Follows: Do they matter?

For any who have read my past blogs or personal memoirs, whatever you wish to call them, you may recall that my first ever blog was roughly a month ago.  Everything has a beginning was viewed roughly four times on the day it was published and is now up to eleven views.  As my first ever blog post and the fact that I was new to social media the low number of views is not that surprising to me and subsequent posts have not netted much in the way of views either.  While I do plan on touching on that particular subject, later on, the focus of this post is not solely on views but will address the concept of “Follows” and whether or not they actually matter.

Anyone who has entered into the world of social media understands what a “follow” is and what it is conceptually designed to do.  However, in hopes of clarifying my thought process allow me to give my interpretation of the word as it pertains to social media platforms.  To “follow” someone, you are more or less subscribing (free version) to their thoughts, ideas, and creations.  By hitting that button, you have told them that you want to be updated whenever they decide to post something new on social media.  That is all, nothing more or less.  Now a “follow” comes in different forms depending on the social media platform, but for this post, I will focus primarily on WordPress, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Vidme.  Now YouTube, in particular, uses the term “subscriber” the same way that the others use “follow”, in that you are willing to see what the individuals have to offer in the way of content, but you are not going to pay for it.  However, on Twitch a “subscriber” is an individual who is paying you for a service.  Hopefully, I have not lost you yet with all the specifics, but I believe the technicalities are important to the message.

When I first began creating videos on YouTube publically, I had a grand total of two subscribers (friends) and would only receive views from those two individuals, one of which who would never remember to “like” my video.  So, in hopes of gaining additional subscribers, I joined Twitter.  After a couple of weeks, my Twitter account rose to just over twenty followers, but my YouTube subscriber base remained the same.  I then joined a forum for aspiring YouTubers called YTtalk and began interacting with that community and posting links to my videos there.  My posts would receive “views” but my channel only received one additional subscriber and my video view count did not go up by very much at all.  So, in hopes of expanding my outreach further, I created my blog site, joined an active community on Twitter called TeamEmmmmsie, and began posting my videos on Google+, Tumblr, and Vidme.  As I type this, I realize that I should probably link all my sites as a way of further promotion, but in hopes of not coming off as too self-centered, I will not.  Anyway, I hoped that after everything, I would begin to see progress.  Guess what?  I did, but not in the way I expected.

My Twitter account has exploded (in my view) to over 350 followers, my Twitch account (that I do not use) has 41 followers, my blog currently has 7 followers, Vidme account has 27 followers and my YouTube channel now has 17 subscribers.  Now, I am not going to say that I am unhappy with the changes as I am quite pleased.  Is it the growth of others, certainly not, but I am happy with the changes for a particular reason.  For me, it is my YouTube view count versus my subscriber count.  The majority of my videos has a positive view to subscriber ratio which is important to me in that it potentially means that my subscriber base actually watches my videos.  Is it possible that only a few subscribers watch the videos and the rest are from external sources?  Yes, and is most likely the case, but I that is only an assumption.  So why is that important to me?  Its importance and whether or not “follows” matter are identical.

If I have 17 subscribers on YouTube and my video gets close to that number of views, then I have (in concept) provided the entertainment to those who have freely asked to receive it. Now, they did not “like” the video, but I do not judge any video by the “like” or “dislike” option as it is not a wholly reliable source.  So, you are likely asking why I believe having a fairly even subscriber to view ratio is relevant.  Allow me to further explain.  If you have a subscriber or follower base of 1000 people, yet the videos, streams, or blogs you produce see only a small fraction of that in views, then exactly what is their purpose?  An inactive follower or subscriber is dead space.  This excludes “Twitch subscribers” who are paying customers, so if they are paying a monthly fee to never watch your stream then so be it.  Now, here is the rub.  For some individuals, not all mind you, the “follow” or subscriber number is the goal because sadly it has the possibility to attract new followers/subscribers.  I call this the herd mentality.  For instance, if someone sees a group of people standing in line at the door of a store, they will simply assume it is the waiting line to enter the store.  Sure, some will ask the last person in line if they are waiting to enter, but a vast majority will simply follow those already standing there, hence the herd mentality.  So, if someone sees a new YouTube video posted and the person who posted it has thousands of subscribers/followers, then they will simply assume that the person has great videos or streams and will click on that video over the one made by the individual who has less than a dozen subscribers/followers.

This type of thinking is why you often see “Sub 4 Sub” or “Follow 4 Follow” messages floating around.  Now, this does not mean that everyone who has hundreds or thousands of followers/subscribers and minimal views has gained their base by such practices, nor is it a way of trashing them.  I am just pointing out what I have seen during my short tenure. So, to provide an official answer to the question of whether or not follows matter?  Yes and no.  I know that is not the answer you were wanting because we all know that draws are horrible and that there should always be a clear winner, but in this case, it is truly up to the individual.  For some, the tally is the goal, even if the number is not a direct reflection of support.  As for me, and others I am sure, the tally is great but would certainly prefer to have my follower/subscriber number accurately reflect the support received.  Now, does this mean that I would delete my accounts if I suddenly received hundreds and thousands of followers/subscribers?  No!  I would welcome them all and hope that in time they would all enjoy the content I provide.

 

Comments, Oh my!

Several months ago I was reading an article on a popular sports related website regarding the behavior of a particular athlete.  The article in itself was well-written by my very amateur and uncultured standards though it did appear to be quite biased in its reporting, which has become more or less the norm.  However, the style of writing or the discussion of fact-reporting versus opinion-based reporting is not the focus of this post, the focus is on what was found after the article in the comments section.  If you have ever taken a peak at an articles comments and actually read the title of this blog post, then you are likely nodding your head in understanding and anticipation at what I’m about to discuss.  The comment section on websites is the equivalent of the Mos Eisley Spaceport in Star Wars IV – A New Hope in that “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”.

Now, before I completely begin my “opinion” piece, let me just say that not all of the comments or commenters on these websites would be heard or found within the confines of the aforementioned spaceport, but in my experience, a vast majority would.  For instance, comments like “he is a disgrace to common decency and what it is to be an American”, “he is a thug”, and “kid’s a flat out punk” are just a few to describe what these commenters thought of the actions of this particular player who’s only crime was to commit an overly hard foul on another player.  There were certainly more “colorful” comments on the page, but I would prefer not to repeat that type of language here.  Sadly, this is the effect of giving an anonymous voice to the masses with little to no filter on what they say.  Even more disappointing is that the most verbally abusive comments are seldom even related to the article and are instead directed at fellow commenters.  There were the typical elementary school barrages like “your just stupid” followed by the “it is you’re, not your… you’re the stupid one, idiot” though again there were many, many more elaborate and outright hateful remarks left for all the world to see.

So, while running through the list of surprising comments, I was left to ponder exactly why I even bother reading the comments on an article if the section is riddled with such behavior.  Truthfully, I find much of the banter ignorantly humorous, in my own sick and twisted way, plus there are often some very insightful and agreeable comments that can be found as your sort through the trash.  This type of behavior is not isolated to only sports articles but can be found in numerous locations across the internet due in large part to the anonymity that is provided.  Perhaps it is a cultural thing in which we have all become more disconnected due to the fact that technology has advanced to a point where we spend less time participating in face-to-face, personal interactions that we have become more disconnected to humanity as a whole, or it could just be that those who have always needed an outlet to spew forth filth finally have it.  

With all that said, I will continue to browse the comment sections on those websites that actually allow them, though I can understand why some do not, and enjoy the sometimes humorous though often ugly banter among the masses and take note of the hidden gems I find along the way.  Anonymity is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to certain things, as is the case with many of the freedoms that some share.  Now, in my last two exquisite literary creations (ha!) I did not ask the thoughts of others, but given the topic in question and the fact that the comments section is indeed available, I would love to see what your thoughts and experiences (yes, I am speaking to you, my favorite viewer!) are on the subject in question?