Do You Really ‘Like’ Me? Or Are You Just Touting for Business?

Couple

Do you read every article you ‘Like’?

I ask because I have noticed a number of posts on WordPress suggesting that there are some people (and I hope they are in the minority) who scroll down the WordPress Reader simply clicking the ‘Like’ button, but who never actually visit the blog they are ‘liking.’ So I have started to take note of this phenomenon. Is it really happening? Are there phantom fans out there? Do people really use the ‘Like’ button to drive traffic to their own blog? After all, WordPress’’ advises us that the best way to get traffic is to get to know other bloggers.

Moving to a self-hosted blog, recently, has given me an opportunity to test this theory out, and the results seem to suggest that there is some truth to the rumour.

For example, I have been writing a series of articles looking at grandparents and their role in families. I have only posted the complete articles on my self-hosted blog, with links on my WordPress site. Recently, I posted a new article of almost 2,000 words using my blogging software. This has an option to post the article, and then automatically open the post in my browser so that I can see what it looks like. So, having posted this article, I duly waited for the page to load. Now, my internet connection is not over fibre optic, but it is not slow. As the page loaded, my first ‘Like’ popped up. Hey! I know I`m not a fast reader, but it would take a super-speed reader to get through 2,000 words that quickly.

Therefore, I had to conclude that this blogger had seen my post appear on the WordPress Reader screen and simply clicked ‘Like.’ This was rather disappointing, especially since it was a blogger that I not only follow, but whose work I highly admire.

It struck me that arbitrarily clicking ‘Like’ on lots of posts just to attract traffic to your blog is a bit like a politician voting for everyone else so that he will get elected. Is there not some sort of moral issue here?

Why Is This an Issue?

Why do I worry about this? Like many writers, I enjoy reading widely, and reading through other people’s blogs is an excellent source of inspiration and information. But, trying to keep up with all of the blogs that I follow is not easy. I’m sorry, but I don’t always get to read everything on the blogs I follow.

Yet there is a serious side to ‘Liking’ a post. Consider this: Let’s say that someone posts a rather controversial article. I will not specify any subject because that could sway your judgement in this matter. However, this article flies in the face of everything that you ever stood for. It goes completely contrary to your deeply-held beliefs. In fact, you would be outraged by the very suggestion.

Now, you notice this article in the WordPress Reader. It has a beautiful photograph attached and you really love this photo. So you click ‘Like’ to approve of the photo, but you don’t read the article.

What have you done? You have now agreed with the sentiments expressed in the article. You may even have condoned something illegal. And your next prospective employer could be a fellow blogger who noted that you condoned this activity and he may decide that on the strength of your apparent opinions, you do not qualify for this job. In fact, despite being the best qualified, you do not belong in their company. Believe me, this has happened. A young girl applied for a job and the employer checked out her social network page. She didn’t even get an interview.

What Are You Agreeing With?

My point is that clicking ‘Like’ just to get reciprocal traffic could lead us into trouble. As noted, above, we could be ostensibly agreeing with something that goes directly against our own moral compass. We could even be condoning an illegal act.

That is why I never ‘Like’ a post that I have not read. I have no intention of giving the impression that I approve of something just to get reciprocal traffic.

Also, I will not ‘Like’ a post that contains material which goes against my principles. So, for example, I may highly respect your blog; but if you post an entry about something that I disapprove of, I will not ‘Like’ it. I may comment on it, expressing my disapproval in a tactful way, but I will not ‘Like’ it.

The Value of Commenting

This leads to the question of comments. It is not always possible, or even desirable, to comment on everything a fellow blogger writes. After all, there are only so many ways to say, “Good article.” However, commenting on articles at least tells the author that you have read his or her work, especially if you refer back to something in the article. I’m not always good at this, but Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On is a fine example of it. She regularly comments and her comments always refer to some point in the article. Plus, her comments are always constructive.

Yet, again, because it is so easy to comment from the WordPress Reader, we still need to be careful that our comments are appropriate, rather that just touting for business, as it were.

So, before hitting ‘Like,’ from now on, why not consider your motives. Do you really like this article? Do you honestly agree with what is written in it? Are you only trying to ‘encourage’ a fellow blogger? Or are you just being mercenary in looking for traffic for your own blog?

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42 thoughts on “Do You Really ‘Like’ Me? Or Are You Just Touting for Business?

  1. I see it as a symbiotic relationship, I follow bloggers I enjoy and I hope that out of that group, I will have some reciprocal response – we all blog for different reasons. I always use the ‘like’ function after I’ve read or seen something that I enjoyed and I have sometimes just not liked something, or stopped following someone when I realised that I don’t like their content, and they’re not that interested in mine. I sometimes comment, but on those pages where all the comments say the same thing, it all feels a bit empty. Maybe you should be thankful for lots of likes, although it doesn’t mean everyone read or appreciate what you wrote, it gives other people a sense that your blog is busy. Every bit of activity serves a purpose.
    I also tend to stick with WordPress bloggers because with all the other things I need to get done, I like my blogging networking to be centralised, conducted within a single environment. So if you have your own independent blog, perhaps you could consider putting updates on WordPress so that you’re still attracting your original readers instead of forcing them to change their surfing habits.

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    • Hi Nicola,
      I’ve just noticed that my reply failed to appear, for some reason.
      Thanks for a great response. I, too, only ‘Like’ those posts I have read and agree with. I also try to look at the blogs of everyone who reads mine. I think that’s good manners, at the very least.

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      • That is indeed the best etiquette, but its borne out by longevity. Everyone is at different stages of their blogging IQ, and some will not go beyond if they don’t go out of their way to interact appropriately. Think of them that click and run as a sort of rent-a-crowd, and know that the ones that appreciate you, do and will accumulate.

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  2. Michael, I can only speak for myself, but I tend to read my email first before getting on WordPress. I have about fifteen to twenty favorite blogs, which I adore (yours one of them), that I have set up to instantly email me when there is a new post. This allows me to read them sooner than later. I have missed a lot just trying to keep up with following on the WordPress reader. When I finally do get to WordPress and find myself scrolling through other blogs I follow I then go back and hit the like button on those I read previously, sometimes I comment. I fear that i come off, most of the time, seeming too interested in certain blogs and I worry that I need to space out my comments so I don’t look like a stalker. Haha. Funny, yes, but it is true. Just being honest and clear. You wonder about how quickly people read your posts. I’m one of those speed readers, if truth be told. I come by it naturally and read multiple books, hundreds of articles and blogs in a week. And I worry that I comment and question too much on blogs that I feel feed my interests.

    Phew! That was a lot to type on my Samsung Note this morning. I hope I made sense. I understand your concern. I wouldn’t want anyone following my blog just to gain followship. I didn’t get into blogging for those reasons. I needed to have a place to dump my words and poetry, but more than that I needed to find amazing words to feed my soul. Yours continue to be at the top of a short list. Maybe I should ignore my fears of seeming too intersted and allow my comments to flow. Thanks for giving me something to think about today.

    Blessings today, Michael

    Audrey

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    • Great reply, Audrey. I know that you read regularly because you comment so often. And, no, I don’t feel stalked 🙂

      I know what you mean by being a speed reader, and there are a few about. But even with this post, I had my first ‘Like’ within seconds of it appearing on the Reader. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

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  3. wow, i was almost afraid to ‘like’ this post michael ) thank you for mentioning me, and i am a fast reader, though i do at times, simply like something when i have enjoyed it but do not feel the need to comment or have the time to respond. i simply want the poster to know i’ve stopped by and enjoyed their work. i’m not into liking for the sake of gaining numbers in return, i simply love the human interaction, the connection, that blogging offers. i love to see and read and learn from others, and i hope that they occasionally get something from mine that can resonate with them. i love the comments and i love to comment, just as in conversation. sometimes it is good just to sit back and listen and watch and take it all in. ) beth

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    • See, Beth, I knew you would reply 🙂

      I’m glad that this post has got people thinking, I know how difficult it is to break into a busy day and comment on everything, so I don’t get upset when it doesn’t happen.

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  4. I agree. I’ve gotten so I comment more than I did. I follow a lot of blogs because I enjoy reading and seeing what other folks have to say or even, photos from their area or trips. So….I read, I commented! I wish there were some sort of button that says “I like what you said but the content was sad/scary/enlightening”…oops! I think that’s called “Comment”. I have found many people who blog to promote their books, their businesses, themselves as speakers….I blog because I do want to connect with others, to think I’ve made a difference, to make someone smile, cry, get angry…think! And sometimes, I don’t comment because like the previous comment, I like to just sit, listen, nod…..like!

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  5. Yes, I read your post. I too have wondered about this but not that much. I actually think that perhaps you protest too much…like should we have buttons that mean we REALLY like your post or just like it in an ordinary way or gradations of like? Perhaps something like OMG this is the best post I’ve ever read, LOVE, LIKE, OKAY, and HMM. Sometimes I hit like just because I enjoy a picture but the writing is something that makes my eyes droop. I do agree that shameless trolling is wrong but we’re never going to change that. I too appreciate comments and believe that a like with a comment means that they did more than just quickly glance at the post. After all, we’re bloggers and we don’t post in a vacuum. We all want feedback.

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    • Thanks for a great reply, Kongo. I agree. There are times when liking is all we have time for.

      There is a system for rating available on WordPress, but not many people use it. It’s great tot see how this post has got people thinking.

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  6. i can think of a lot of reasons, but i was wondering if you follow yourself. i mean do you see when your post appears in reader.the other day it said there were 13 more words, so someone may have clicked like , when they went to the page, not seeing that there were really 800 more words , when you click view original & then you have to click that page too.. i know it’s hard to understand what i just said.i have barely slept since last sat.

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    • Hi Raechel.

      First, I’m sorry to heart about your sleep problems. I hope it’s sorted, soon.

      This is a good point that I hadn’t thought of. Because I am having problems posting to the Reader from my self-hosted blog, I have been linking from my WordPress blog, which would actually say something like “13 more words.”

      Yet it still doesn’t explain people liking 2,000 words almost before it hits the Reader; because that’s what happened with that post.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, despite your sleep problems. I greatly appreciate your support.

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  7. Excellent post, Michael — well organized, carefully thought out, and logically reasoned, just what we have grown to expect and admire in your writing. Way to go!

    Ron

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting, David. You’re right. Sometimes commenting seems very difficult. As I said in the article, there are not many ways to say, “Great photo!”

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  8. Good article. I don’t use the Reader, it overwhelms me. I usually initially follow a person who follows me, but not everyone one. After a while, if I really don’t like the writing or a person posts too much, I limit my e-mail access. As for you, I will click like for what I like. As I’m not a parent, I haven’t been reading many of those, but I like your short pieces, your photos. And this was a good article with an interesting discussion.

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    • Hi Skywalker. Yes, It does seem to have stirred up some comment.

      And I don’t mind if someone doesn’t read everything. It means that their ‘Likes’ are genuine.

      I do the same as you: I follow people, then see how often they post and how interesting it is. I think that posting too often can be irritating and it can cause a reduction in quality.

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  9. I definitely think this problem exists. I have seen up to 5 likes on a post that has not yet opened in my reader, and my connection is fairly fast. I have also observed “like” campaigns by certain bloggers, and even “follow” campaigns by popular bloggers. These are very unfortunate practices. I would never dare to put my “blogging signature” there if I did not read the post. I don’t always comment because I want to read many posts when I have the time, but comment when the posts, like this one, evokes thoughts.

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    • Ah Tiny. It’s nice to find someone who does the same as I do. I agree. Read as many as possible, like the ones that impress you, if you agree with what’s being said, and comment on the thought-provokers. It’s a nice balance. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  10. Wonderful, thought-provoking post about so many important blogging issues. I think about these things a lot.

    I’m noticing, right now, that what I’ve written sounds general — that is, it could apply to lots of articles. That’s the way I tend to comment, I guess. I wonder if people can tell that I’ve read what they’ve written?

    I’m also a a really fast reader. So I wonder if people think I’m just “like”ing to get traffic? That’s something I think about, too.

    I also regret that I don’t have more time to read and comment on other people’s posts.

    I’ll end with this: Whenever I read something of yours, I’m grateful.

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    • Thank you, Ann. It’s strange, but I think you get a sense of who reads posts and who just ticks boxes. I also think that most of us are so busy that we all have the problem of finding time to read and comment on every post that we follow. But when you get likes within seconds of posting 2,000 words, you start to get suspicious! Thanks for commenting. You obviously did read the article 🙂

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    • I know, Rita, and I agree that sometimes it is difficult to comment without sounding like I’m just saying, “Nice post.” It’s interesting, but it’s easy to tell who is reading and who is just box ticking. The readers take longer, they often show up after several hours, or even days, and they comment at appropriate moments, often referring back to the article content. You’re one of these. Your schedule is such that your ‘Likes’ appear out of the blue, often several days later. And that’s why they are so much appreciated.

      I think that what I am trying to say is, “Thank your for reading so regularly; and thank for finding the time to comment on this post.” It’s a great encouragement.

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    • I’m not sure it’s just a matter of like-to-comment ratios, Chloe. My point is that it’s hard to understand how anyone can read and assimilate 2,000 words in the time it takes for a post to load in the browser.

      Interestingly, you comment at appropriate moments, usually referring back to the article content, which proves that you do read the articles. And that is very encouraging. Thank you.

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  11. Good points. I think they’re a lot of “phantom fans” out there for sure, as you said. I try to like what I like and what I read, but that’s because it’s too hard to read what I’m not interested in. But your point is marvelous that you might like the wrong thing. I hadn’t thought of that too much before. But, too, as you say, very hard to keep up on all the blogs. I always find myself falling behind. Yet I’d rather be involved than caught up in a fake way.

    Liked by 1 person

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