Going with the flow..without you

Ever wondered how you’d react if a social media practitioner you follow, who also follows you back, suddenly decides to unfollow you; actually, not just you but all their follows as well?

I prefer the term ‘practitioner’ because those of us who’ve become adept with social media actually do practice it, regardless of whether or not we consider ourselves or are perceived by others as gurus, experts, explorers or droolers.

Being unfollowed actually has no significant impact to the more expansive, pervasive value social media brings to my daily experience. But there are some who dump follows and seem compelled to explain why. However, for reasons which ironically have defined why social media totally rocks for me, here are some thoughts on why I think such explanation is simply for naught:

    My Fair Lady
    photo sourced from moviestore.com
  • It’s not about you. Social media is first and foremost about nurturing social interactions that bring value to each other’s experience. This collaborative, almost self-effacing quality is a natural tendency when cultivating good relations and earning trust among complete strangers. So unplugging suddenly only sets you back after all the work you’ve done to date.
  • Dunbar’s number makes high follow ratios look ludicrous. While theoretical, it makes complete sense to me that there exists a limited cognitive threshold, or number of people with whom you can realistically maintain meaningful social interactions on a regular basis. So if you claim to be unable to properly maintain interactions with a multitude, unfollowing all would certainly be one drastic course of action. It’s dramatic—unless of course it was meant to be dramatic.
  • Spam is here and here to stay. Get over it. Whether you like it or not, filtering is a daily chore. If you argue that there’s so much noise on your stream that you’re spending more time sifting through trash rather than tweeting or blogging then perhaps you should have thought twice about subscribing to that auto-follow app that brought in all that crap to begin with. Unplugged or not, spam will continue to invade you elsewhere.
  • Social influence is still a relative science. With all due respect to my trusted colleague Joseph (@RepuTrack), I know he would to an extent agree with me when I say that we are still in the midst of proving that social influence, ranking, etc. can indeed be accurately, justifiably and sustainably measured. If you choose to despair and unfollow all because you suddenly feel that your influence has been negatively affected by slumping ranking based on a relative science, then what are you really despairing about?
  • Twitter still will be here without you.England still will be here without you..♫ (My Fair Lady) There are so many social media practitioners crowding the online space that even the smarmiest who have the brightest (or seemingly bright?) torch held high with laurels of kudos crowning their social media clout can easily *pouff* vanish at any given moment, and yet the stream will continue to gush and roar without care.

Oh but perhaps if you unfollowed everyone all at once..perhaps then you could secure a nano’s moment for someone to actually notice and care enough to blog about it. Eh?

It’s all good, I suppose. We are after all still in that long, drawn-out age of attention, which started back in the 60’s and managed to drag its lumbering, whiney feet into 2009.

For whatever reason, no explanations needed, and no I won’t take it personally, it’s really quite okay to let go…and just go with the flow.

6 thoughts on “Going with the flow..without you

  1. Autom,

    This is a thought provoking post, and one that resonates with me, especially in light of some thoughts I’ve parsed on this day. The first begins with my agreement on the nascent aspects of measuring social influence, and the comment made in response to Marshall Sponder’s post on the need for monitoring vendors to take social influence measurement to the next stage (here’s a link share to my comment).

    The second thought comes from a discussion I had with Mark Schaefer earlier today. Part of our discussion revolved around branded Twitter profiles, and I’ll admit that “standard practice” with branded profiles is one area with which I’ve grappled for some time. Namely, the way logo’s are used as avatars on branded accounts and they way they may be regarded with disdain or less interest than those with a photo of the person behind the profile. Associated to this notion is that brands that don’t put a human face to their profiles are likely the ones that will assume the role of shill marketer or spam-machine.

    I still need to sort this out a little more in my mind, and if I had a choice, I would prefer not to succumb to this blanketing and false impression that follows branded Twitter accounts. In some ways, I consider the amount of followers to date as a testament to the value audiences have placed on my participation on Twitter and in the social Web. Sadly, its nowhere near as tragic as finding out the way overarching rules, conduct and outdated social modality creeps in and forces bloggers such as James Chartrand to hide the truth about their gender to get work. When we read stories like @menwithpens’ we are hit with the sobering reality that we are far from understanding the true value of participation as equals, and have much work ahead of us in figuring out “influence” through social and widespread acceptance rather than commodified and false universality.


  2. Joseph – i appreciate your thoughts on measuring social influence. with so many proposed ways to quantify social media ROI, it seems to me that while each formula stands to justify the logic behind how a given attribute of social media experience can be measured, the mathematical element of the measure is still somehow lacking in its ability to accurately render the intangible benefits of social interaction—at least to the extent that each and every random component of a social media-driven initiative is accounted for clearly and mapped out against the proposed metric..my sense has always been that the measure of social media’s effectiveness will come in the form of a hybridized equation: 1 part numbers, 1 part anecdotal evidence..not all that novel a thought really, but i do commend you when invoking a call to action among peers to take the development of these measures to the next level.

    as for branding, i doubt that there’s an overwhelming majority that find logo-based avatars *that* disdainful. simply because you don’t have a human face to your avatar, it doesn’t mean your level of integrity or authenticity is automatically diminished. in its most basic form, a brand is a symbol. that symbol can be anything from a face to an abstract object. as long as the symbol communicates clearly i see no reason why there should be an imposed requirement to associate that symbol specifically with a human face.

    i was speed reading through the Chartrand post and glanced briefly at the comment stream. i see your sentiment over this but would also like to point out one thing: that she claims to be a good writer. first, she may in fact be a good writer, which is likely why she’s able to tell such a compelling (although somewhat long) tale. second, i somehow fail to see why the main point of her post should be interpreted as an appeal for closer scrutiny over gender discrimination among writers. writers come in all shapes, sizes and styles..i find the thrust of this argument to be incredibly anachronistic, if not slightly misleading. i think the *manner* in which she positioned her plight made it easy for readers to sympathize with her..i think she’s a capable writer. overall it was an easy-to-read piece, but the heavy colloquialism was distracting, and quite frankly i couldn’t get into it..can’t explain it, it’s a visceral reaction to the piece.

    nonetheless..you know i value your thoughts and how you readily and spontaneously share them. thanks again..and thanks for ‘going with the flow’ cheers a

  3. It’s a pity there are people that don’t appreciate what you’ve named “the intangible benefits of social interaction”. I love that sentence. Social influence is still very hard to quantify, so we should not underestimate that kind of benefits.

    I was missing your posts, Autom. Nice one.

  4. Love the My Fair Lady reference! I think mass unfollowing is a huge set back to the community you’ve built up. It’s a two way street and although I do understand the reasoning behind it I think that not making an effort to connect with the people you follow is defeating the purpose of social interaction. Twitter is what you make of it and how you use it and I think an action like that really limits where you can take the platform. Great post Autom!

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