I guess for some folks it’s only natural to look to see how many people are following them. After all, it’s nice to feel wanted, to be popular.
I have to admit, though that I rarely look, and even now, without switching tabs and checking , I can’t tell you how many followers I have on any of the Social Media Services to which I subscribe. Rightly or wrongly I seldom look.
But auto-following? Why?
Firstly, I really don’t care who follows me. Well, that’s not quite true. I, like everyone else, like to see friends, family, and those of influence checking into what I have to say. Heck, I might even be able to have some influence myself too, one day, then!
But why do I want to blindly follow you without checking out your content first?
On services such as Twitter and Friendfeed, I get email notifications of new followers. Now, I fully realize that the ‘A’ list members probably couldn’t handle the amount of emails that this generates. However, I am happy to get a couple of dozen or so emails a day with such notifications, and I can go and check them out accordingly.
If you’re posting stuff that I’m interested in, then it’s fine – I’ll follow you. However, if you’re postings consist mainly of links to 13th century Tibetan poetry, then, I’m not interested. (I am not knocking Tibetan poetry here, but it’s an example of something I wouldn’t personally be particularly interested in).
Worse of course, is following those who post nothing but endless self-promotional links. If I meet those kind of people face-to-face would their only conversation be all about their own business, all about themselves, and nothing else? Much as I want to network on a business level as well as a social one, to continually talk about one thing all the time, quickly gets old.
Worse still of course, are the spammers. So far, my own experiences in Social Media Networking have led me to conclude there is a relatively low level of spamming activity. However, and this is my strongest point against auto-following – every time someone has auto-follow set, and they follow a spammer, it gives the spammer more fuel to carry on with their activity. If we were all to NOT auto-follow, then there would be a lot of Spammers, for example on Twitter, that would see their efforts are futile, and would be more likely to give up.
Also, with services like Twitter, following allows Direct Messaging, which gives the spam vermin yet another avenue from which to bug me.
I’d be interested to hear opposing views on this, but until I’ve been convinced otherwise, auto-following on all my services stays firmly off.