cup of tea, but when they take the time to visit you or support your blog, I do think it is a nice gesture to stop over and say hello or join the conversation on that blog. Lots of friendships develop this way.

    I tend to connect with bloggers beyond what they chose to wear that day or their age, so if posts with content other than clothes gets posted, I learn more about them and that's ok. I think blogging is reciprocal like friendship. If you put a lot in, you tend to get more out of it. The reality is there are a lot of us that write and create great content, but just because you build it does not mean they will come. Blogging is also about building relationships with other bloggers and a lot of the time that starts with commenting, liking, sharing and engaging in the content other bloggers are creating.

    I love looking at bloggers with great style, but if all I want to do is look at fashion photos, I can read a magazine for that. It is the personal human element that gets me to follow a blogger and connect with her.

    It looks like you got a tit for tat response with those that unfollowed you because you unfollowed them. Follow for follow is pretty shallow and I agree that people should follow because they like the content of a blog.

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  7. Great post.I think what some people forget is that blogging is not just about clothes, it is about building a sense of community. I am not into the follow for follow thing, but I do visit and comment on just about every single blog that visits my page even if it takes me a while to do it. It takes time for another blogger to actually visit a page and leave a comment and I appreciate that. I do also understand that the bigger a blog gets it is more of a challenge to personally acknowledge each reader. Every blog may not be a person's cup of tea, but when they take the time to visit you or support your blog, I do think it is a nice gesture to stop over and say hello or join the conversation on that blog. Lots of friendships develop this way.

    I tend to connect with bloggers beyond what they chose to wear that day or their age, so if posts with content other than clothes gets posted, I learn more about them and that's ok. I think blogging is reciprocal like friendship. If you put a lot in, you tend to get more out of it. The reality is there are a lot of us that write and create great content, but just because you build it does not mean they will come. Blogging is also about building relationships with other bloggers and a lot of the time that starts with commenting, liking, sharing and engaging in the content other bloggers are creating.

    I love looking at bloggers with great style, but if all I want to do is look at fashion photos, I can read a magazine for that. It is the personal human element that gets me to follow a blogger and connect with her.

    It looks like you got a tit for tat response with those that unfollowed you because you unfollowed them. Follow for follow is pretty shallow and I agree that people should follow because they like the content of a blog.

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  8. Well said! I'm somewhat new to the blogging world but I would not feel comfortable requesting someone to follow me just because I follow them! If I like what you post about then I'm following you regardless! If someone follows me I hope that its strictly because they enjoy what I post!

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  9. Girllll u said something in this post !!!!! Love how bold u are with your truth

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  10. i'm sitting here looking crazy at my monitor like, "i need to say something, but she already said it all so what else is there to say?" seriously. enough is enough with the junior high mentality that exists among some in the blogging community as a whole - not just style bloggers. i opt-in to content that EARNS my attention. period.

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  11. This why you will always be one of my favorites because your writing is always well thought out and you always say what a lot of people think but are unable to articulate. Keep doing what you do. I am kinda over the whole blogging thing as of lately it's become to "much" as a whole for me. Another great one Ty!

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  12. I stopped blogging a year ago and I'm really glad did especially after meeting some BIG time bloggers. How many ways can someone say something about the outfit you are wearing?! Keep writing Ty, I've missed you.

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  13. I agree with you. I don't have a problem with someone who was a fashion blogger showing other parts of their non-fashion related life every now and then, but when that part takes over the entire blog, and that part is not something that interests me, I'd stop following too. If these people "unfollowed" you solely because you stopped following them, then they probably weren't following you for the right reasons in the first place. If so, it's probably better that they left.

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  14. Ugh when someone's instagram shifts...I gotta go. I feel bad but I signed up for one thing ya know. Most of the time I tell people, I'm not going to follow you just because I know you. It doesn't mean I don't like you, it just means I don't like your photos lol. I think I may know the blogger you're talking about, she wrote it on twitter as well and I was like that's petty. I was followed by a pretty big blogger and have even met her, recently she unfollowed me yeah I was like dang that sucks but I didn't unfollow her. Her content has changed I still enjoy it. Unfollowing her would be petty. Another big blogger unfollowed me because I posted a photo with a girl she doesn't like. I thought that was pretty silly considering it was a group photo and the girl is not my friend. But I can't really blame her for not wanting to see someone she has conflict with on her feed. We are still friends and I still follow her lol. Follow 4 follow is dumb, asking someone to follow you is even dumber. Why would you even want someone to be following you only because you asked them to. I want people who are generally interested in the content I'm working to produce. I wanna know it's real.

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  15. Truth. *clapping wildly* Everyone else has pretty much said what I would have said and I'm not trying to do redundant. Keep doing you, love.

    As always I'm happy that you posted, keep doing you!!!

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  16. I always ENJOY reading your post. You are very honest, and I love how you just tell it like it is. ..it's really funny because you can tell the ones who are blogging to help others and who is blogging just for the numbers.

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  17. yaaas namesake! you'd better preach.

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