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Followers is a term I’ve never been too comfortable with. It implies acceptance of leadership when in fact it’s more like just half assed interestingness. Am I a follower of someone I “follow” on twitter or am I just curios what they might be thinking about. That’s a pretty big difference. And worse is when followers are called “fans” – just because I “follow” someone doesn’t mean I like them, or am their fan, again I might just be curious about their thought process. I don’t have a better term, but this one is no good either. Anyway, this is all something I think about when people talk about influence and attention online. How much influence does having some number of people’s attention translate to? It’s very hard to say.

For example:

I have 38,781 followers on Google+
I have 11,442 followers on Twitter
I have 2,237 followers on Tumblr
I have 510 subscribers to my mailing list
I have 112 subscribers to my podcast

I have other profiles online but you get the point I’m making I hope.

WTF does that mean? Certainly you can’t add those together as inevitably there is some overlap, and while there are certainly some people following on Google+ who aren’t subscribed to my podcast, it’s probably less likely that many of the podcast subscribers aren’t also following on twitter. Is the difference in numbers due to platform adoption or personal messaging? How many people are actually paying attention to any given thing I post? Accepted wisdom is that all those things should reference each other so people can easily find one or the other, but does that build in some redundancy?

I don’t have answers here, just something I was thinking about and wondering what others thoughts are.

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