Chances are that if you’ve been on WordPress for a few weeks, you’ve come across one form of serial liker. We’ll talk briefly about that, but the focus of this post will be on a type of serial liker that flies under the radar.
The obvious type I’ll refer to as the rapid-fire liker. You’ll get 20 notifications within 2 seconds that someone has mass liked 20 or more of your posts. There’s no possible way they could have read 20 posts in 2 seconds. Presumably, they think that by hijacking your notifications, you will be curious enough that you’ll click on over to their site.
I can’t imagine this ever works, though; all it’s likely to do is annoy people. So why do people keep doing it? I honestly have no idea.
Now, on to the subtle type of serial liker. Not too long ago, WordPress added the feature that when you hover over the like button, there will be a little popup that shows who’s already liked the post. I didn’t like it then and don’t like it now; it just feeds into the whole comparing yourself to others trap.
However, it also makes the subtle serial liker more visible. Sometimes I’ll search through a few mental health-related tags in the WordPress Reader looking for new mental health blogs to follow. I’m not actually reading posts on these expeditions, I’m just following blogs that write about things that interest me so I can read them later when their posts show up in my feed. As a result, I’m moving along pretty quickly. While doing this, I started noticing that there were a few people liking A LOT of posts under these tags. Not that many people were doing this, but once I noticed, it was hard to ignore, and it triggered my inner Nancy Drew.
There’s no way to know for sure how many of these people are actually reading all of these posts, but given the numbers for some of them, there’s no way that they’re reading all of them. Some people genuinely do read a lot, and are truly active in the blogging community, but presumably at least some of these people are serial likers who, at least some of the time, are liking without reading.
This produces some interesting patterns that can be seen on small blogs, particularly those with under 10 followers. For most of us, only a fraction of our followers read and like each post. That’s a very normal experience. But sometimes, I see blogs with perhaps 2 or 3 followers get around 10 likes on a few posts here and there, but almost none on most of their other posts. That’s not a “normal” pattern. There also seems to be a pattern of no comments.
So, who are the serial likers? In many cases, they seem to be people with fairly high (and in some cases very high) follower numbers. Like I already mentioned, it’s impossible to know who’s reading and who’s not, but from what I’ve seen, I would guess the group that doesn’t read is relatively small.
One mental health blogger I recognized caught my eye several times, and on one occasion, I noticed that they liked almost all of the posts under the depression tag in a 17 hour period. Depression’s a popular tag, and 17 hours is a whole lotta posts.
What’s the point of this kind of serial liking? My guess is that it’s a growth strategy, and it appears to be a fairly effective one. New bloggers in particular are probably more likely to visit the blog of someone who’s liking their posts.
This probably bugs me more than the rapid-fire likers. Rapid-fire likers are easy to spot and write off as being spammy. On the other hand, it’s hard for someone to recognize subtle serial likers without some detective work. It really doesn’t matter if people are serial liking my posts, but the part I don’t like is that it can send a misleading message to newer/smaller bloggers.
Now, it’s possible that my interpretation is full of crap; it’s hard to say. It’s certainly not the kind of thing that would have been easily noticeable before WordPress brought in the new likes feature.
I know that some people don’t see likes as being at all meaningful because of things like this,. However, I think it can be a genuine form of appreciation for other bloggers (at least that’s how I use it), and it’s unfortunate that there are people who misuse it.
Have you ever noticed this kind of pattern?
And on a side note that’s not particularly related, I’m curious about whether people “like” their own blog posts. I know some people do this, but I’ve never been able to figure out why. It’s not that I think there’s anything the least bit wrong with it; I just can’t figure out what it would accomplish. Can anyone enlighten me?