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I just got done chatting with a friend in reference to some rather large circles going around that apparently i'm not in. My friend, who is an admitted amateur photographer, with less followers and doesn't post as much was "In" and his numbers were exploding. So as he was basking in the glory of new found followers he decided to look for me and sure enough.... not there.

The conversation was real funny because he was so apologetic. He couldn't understand... then I really confused him. My reply was simple and only three words.

"Yeah, don't care"

We went back and forth on this for a bit. He didn't get it.... which is precisely why I am sharing this.

Art is relative to the individual. Not everyone likes everything. I sure as heck don't follow everyone and I don't like everything nor... everyone. I follow the people that inspire me, the people I learn from, the people that share things I am interested in the people who have created a relationship with me and become friends. So does it bother me I am not in everyones circles.... nope. Does it bumm me that I don't have a half a million followers like some people that I am very good friends with...? nope.

The fact is... (as I tried to explain it to my friend), is that a fair portion of the folks that follow me, like me for my personality, what I have to say or for my work. I tend to get more replies about what I said or how I said it than my photography anyway. To me the images and the words are intertwined, the story. My interest is the people that look beyond and into things, topics and other people. The relationships.

That's what I am after.

I never was one for being "Popular." The relationships I want to form need substance and meaning. And I get a ton of that from everyone I regularly speak to here... that are my friends.

So whats the point of this message...?

The point folks is that the numbers are meaningless. There isn't a great deal of substance to them. Don't focus on the counter, focus on the people and the relationships you form. There in lies the treasure.

Use the tool to build relationships, friendships, new loves whatever you can dream of. If what you are after is a count, then you are missing the point of a social network.

Its not how many followers you have that measure you, what you share or how you are received. The real measure is how many lives you can touch or be touched by.


#Popularity #Circles #Followers #R3alTim3
Greg Berdan's profile photoSandra Parlow's profile photoDavid Bowden's profile photoMaria Stepanov Sommerfield's profile photo
One of the most awesome things I've ever read on here. Great photo as well. Looking forward to more of both!
Well said! I've enjoyed the works of people I've never met and may never meet if not for G+. Seeing how lame my stuff is it pushes me to improve too.
Im in the same boat. I follow and most dont follow back, much less respond back to my comments.
well, you was in one shared by +Rodney Pike that I added. Though as with all publicly shared circles I only keep 'some' of them, having spent a while 'pruning' the crap out of them, as I often wonder how or why some people end up being in a selected circle.
Numbers don't mean a lot, you got that right! Cream rises, but this churn of G+ hasn't had a chance to settle enough for that to happen yet ;)
+Roger R.H. King Thanks... I really appreciate it. I let my good friend +Amy Gabriel do a sanity check on my post before I shared this one. She never leads me wrong +Heath Patterson It took me over a month to get so much as the word BOO from anyone here. Dont give up, keep sharing and I promise, more will follow... I just did. +ludmillia Jones dont worry about SEO. Because you are on G+ you are indexed automatically and the relevance is higher by virtue of being here. +Donna Jordan thanks... you are always so nice.
+Stephen Smith I agree that this is a great place to meet new people. As far as your shots. Man I like those B&W Trees... and really appreciate your comments. Thanks for following me.
How funny. I totally agree with you on this. It used to bug me to see people repost some of these "You have to follow this circle of photographers" posts and not be in them. Then I started to read some of the completely mindless sycophantic comments they got. I would much rather have genuine responses to my work than have people comment because they think its the thing to do. I have close to 8k followers.... only a few dozzen of them actualy bother to +1 or comment on photos. So I figure I am only missing out on a few thousand more non-interactive people.

I did lose a follower today from this shared circle frenzy. They actually took the time to tell me they were dropping me because I wasn't in the published circles. It was the first time this person ever made a single comment to me. I don't think I'll miss them all that much.
aww i agree with what +Sandra Parlow said... she's spot on.

and you give ME more sanity than I could ever hope to give to you +David Bowden . i'm just tickled that you didn't change a word... because it's perfect.

you inspired me to write a post about praise too. you made me think. you made me write. i really like that about you.

(more please) <3
Agreed! There are few things in life more meaningless than the number of followers one has on G+! That's the wrong metric to optimize for - quality over quantity.
+Amy Gabriel ..... yes dear... my lack of photos has caused me to write more than I normally do. It seems I should write more. Im so glad you approve =]

What a great bunch of replies. +Greg Berdan I tell you what, you may not miss em much, but I have to give props to someone that would at least tell you or give a reason (even if the reason sucks). Being decent to people goes far with me. +Sandra Parlow you always put a smile on my face. Thanks ! +JC Sors brother... i'm convinced we are related =]
+Kathy Binns I appreciate you jumping in here. I will honestly say that I tend to miss a bunch of notifications and when there are too many to get caught up on I have to let em go. I have added 3 folks that had me in from this thread alone... you make #4. Thanks again for jumping in !
Dead right +David Bowden - you put it so well. I have said more than once when seeing people glorifying in their increasing number of followers, that it is quality that counts, not quantity. And I am with all you have said, 100% I am not a photographer but follow a lot of photographers, I love the work of some and comment on it a lot, was not too sure if the comments of a non-p would be acceptable but it seems to be, to some. And I respond to words and sentiments that interest me, and connect on and off with a fair few people worldwide, and more closely with a handful or two and am happy with that.
Hey +Ron Coscorrosa I just saw that you snuck in. Are you in WA..? If so you either have a generator or magic. Most of my friends are frozen. I agree with ya totally. I personally would rather see a bunch of different metrics. The number is meaningless... I am hoping that Google adds some better ways to quantify who to follow from the well of data they keep on all of the posts. I bet Britney Spears drops a bit if they did =]
+David Bowden I actually did have some appreciation for the notice from the guy. Like I said his name didn't ring any bells so he wasn't a key interaction for me.

I don't hawk my numbers too closely anymore since G+ opened to the public. Spammers circle you by the dozens and then Google kills their accounts. You can see a gain of 40 or so one day and have a lower count by that many or more the next morning.
Excellent point +Greg Berdan. +Karin Nelson used to publish this really funny note about who had followed her at every 1000. Sometime ago I asked her why she stopped (she only does it every so often now) and its because its too hard to keep up with. The more that are added each day the more you get. The velocity is exponential actually. The math behind this site is fascinating. Recently someone told Trey he dropped 39,000 in one day. But, he is approaching 1M followers. When you look at the curve its a rounding error and statistically insignificant. However, when I apply some math to his numbers, I figure of the 1M he has almost 3000 that try to interact with him. Some funky numbers.
And to reach sincerely and well, takes time, and not too many of us have all that time. I cannot believe the person who told you +Greg Berdan they were uncircling you because, it seems, you were not in the published circles. What a strange mentality!!!! I love the way a subject like this takes off and gets so many responses, thanks +David Bowden for opening it up, nice to see the views of all concerned.
+David Bowden - I missed the all of the fun in the Puget Sound but made up for it on the southern Oregon coast (80 mph winds!). I'm in Death Valley now - and it was 24 degrees when I woke up in the morning. Only I could go to to the hottest spot in the western hemisphere and freeze my ass off!
Another self portrait David! Is this becoming a trend?

Personally i find most of your topic choices to require some thought before replying…….they are engaging and this one is proof…hell there have been 10+ replies since I started thinking about this one. And before anyone retorts I am not slow!
I don't see how those folks that follow huge numbers can actually engage? I've got precious few and this takes up way too much time as it is. Adding any more would be suicidal!

OH Edit… +patricia murray comments from a non-photographer should be welcomed by any photographer as you will see things from a different perspective.
Hey, +David Bowden I gave some thought to you previous "Question of the day" posts and this dovetails nicely. After some thought, I am revamping my circles to better keep in touch with photographers who are passionate about their and others art. I see now that the numbers game is just that, a game.

The higher the numbers, the less interaction and exchange of ideas. I do not consider myself an artist, but I am artistic and I love interactions with artistic types. Maybe that's why I never added one of these shared circles. I new it would just dam up my trickle of a little photo stream.
Great post -- I couldn't agree more! I've always felt it's the quality of the connections that matter, not the quantity, both in person and online.

Someone told me a few days ago that they couldn't believe I wasn't following certain super popular photographers, because "you really should, you know. So-and-so might notice you and put you in a shared circles, and your numbers will skyrocket!" I can't fathom following someone because it might garner me more followers. I follow people because I enjoy their photography and/or because I have an interest in the things they say. It so happens that some are well-known professionals and others are brand new to photography and excited about developing their first roll of film. Doesn't matter to me -- I appreciate their enthusiasm, their interest in connecting, and our shared love of photography.

As for shared circles, I don't add entire shared circles. (I tried it once, early on, and spent a week gradually sorting out and removing people!) If it's a relatively small circle from someone I really like and respect, and it was obviously chosen very thoughtfully (like the people you have shared, as a good example) then I go through it checking each person, and add those I think I'd like to follow. I'm grateful for these thoughtful recommendations, and at the same time don't feel obligated to add every person that others recommend.
Actually, +David Bowden I only stopped because I thought it was getting a bit long in the tooth. :) You can only tell the same joke so many times before it stops being funny. :)
+Karin Nelson Well you do have a point. Those where some of my favorite posts =] My apologies for recalling the answer incorrectly.It was awhile ago and I'm getting old. +john sanders thanks for coming by and Welcome! +patricia murray I have to agree with Eddy. A non-photographers comments are every bit as valid... if not more. Glad you like the topics. I havent been shooting as much... well ok at all and that gives me time to think and post +Ron Coscorrosa sounds like you have my luck. When I left Seattle and moved back home to Texas (in June) it rained the entire way. 1500 miles of rain. And I thought something along the lines of "Im the only guy in the world that can leave the wettest state in the country and get rained on all the way back to Texas" I feel for ya. +Renee Stewart Jackson Imagine the smile I have on my face. Thanks for that ! +Eddy Rademaker always great to hear from you (waves at Chris) no... the self portraits arent going to become a habit. I just feel that if I am going to post I need an image... so my mug was it. +Tricia McDonald Ward Im glad you liked the topic and I totally agree with your take on it. +Sandra Parlow said it best to me months ago... "Its your G+ Make it what you want" and that has been some great advice. Looks like you and now +Doug Welch are doing the same. Good for you !
I see it !
I said it because it's true. You revealed a very sensitive and caring heart early on +David Bowden . So thank you for that !
Well said and good job keeping your head level and giving your friend some new perspective.
Thank heavens I am a new google+er and didn't even realise it's a numbers game for some. How the heck can anyone interact with 1000's?
David, I was rushed earlier and I've been giving your post some additional thought.

I will admit that when I first started at G+ I had very low expectations. Any other site I'd been to I was very much lost in the crowd. I've never gotten much response to my photos before, and never really made a lot of connections with other people/photographers. I have made a few very good and very dear friends over the years.. but very few.

When things started going nuts here at Google I found it easy to get caught up in the numbers game because I'd never seen anything like it before. I finally felt that I was making connections with people... for the first time.

For me, the numbers were a sign of these connections.

Since that time I have come to revise my thoughts on this. The numbers mean squat. What is important is that I have met REAL people and I am excited about it. I'm a bit of a loner, actually. I spend a fair amount of time alone.... either by choice or by happen stance.. it doesn't really matter... But what I'm finding is that it's so wonderful to finally meet people that I have things in common with. People who sometimes might give a crap if I have something to say. People who want to talk to me as much as I want to talk to them. I am excited to log in every day and see what is going on with all of my friends!!!

Yeah, I was shared in a big circle today but truthfully, I haven't even looked at my numbers to see what happened there... because I don't really care about those numbers any more.

Right now what I care about are the wonderful people I've met. Not one person here has been mean or ugly to me. People lift me up every day. People make me feel like I can achieve things. People help me when I call out for it - whether it's for someone to make me smile, or for someone to teach me how to make my camera accept the new cards I just bought. I have no idea why people do these things - but I'm grateful for it. I've been "on the outside" for a great deal of my life... and I finally feel like I belong.

Every day someone here makes me feel special. EVERY DAY someone reaches out to me.... and I am so grateful for it.

Numbers are just numbers - who cares?? It's people that I am excited about. So a big circle was shared. Nice. But tomorrow we are all going to be the same people we are today. And I'm glad for that. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Hi +Chris Rademaker. I dont think it starts out that way. I think when you start... you just want someone to recognize that hey this person is interesting. Then the numbers start coming and then its a choice. One of my dear friends here follows 93 people. She has over 500K. She doesnt think two things about it. Dont get me wrong she loves the site, but she turns it off. Trys to tend to her stream and interacts when she can. So its interesting. I think everyone goes through it... with some it sticks, with others its not a real huge deal. I will be honest, at first I was thrilled to be accepted. Then I started making friends, I got phone calls, and emails... text messages. Before I knew it I had more friends reaching out to me because of my network than I had ever had in my life. Thats when the switch flipped. I changed my about page (it was too formal and stuffy) I started writing more and enjoyed the people more. This site has been a blessing... I was trying to get my friend to understand. When I was done, he heard me, but it hadn't set in. So, I will give him a bit. He's a smart guy and he will get it. We all get excited when people accept us and our work. It's great hearing from you. I have really enjoyed speaking with Eddy and look forward to hearing more from the both of you.
+Sandra Parlow and this is why you are one of those people to me Sandra. Thanks for that and for the wonderful reply.
+Sandra Parlow I really like what you said here. In the past, I have tried participating in other online places where people share and discuss photography, and I've seen so much negativity and competitiveness and stomping on people's aspirations, and a huge emphasis on divisions between professional and amateur. It's always made me very uncomfortable. Here on G+ I find mutual support and kindness and encouragement. It's truly a wonderful phenomenon!
It reallly is +Tricia McDonald Ward - every day I am blown away by people's kindness and support. It's ... unheard of. What a wonderful treat it is!!
And this is part of why we became friends: "Yeah, don't care." Heh.

Personally, I kind of blame MySpace and it's mentality of "Gotta catch em all" in regards to 'Friends' collection. But then again, that just ended up allowing people that were already prone to popularity contests a vehicle to externalize their need to broadcast how awesome they are. :P
And I definitely agree, Google+, Facebook, Friendster, MySpace etc. have always been a way for me to keep in touch with friends new and old. If you don't like what I have to say, don't dig my pics, or think my friends are asshats, then please keep moving.
I would have to say that I totally agree with you +David Bowden& is pretty much how I operate here and in real life. I'd rather have a FEW real friends that I know and really know me than hundreds of acquaintances that don't. I find the "count" thing fascinating sometimes, sort of like watching the odometer tick over to an even number, but not something that motivates me or what I post or whom I circle. I'd rather have quality in my relationships, than quantity, so I know exactly how you feel. I happen to like you, your commentary & your photography, so that is why I circled you, it had nothing to do with your popularity.
Well i agree with all that you have said it was a very well written post and puts forward what G+ is really all about,well put and well said David.
"The real measure is how many lives you can touch or be touched by." Well said. But any suggestions on what can I do to increase the lives I touch and am touched by?
Great thoughts. I Don't really like the idea of sharing circles, but I do understand the need to offer something to a newcomer to G+ go get the going. It would be nicer is someone couldn't just add the whole group, but be able to go in an look over someone's recommendation and add them one at a time.

The problem with "click here to add these 300 great folks" is that, rather than promoting diversity, it constricts people into "following each other" (I am exaggerating a bit for the sake of the point)

If we don't fight it by exploring for ourselves, we risk becoming the McDonald Fast Food of Google +.

I love having followers, however I got them. I'm going to assume they like my work - but I don't think I will ever share a circle.
+Andrew Powell Man... it is so great seeing you again. Thanks for commenting here Drew. You never disappoint. How is the munchkin..?
Hey +Bryn Forbes Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Its been a busy day. The honest and simple answer is this. It took me about a month to get over 1000 people. I shared, posted and was online a bunch. The goal to seeing more and getting more is the interaction. Above all things, be yourself... share content that you specialize in, know, are proud of... whatever it may be... find your niche and fill it. +Trey Ratcliff does amazing HDR work, +Lotus Carroll is a great photographer... but her niche is her titles.. they pull you in. +Colby Brown is just one of the nicest and most caring photographers you will meet. They all have their thing... that thing sets them apart. +Eric Leslie started themes here and Waterfall Wed is his very own.

So what I am saying is, find something that you can share that is unique or that you offer a different view/take etc on and make it yours. That will get you followers. Share your work, follow people and comment on their work. As you do more of that they will do the same.

It takes a little time. +Thomas Hawk once wrote that its no accident has has the audience here. He spends a ridiculous amount of time online, shares pictures daily, does hangouts etc. So... people follow. His basic message is you get what you put into it.

My slant.. well its simple. I am me.... I tell stories.. about my shots, whats important to me, how I feel etc. I have a background that appeals to techies and artists alike and I am not afraid to show me... I dunno why, but it works.

I could go on forever... but every person I know on G+ that has a following has a thing or an approach that they call their own. If you find that and interact with others it all works itself out.

hope that helps =]
+David Bowden - Well said my friend. The "popularity contest" mind set is destructive for any social network. Google+ is what you make of it and you do that beautifully on a daily basis. If people spent just half of their time online getting to know the followers they currently have, instead of focusing on how many followers they wish they had, they would get 10x more out of this (or any) online network. By doing that they would increase interaction and engagement much more easily then by trying to get a massive number of followers.
Hey +Colby Brown Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the thread. It's always appreciated. I'm glad you don't mind that I use you as an example often. I find a bunch of inspiration from your images and your active role with your charities and projects. Speaking of which we need to talk about the web sites =] Thanks again !
+David Bowden Thanks for the response. No apologies necessary on delay -- that is life, especially when you are connecting with lots of people!
I can see that having a "thing" makes you more focused and thus people who like that focus can find you easier. But what really hit home for me was when you said

"My slant.. well its simple. I am me.... I tell stories.. about my shots, whats important to me, how I feel etc. I have a background that appeals to techies and artists alike and I am not afraid to show me... I dunno why, but it works."

Since I asked about making connections not getting more followers, I can see that really writing about the images allows people to see much more of you than a picture shows. Or perhaps that my pictures aren't telling a good enough story about who I am.

+Colby Brown Thanks for the suggestion focus on the followers. If you're willing could you comment further? I'm the type of guy at a gathering that is sometimes shy about starting conversations, but once I have a reason to be talking to somebody I've no problems. I'm quite social, I just usually think in my head that it's somewhat awkward to begin a conversation ("some weather huh") with someone that may or may not be looking for a conversation. So when you "try to get to know your followers" other than reading their posts and commenting on the ones that compel a response, how do you get the conversations going?

Thanks for your thoughtful replies, you two are clearly showing as well as telling :)
+Bryn Forbes - Well I think part of the answer to your question can be found in what +David Bowden said. Way to many people just try to write or publish what they feel other people want to hear. The problem with this is that more times then not, it comes off trying to hard. +David Bowden , myself and others have learned one of the most valuable lessons for being active in an online network. BEING YOURSELF. In the 80's and 90's it was said in Marketing classes that you had to be all business. Never bring your personal life into your work. That mindset is long gone. While I have a passion for photography, I also have one for travel, technology, humanitarian work, my family, other artistic medians and so on and so forth. Instead of just sharing pretty photos, I talk about what I am compelled to write about. By doing so, I am more engaged in the conversation and care more about the subject matter. When you are first starting out, this can be difficult because you have not invested the time to build a following or more accurately a platform to speak from. To do that, you engage with those that are following you, strike up conversations or join ones in progress (like this), which makes you more visible and gives you more chances to make connections with other people. While the Google Suggested User List is a hot topic with a handful of photographers, the reality is that everyone on that list has a huge following, thus giving you 10x - 500x the potential to engage in conversations that have already started in an attempt to become more visible. I am constantly adding photographers to my circles that I come across randomly in conversations.

Sorry to go off topic, but back to your question. By being yourself, you should feel more comfortable talking about things you are interested in. If you are not interested in the weather, then "some weather huh", is coming to come off like you are disconnected, as you are with that subject matter.
+Bryn Forbes Just to further highlight a point here. You asked and one of the biggest pro's here took a few min out of his work to share. This "giving" is one reason why he has the followers he has.... it's one of the reasons I follow him.

It sounds to me like you are on the right track. Honestly there was a BOOM when G+ started and people that were popular on other sites and systems moved here and had instant followings. Me.... well this is going to sound odd, but I build GIANT web sites for a living (Symantec, Amazon, NASA etc) and never embraced social media. I started on both Twitter and here on August 13, 2011.

So when I got here... it was weeks before anyone even really said Hi. It was kinda of like twitter... CRICKETS for a long time. Then slowly but surely things changed. So... slow and steady. That has worked for me. The more people that relate to my stories or images the more I see jump on and follow.

Be patient.... you communicate well and are sincere. I think this will go far for you. You just have to put in some more time and people will see it.

If you ever need anything just send me a note. Im always happy to help.
Thanks +David Bowden and +Colby Brown My questions are superficially about google+ but also really about the "real world". Connecting with people is what makes life great. so and so followed you or +1'ed your photo gives a quick dopamine hit, but friends and relationships are the foundations of long term happiness. We are quick to focus on that we measure (or at least that idea has been floating around a lot lately) and it's too easy to measure followers and very difficult to measure connections so I've been trying to balance those natural inclinations. Thanks again for taking the time to converse with me!
+Bryn Forbes - You hit the nail on the head. It IS about connections, which is how "being yourself" comes into play. I see many pro photographers using social networks just for marketing rather then trying to get to know their audience. I run multiple photo business and rely on customer and clients to put food on my table. I would be lying if I said that marketing was not a large part of what I do. However the difference is that I am not trying to sell anyone anything, I am trying to build relationships and get to know those that choose to follow me. Through those relationships, there are certainly benefits to my business such as seats filled in my workshops, print sales and contract work. I love connecting with and getting to know people as that gives me inspiration in my own life. By being myself, being honest and taking the time to talk with anyone that wants to talk, I also help my business and in turn don't have to result to attempting to slap people in the face with marketing pitches that are blatantly obvious to a society that is getting more aware of what it is like to be "online".
IMO this is one of the greatest things about Social Media: The possibility of tapping into the collective wisdom (notice I didn't say knowledge) of the internet. This is also a reason to keep your circles as fat or lean as you like them, and seasoning to taste. If you have a question about they way things work, or why something is the way it is, your audience is going to gauge the level of response you'll get in return.
I love that, on Google+, I can ask a question with the end result usually being well thought out and generally helpful.
My Facebook on the other hand is usually for things like lolcats, reddit amusement, and friends/family chat.

I'm not a Photographer, but I agree with +David Bowden, you're on the right track here Bryn. :)
I had to change my "circling back" habits early on. One thing I began to do was categorizing people with common interests and the people who regularly respond to my posts. I started a circle just for the ones who's only connection to me was that they like my photography and frequently responded to it. If they happen produce a subject matter that I am interested in like art work or photography then there's a special circle for them based on their style of work. I found it easier to seek them out, even if they are in multiple circles, based on subject matter or interaction.

That has improved my communicating with others and still allows me to mix up the topics to avoid burnout. One day I can be an art or music lover and not feel like I have to process and post a photo just to have a presence on G+. I have even taken photography circling to different genres. If I am in the mood for B&W work or am looking for abstract inspiration I can sit down, click on the circle and get right to viewing, commenting and find inspiration.

And a big thanks to +David Bowden for starting this conversation. I have added a number of great photographers who responded here to my circles.
You, +Sandra Parlow, are about to get your very own circle.... I shall call it "Time Out".

Neener neener. :P
+Greg Berdan thanks for a great addition to the thread ! I swear +Sandra Parlow has a program that alerts her when you post so she can poke you with a stick. =P
I think so too. I never did nuthin to her. I swear...
LOL!!! HEY!!! He starts it MOST of the time - I just got lucky today!!!
Malarky, I've got a lot in common with Abe Lincoln besides a beard, big nose, and a wart.
hey - he calls me names.... but I digress... back to your regularly scheduled programming.. ;)
+Carmen Garza Strong thanks so much. I'm glad the topic was well received. I was a little worried at first. Inflection is so hard to get from these posts that its hard to predict how they will go over.
I love this post +David Bowden . I feel this way too. I think initially I would get disappointed when I was not included in circles I felt that I should be in, but after a while here I realized there are all sorts of people. There are people who lots of other people like and they are just not my cup of tea. It goes vise versa, there are people who are just not going to find me interesting, and that is okay. There will be (hopefully some) who I click with and those are the ones I am here for anyway. So I think I grew up over the past few months on the whole circling thing.
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