Engagers over followers

As I scroll through 6 threads on Facebook of bloggers begging for likes and get sent my thousandth Instagram comment offering me 10k new followers, I’m starting to really see how blogging has become a numbers game. I know I’m guilty of getting excited at hitting a Twitter milestone or encouraging people to follow my blog through giveaways, but the more I think about it, the more I think – what’s it all for?

Sure, the bigger following you have, the more chance your content has of being seen. More followers mean that there’s more people that could click the link to your next post. But it doesn’t mean that they will. How do you turn that follower – someone you’ve hopefully piqued an interest in, to engage and become a reader?  Furthermore, how do you engage a reader so that you have an influence on them?

The reason bloggers became influential in the first place is that they appeared to be the ‘girls next door’. The young woman’s best friend. The ones we could trust to give us unbiased advice and who would buy and wear stuff we could easily pick up ourselves.

However, as the bloggersphere has exploded, so has the amount of sponsored posts, gifts and free holidays afforded to those bloggers with the big numbers. Isn’t that an amazing thing? These girls who have (for the majority) worked their arses off are now being rewarded with the most astonishing incentives. It seems that the more exciting opportunities they have, the more their following increases BUT do their ‘readers’ disengage?

What was once aspirational is now unobtainable. The girl who used to squeal in excitement over a Primark skirt that then goes on to sell out, has gained 1 million followers in a couple of years and is now squealing over a week away in Santorini with her new Mulberry bag and is taking away the entire Urban Decay newly released range. Whereas her readers, us, well we’re still in the same jobs, making the same money and still getting excited about the Primark skirt. In my opinion, we are disengaging from those with huge followings in favour of those bloggers who engage us in their lives.

You only have to look at Facebook to see threads upon threads about Instagram like for likes and Twitter follow for follows to see that nearly everyone is playing the numbers game. And why not? We all know that PRs and brands look at a blog’s stats – 1k Bloglovin followers won’t get you to Santorini with your Mulberry bag after all. So why not do what you can to get you on your way to that? Except pay for followers. Nobody likes that shit. Plus when you’ve got 17k followers but your latest photo got less than 200 likes, we all know what you’ve done.

But is a huge following really what you want? Over having readers that are engaged in your life and are influenced by your choices?

But it’s just obvious that a READER is more likely to actually read your review or be inspired by your fashion look to the point where they go and pick up the same product. A FOLLOWER will probably not even bother looking at your blog. So yes, you may have gone on Facebook to find 200 new Instagram accounts to follow in the hope that a portion of them will follow you back. And yes, that may help you hit your next follower milestone, but then what?

There is a VAST difference between readers and followers in my opinion. Followers make up the numbers and the more you have, the more chance there are that your content is going to be seen HOWEVER once your content is seen – how does a follower become a reader?

This is where I believe engagement trumps all. I will regularly flick through Twitter and see tweets from bloggers with followers in the tens of thousands promoting the latest product they’ve been sent or the most recent free holiday they have been on and I will just keep scrolling because I can’t guarantee my trust or interest in that blogger.

In my opinion, I’m not interested in reading about shit I will never afford that has been given to someone for free. IF it’s someone that I’m really not that bothered about. But I WILL stop on Twitter and open a link or picture from a blogger who I really like. Those bloggers that have ‘kept things real’. Yes they might have been given stuff or sent away but they are honest and humble about it. That’s what engages me. It’s aspirational but it’s not gloaty.

So what engages me with a blogger? I can’t particularly articulate it. Maybe they have the same fashion sense I do. Or maybe they do their make up in a way that I know I can achieve at home. Perhaps they share honest facets of their lives – not just the filtered version.

I like bloggers who don’t take themselves too seriously. Ones that will chat to you on social media AND in real life in exactly the same way. Furthermore, I like bloggers who are open about how they work and what they get.

So that’s what engages me with bloggers. But how do we, as bloggers become influential? Once I’m engaged with a blogger, I follow them on all social platforms, I talk to them, I read every post but it takes something else to be influenced by them.

To be influenced, I need to believe they are like me. I need bloggers to get excited by Primark skirts with me. I need to hear their embarrassing life moments and you know what, if they buy a shade of MAC that looks banging on them, I might pick it up thinking it looks banging on me because I like to believe that we’re basically the same person.

Hannah Gale, in my opinion, is Queen at this. She is Regina George (I bought a tropical jumpsuit because I saw Hannah wearing a tropical jumpsuit) without being the uber bitch. Yes she’s gifted stuff and is sent away to exciting places BUT the glossiness which is aspirational is always interspersed with posts on PCOS and spots and feeling bloated which makes her more like us (well me, always bloody bloated).

As bloggers, we can only hope that we gain a following so that we are influential enough to be offered incentives but we need to hold onto who we are as people to remain relatable and just trust that our readers are engaged with us for the ride.

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37 Comments

  1. Samantha Betteridge
    May 28, 2016 / 11:55 am

    I couldn’t agree more with this – and to be honest, you are one of the few blogs I actually read the whole post for. Most of the time, I’m just looking at fancy pictures, flicking or skimming through bits and pieces but not really remembering any of it because I don’t relate to that santorini lifestyle or mulberry handbag (and nor do I want to). I don’t want the celeb life so maybe it doesn’t interest me? Who knows but I do know I’d rather receive a handful of well communicated comments, than I would ‘great post’ for everything xxx

    Sam // http://www.whatiknownow.co.uk

  2. Tessa
    May 28, 2016 / 1:39 pm

    This is all so true, and I’m so glad you actually gave an example of a blogger that excels at doing things ‘the right way’ as I was struggling to think of many so I’m very excited to check out Hannah!

    On the flip side though, there are times that I want to see all the luxury and fancy things that I could never afford, it’s easy to become obsessed with how the other half live! And who shows me that doesn’t really matter as it’s the thing I want to see not necessarily the person doing the thing. I don’t know if that makes any sense haha.

    http://www.hollysparkle.co.uk

  3. ➳ Sophie
    May 28, 2016 / 7:17 pm

    Totally agree with these points! I’d much rather have a small but loyal and interactive readership than huge numbers of followers who ignore me. There are bloggers/YTers who I used to love, and whose content I kept up with religiously, but as their followings grew and they started vlogging (as you say) free holidays etc, I found I related to them less and less, and that made me disengage. The really famous YouTuber whose name begins with a Z is a prime example – I’m happy for her and it’s great that she’s achieved so much, but her channel just doesn’t pique my interest anymore.

    That said, I agree with Tessa in that I do sometimes like to drool over products I’ll never have the money to buy, haha!
    xo

    http://www.milkpop.co.uk

  4. E
    May 28, 2016 / 7:19 pm

    This is such a true post and as a new blog, it was really interesting to read. I completely agree with you on everything you have written about. On occasion, I’ll look at someone’s luxurious holiday just to see if in the future it would be anywhere I could ever afford! Great post!

    http://www.57-days.blogspot.co.uk

  5. SparklesofLight Blog
    May 29, 2016 / 5:36 am

    I am feeling this post 100%
    I’ve found that more and more bloggers are becoming unrelatable and are increasingly just believing their own hype, it makes them too similar to glossy magazines and I stopped reading most of them ages ago.

    Rosy | <a href=http://www.sparklesoflight76.blogspot.co.uk>Sparkles of Light Blog</a>

  6. trona
    May 29, 2016 / 10:14 am

    You’ve really summed up a lot of the same thoughts I’ve been having lately, there’s definitely a sea change happening but exactly what will come of it I don’t know.

    I’d just like to add about the fake followers that you mentioned, you can also purchase fake likes to make it look like your fake followers are real too. So it’s not immediately noticeable until you have a look at who’s actually doing the liking. There’s one person who has 18k on IG and the majority is fake, she’s getting around 300-400 likes on a photo and again the majority is fake, something went wrong with fake likes the other week and the real amount started showing on her posts around 30-90 likes per post for a supposed 18k!! (sorry I went on a bit there, it does my head in!).

  7. Fii
    May 29, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    BASICALLY YOU’VE NAILED MY EXACT THOUGHTS. I like looking at luxury bloggers blogs too, but I’ve always had an interest in luxury fashion. I definitely agree that many have grafted and are now reaping the rewards but it’s like flicking through a bunch of carbon-copy vogues that favour press releases over reviews. HM. Also yes Hannah Gale is queen.

  8. May 29, 2016 / 4:25 pm

    Yaaaaas!
    Totally agree with EVERYTHING you’ve just said! Give me authentic stories and content over shit half heartedly wrote cause someone gave you something for free.
    & Hannah fake is deffo queen ?
    – Arora xx
    http://www.aroraappleby.com

  9. May 29, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    Yes this! Such an interesting read Vix, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hannah Gale. I watch all of her vlogs because I really do feel like I’d like her if I met her in the local pub, whereas Tanya Burr, Gabriella etc just seem like celebs to me and thus unattainable. (I also bought a dress because Hannah Gale bought it and I’ve actually never even worn it!) xxx

  10. Sarah, Things Sarah Loves
    May 29, 2016 / 4:34 pm

    YES!! I feel exactly the same way. I’ve stopped following so many bloggers because reading about their free trips etc doesn’t interest me at all. The bloggers I love are bloggers I feel I can relate to and I’d rather watch a vlog of someone spending a day at home playing The Sims, than I would watching one jet around the world on another sponsored trip.

    Sarah x
    http://www.thingssarahloves.co.uk

  11. May 29, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    Amazing post lovely and I am tired of seeing people boast about meeting their next milestone on whatever social media platform they use when you look, you find they are clearly not real followers because it doesn’t sit in tune with anything else they are on! How can someone have 30k plus bloglovin followers yet less than 2k on Instagram and the same on Twitter, nothing says ‘I bought them’ more than that does.

  12. May 29, 2016 / 5:02 pm

    Totally agree! I am obsessed with Hannah Gale’s blog, I could read her posts and watch her YouTube vids all day long – and that’s because she’s relatable as you say!

    Like your blog, her writing is honest, real and written how I would imagine her to speak.

    Any recommendations of similar bloggers would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    http://www.numbertwentysix.co.uk

    Kirst xo.

  13. Caroline
    May 29, 2016 / 8:45 pm

    Love Love Love this and can relate to your thoughts entirely!
    I have unfollowed quite a few bloggers that, I’m sure it’s great for them for their holidays, bays, makeup and fashion, however, are they aware their target market has changed? Us, the people they left behind in Primark are, as you and have are feeling unrelated. They may look great, but my saturdays are still spent in Primark, Boohoo and Forever21 just like theirs were.
    As you say, it’s difficult to say the bloggers, blogs you can relate too, but it is probably more about their style and thinking that you could actually have a proper conversation with them.

    Caroline.x
    http://www.notesfromcaroline.com

  14. Laura
    May 29, 2016 / 9:52 pm

    This post gives me all the feels! There are bloggers that I’ve followed as they worked hard and grew their following and when I’ve seen them get press trips for the first time I feel genuinely delighted for them. At the same time though I didn’t follow most of these girls because they were travel bloggers, it was because I liked all their lifestyle and general musings. If suddenly a blog goes from a mix of beauty and fashion and homely recipes to that person covering a holiday to Paris one week, Santorini the next then off somewhere else the following week I have to admit I start to disengage a bit. I get how opportunities must be hard to turn down, but still as a reader I start to feel less like I can relate to them. Once in a while mixed in with everything else is usually great though! It’s such a tough thing to balance, Hannah defo nails it!

    Laura xx | http://www.lovedbylaura.com

  15. Eli Dumas
    May 30, 2016 / 9:28 am

    I am a reader, thanks for sharing this post. I am one of those who got sucked in the numbers and thought that growing my followers would mean that I was being a successful blogger but I realized that not one was commenting or interacting with me on social media so I went back to blogging for fun and not making a fuss about numbers. It’s a hobby that has helped me gain confidence and make a few blogger friends along the way. I am very proud of myself for having been able to maintain my blog for almost 3 years and that’s all that matters to me at this time.

  16. Amy
    May 30, 2016 / 1:37 pm

    I loved everything about this post. Engagement > stats and it’s always sad when a blog you’ve enjoyed in the past goes down that route. I think it’s easy to get caught up in stats from time to time but when it gets in the way of actually engaging with your audience I think it’s time to have a rethink.

    Amy | <a href="http://fourcatsplusus.co.uk">fourcatsplusus.co.uk</a&gt;

  17. sara
    May 30, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    I actually came across this post after a blogger I love commented underneath it. So it just goes to show those bloggers we do invest our time in and read their posts, social media statuses etc, can even influence us into reading totally new blogs too! I bloody loved this post, its a breath of fresh air!!!

    http://www.simplysara.co.uk

    xox

  18. May 30, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    Great post….really sums up how I’m feeling about blogging in general! It’s hard to strike a balance when you feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses in order to have your blog feel relevant and fit in, in the hopes of attracting new followers. Blogging isn’t what it used to be and it’s easy to get swept up in thinking you have to emulate more popular blog styles, content and aesthetic. This post serves as an excellent reminder to keep it true to you! x

    <b>Lorna</b> | <a href="http://www.lornaliterally.com">Lorna, literally.</a>

  19. Tamzin
    May 30, 2016 / 4:36 pm

    I love this. So many blogs I’ve become disinterested in as they’ve lost themselves. I like quirkiness and personality. If you write a crap post I’ll loose interest! x

  20. Heather
    May 30, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    I loved reading this post. For two years blogging has been a huge part of my life and day to day routine, but recently I feel as though there is a massive shift in the purpose behind the content. Blogging has become a popularity contest and we’re no longer content with what we’re creating and who we’re collaborating with, whether that be brands or fellow bloggers. There are countless giveaways trying to increase xyz blogger’s follower count, but if nobody is actually engaging with the content, what’s the actual point?

    Definitely a lot to consider!

    Heather, <a href="http://www.porcelainbeautyx.com/">Porcelain Beauty</a> xx

  21. marie
    May 30, 2016 / 5:40 pm

    I would have not agree more ! I don’t really follow or have an interest in blogger/ youtubeur that have followers by thousands as I found it hard to trust them, especially when they’ve been gifted very expensive items or luxurious holiday ! I just simply don’t relate to them at all…I much prefer following someone that is somewhat just like me. Great post!

    http://allornothing-blog.blogspot.co.uk/

  22. Lauren Aitchison
    May 30, 2016 / 5:51 pm

    Loved this post (as per usual). There are some women whose blogs I read for years and then I realised that every outfit post they did had evolved into head-to-toe designer gear. That’s not aspirational to me, it’s just bland. There were loads of people on twitter recently talking about this and I understand if bloggers want to spend their money on designer bags (and some I still follow do this, but balance it with ‘normal’ purchases). Last month my face powder burst in my makeup bag and I couldn’t even afford to replace that so went with a big, shiny face the rest of the month, so I found it really amusing that all these people on Twitter were talking about how I should aspire to buy designer clothes!

  23. SarahF.
    May 31, 2016 / 7:22 am

    Great post. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve tweeted one of the huge bloggers, partly because it’s like tweeting a vacuum – they’re never going to see it, let alone respond – and partly because I just don’t relate to them. And yup, Hannah Gale wins!

  24. A Forte For Fashion
    May 31, 2016 / 10:33 am

    sooooo feeling you on this.

    and from a work perspective, brads are looking more and more at influence not numbers!

  25. Stephanie Hartley
    May 31, 2016 / 2:13 pm

    I’ve followed you for forever on twitter (#vixswipes is my absolute fave), and hadn’t even realised I didn’t follow your blog until now …. whoops! I really loved this post – it’s made me think way more about what I want to get out of blogging, and how I can stay in touch with my followers and readers

    Steph – http://www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

  26. Yasmina
    May 31, 2016 / 8:24 pm

    I completely understand your feelings on this. Engagements is much more valuable than followers because they are the ones who take the time out to communicate with you rather than just an added number on the social media site.

    Yasmina | <a href="http://julyjournal.com">The July Journal</a>

  27. Kiersten C
    June 1, 2016 / 12:54 pm

    I am like that too. I like that girl next door kind of blogger. I’m more likely to comment on their posts. I usually scroll past posts that involve high end makeup and I rarely enter giveaways.
    <a href="http://autumncountrygirl15krc.blogspot.com/">Kiersten @ Autumn Country Girl</a>

  28. Zoe Newlove
    June 1, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    Really loved this post – especially because I have literally had no time to blog since moving abroad, and I miss creating the fun content, the stuff that matters to me, because all I have time for – is the sponsored stuff, because you know, that pays the bills. I need to make time for the stuff that matters, the stuff that got me into blogging in the first place. I love Hannah G. She is blogging goals.

    P.S I don’t rate following over content. never have done, never will.

    x
    x

    <a href="http://www.zoenewlove.com&quot; title="Zoe Newlove Beauty Blogger & MUA">Zoe Newlove Beauty Blogger & MUA</a>

  29. Elisabeth Hayes
    June 1, 2016 / 7:06 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post! It can be exciting to watch your number of followers grow, but when they are actually engaged in your work is the most gratifying!

    xo, Liz
    http://lipstickandconfetti.com

  30. June 4, 2016 / 5:27 am

    This was a great read so thanks for posting this. You’re spot on in readers vs followers. While the numbers game is just a game afterall it is more fun to have readers who you can actually talk to and interact with. (:

    Single Vegas Girl
    http://singlevegasgirl.blogspot.com/

  31. Nina
    June 4, 2016 / 8:27 am

    This is interesting. It’s a bit like when a band make a gritty first album about growing up in their home town. Everyone relates to it and it becomes hugely successful. They spend the next year jetting around the world and they no longer have the experiences which originally made them so appealing. Cue crap but still successful second album! Not entirely sure what I’m getting at here. I guess blogging is on that difficult second album…

  32. Holly
    June 12, 2016 / 4:41 pm

    I’d much rather be able to engage with a blogger and get that sense of excitement when they like or even reply to a tweet, it makes them seem more human and relatable. And yep, I agree that Hannah is the perfect embodiment of that. Then again, so are you 😉 x

  33. Katie Burroughs
    June 13, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    Thankyou SO much for this! Honestly so, so interesting to read & really grounding.

    Katie // <a href="www.wordsbykatie.com">Words By Katie</a>

  34. Leigh at Fashion Du Jour LDN
    June 13, 2016 / 6:44 pm

    This is JUST what I needed to read – a bit of reality! It takes real work to build a following, bit just on social media but on your blog and THAT is down to being relatable and honest. Not growing to 6,000 followers overnight with a million bought followers, likes and comments :/ sure those blogs get attention due to numbers, but looking at the engagement on their actual blog, even looking at their DA…can be very revealing and also reassuring to the so called "little guy".

    Also we are have the ethos of being "aspirationally attainable" here on our blog. We want what we show to be easily affordable and in reach, but can make you look/feel amazing. We are honest about anything we feature or review, because we want the same from blogs. We don’t want to waste people’s time or money and we hope that our voice is engaging and will pay off with those that do click through to our space on the internet!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Leigh at Fashion Du Jour LDN HQ x
    http://www.fashiondujour.co.uk

  35. Brittany Lockwood
    June 24, 2016 / 9:21 am

    There are SO many bloggers that I used to follow who I can’t stand now. It’s all fortune and fame for them and they aren’t a real person anymore. I love connecting with those who I feel like I could be friends with in person, not those who I would never have the chance to meet. This post is spot on!

  36. July 2, 2016 / 1:57 pm

    Ah Vix this literally sums up my attitude towards ‘bigger’ bloggers right now. I’m a student so I want to hear about good inexpensive makeup and clothes, not designer stuff and holidays I could never afford.

  37. July 2, 2016 / 6:01 pm

    I tried to comment on this WEEKS ago and it deleted itself, but I’ve ended up reading your whole post again because it’s rad and thought I’d have another go!

    THIS is the meaning, for me, of blogging. To be part of a community, and to share a real part of yourself in all your bloated glory. I could not agree with you more that there is pretty much no use in having tonnes of followers across all your various social media accounts if they never actually visit your blog, or comment on your Insta photos (though I must admit that that’s something I’m fairly dreadful at doing myself – must make an effort to do more!). Numbers may look great to begin with, but you can always tell who’s cheating or winning at the numbers game without producing great content and targeting the right audience for them.

    I’m pretty new to the whole blogging game, so my numbers look pretty rubbish most of the time. But I’ve noticed that, in quite a short space of time, the same few faces keep popping up again and again, and sharing me with their followers. And I’d rather have 5 people read what I write and go HELL YES that 500 glance at it, go ‘meh’ and then straight off to the next. Also, I LOVE HANNAH GALE.

    I’m rambling now. Thanks for writing out exactly how I feel about a thousand times more eloquently than I ever could!

    Rebecca xx
    http://www.thestyleshake.com