Why I Got Rid Of Google Friend Connect

Look to the right of my blog. If you are reading this from a feedreader, well, what I am saying has little point. Do you notice what is missing? I bet you do, because you read the title of this post and are, therefore, not an idiot. I removed the Google Friend Connect widget.

I had said privately, way back when, that I would get rid of it as soon as I hit 700 followers, as I had something to prove to myself. I hit 700, but still did not get rid of the widget. I was entraced by the numbers. I got excited over seeing them rise after a contest, or a particularly well done post. However, whenever I lost a follower, I would feel really anxious and wonder what on earth I had done wrong (aside from being late to ship out prizes and such).

The other day, I had sort of an epiphany. I was on twitter, and someone was bragging about hitting 1000 followers on their blog. I checked out the blog, and was not impressed. I mean, with meme after meme, a hard to read font color, I didn’t get it. Then, I saw some contests going on. I’ve seen this phenomenon with other blogs too, which again, I just don’t get. Duh, of course when you have a contest every day for a month and make people follow you just to enter the contest, you will have a ton of followers. Your content still sucks though. I know, I know I’m being mean. But really, I’ve had contests where I have made people follow and gained at least 100 followers. Are they following for my content? Doubtful. Will I ever hear from them again? Doubtful.

So to me, it almost seems like the numbers game is pointless. I mean, look at two of the best blogs out there, Angieville and The Crooked Shelf. Both have less than 1000 followers, but post consistently better quality content than some blogs with over 1000 followers. I know quality is subjective, but come on when your only posts are memes and contests, that’s not quality.

I don’t want you to think I feel that way about all blogs with large followings. Some are excellent, and I love them to pieces i.e. Presenting Lenore, The Story Siren, Pop Culture Junkie, Steph Su Reads, etc.

I also don’t want anyone under the impression that I am jealous of not having 1000 followers. I’m really not. The numbers game is not all that hard to play. However, it takes finesse and skills to organically grow your blog. It takes a bit more to have lively conversations in your comments than it does to give a $10 book away and require people to follow. Or to give the book away during one of those crazy blog contest spree days where 100s of blogs give away books.

I am done playing the numbers game. Finished. I am more than my number counts. You, friend, are more than just another digit to boost my followers.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I admit to being caught up in this game, mostly before I knew any better. I used to have people follow the site for contests because I thought it was a way for people to give back for the prize offered, THEN I realised that I lost followers when the contest was over and realisitically, how many of these people are interested in what I have to say as opposed to a freebie? So I learnt my lesson and would now prefer to gain followers because they like my blog and what I have to say. Thanks for an informative post which probably illustrates what a lot of people are already thinking.

  2. Excellent post. I add blogs to GFC if i have to for a contest…but I don’t USE it for anything. If I love a blog, I add it to my feed, add the person on twitter, and add them as a bookmark. I actually comment on their blogs and read what hey have to say.

    I have seen posts in contests that say things like “without the numbers on GFC, i wouldn’t be able to offer these contests”. Really? I know people who have less numbers there than you, but have tons of contacts at the publishing houses because of their quality.

    Glad to see I am not the only one!

    • I do know some people without GFC who have great pub contacts i.e. Pam at Bookalicious and The Book Smugglers. However, they also get a ton of hits.

      Also, I love that excuse. Actually one can offer a contest without numbers by simply paying for the book themselves.

  3. Woot!! I am more than just a number!! lol.

    Great post, April. You always have some really good thought-provoking posts. I really like your blog, more than some with more than 1000 followers.

    I admit I used to have contests requiring followers, but for my last two (including the one going on now), I have it as an option. If someone wants to follow, so be it 🙂

    Thanks for making the blogging world a better place 😀

  4. I’ve never really understood Friends Connect as a measure of anything myself. I gather that some people use it to read blogs, but I think that using Feed Readers is much more prevalent, although perhaps in the YA book blogging realm Friends Connect has more cache than in other areas. Once or twice I ‘followed’ someone’s blog on Friends Connect for a contest, but I can say 100% that my follow was meaningless, because I have never in my life read blogs that way. If I was impressed by their content I would have added them to my feed reader anyway and if not? Just another ‘follower’ who would infrequently, if ever, be back.

    • I don’t see a whole lot of adult/non-YA niche blogs focusing on GFC or upping followers. It’s interesting that it’s so huge in YA, I wonder if that’s because there is a younger audience.

  5. This was a very useful post. I just started my book blog, and I’ve been trying to find which things work and which ones I should abandon. I’ve had mixed feelings about GFC. You’ve helped me make decision.

    I’ve not stumbled across your blog before, but I’ll be coming back.


  6. Great decision & I think you are right about some blogs. But remember some of us will follow you no matter what!

  7. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting rid of mine. I don’t have a lot of followers and it gets depressing to watch it not grow. But I also don’t do contests and I rarely do memes, though when i do, that is when I get my biggest hits. It is frustrating to see not so great blogs with tons of followers. Or a new blog that already has 500. Though i rarely do YA books and that makes a difference. So maybe I will get rid of mine and stop torturing myself. Good for you for doing it.

    • I know exactly how hard that is, especially when you put your blood, sweat and tears in your blog and it seems as though it is for nothing. However, I think as long as you are putting quality content out there, you’ll build an audience, and a loyal audience is better than a transient one.

  8. AMEN AMEN. I’m quite happy with how I’ve organically grown my blog. I’ve done maybe 3 giveaways on each blog since starting in June. I’m not sure that I ever required a follow. I think maybe for the first one ever but it didn’t get that many entrants anyways bc we were soo new.

    I totally watch my blog numbers and get all anxious as you’ve said but at the end of the day I am more pleased with the interaction that goes on. When you have 2x the amount of followers than I do and all you hear is crickets on your blog, I’ll definitely feel like I’m doing something right in my mind. But I guess it goes back to your overall goals and reasons for blogging. If you are solely doing it for the numbers..then congrats..you have succeeded!

    • You should be incredibly pleased. You put out fab content and your thumbs up thumbs down always has me stopping by at least 3 times, once to read, and twice to refresh the comments.

  9. I compeltely agree. I don’t want 1,000 followers who don’t actually follow my blog. I feel like my followers have grown as my ability as a blogger has grown. I also know that there are many blogs I don’t “follow” but that I have in my Google Reader that I read every day. I’d rather have good comments than followers for sure.

  10. Girl, I’m so with you on the numbers game. I see a lot of newbie bloggers with way more followers than I have, and I’ve been consistently posting for over a year.

    It took some time to realize that I have an awesome following, truly. While smaller than a lot of blogs, my followers are active participants, and those are the ones I want anyway. I want people that enjoy the content I produce, you know?

    Great choice in getting rid of it, April 🙂

    • It sucks, really it does. Also, I think because you are so friendly that really attracts people to your blog. Who cares that you aren’t tossing free stuff at people left and right. People stop by because you rock, Melissa.

  11. Great post, April!

    I’ll admit that when I first started my blog I required a follow for the first contests I held, but like you the people who followed weren’t of any real consequence. They followed and never came back. Most of the followers I’ve found who comment and interact with me I’ve found through other blogs or in other ways.

    When I stopped obsessing about followers, I began to enjoy my blog a lot more. I only wish everyone did this, as it really irks me when people leave generic comments promoting their blog on my blog. Sure, they may have 1k followers, but they’ve concentrated on gaining followers, and not on growing the content on their blog.

  12. Good for you! I keep my GFC up because I know some people who don’t know how to use Google Reader and who only know how to follow and read blogs in their blogger home page. But the numbers on there aren’t important to me. I prefer to look at my subscribers rather than “followers,” especially since I don’t use the following system myself. I like seeing my numbers slowly grow through time as people I don’t even know find me. For me it’s not a number contest or anything like that, just a sort of indicator if things are going well or if I should change things up. Numbers vary so much from blog to blog that I don’t like the idea of cross-comparing them, you know? I’m glad to have gotten away from all that, and I hope you find the transition easy for you too. 🙂

    • I actually am finding the transition quite easy! I am enjoying not worrying so much about numbers, although I do check sitemeter and my stats religiously. However, I think those numbers are a bit less arbitrary than followers.

  13. BLAM! Preach IT!

    I have never nor could I ever understand people’s fixation with follower numbers. I might sound like a total witch with a capital B, but I don’t blog because I want people to follow me. I’m not a sheep and I don’t expect other people to be. I don’t care if people don’t follow my blog. I DO care that people would respect my opinion and hell, maybe even share theirs with me.

    I never look at how many follower’s people have on their blogs, but I just did now before I cam here to make my point. And my point is this – the majority of blogs I read have under 300 followers. And you know what? they totally rock my socks. Because they have what a lot of people don’t; they have passion. They do this not because they want to be “the next big thing”. They do it because they love books and want to share their thought’s with those of us who want to listen. They do it not because they see it as a platform to get ahead in some way, but because they truly GET why books are amazing. The want to interact with you (like you April, I never feel like i’m JUST a follower), they spark interesting discussions and take the time to actaully read and listen to your opinion if you leave a comment.

    And like you said, there are some amazing blogs out there that deserve the amount of followers they have. They deserve them because of the time and effort they put into their content is phenomenal. I would never presume to be better than any other blog out there because I know i’m not. But I have my morals, I value my own opinion, I understand that not everyone is going to understand my random way of thinking or like the way my thoughts spill onto my blog, but atleast I blog with dignity. This isn’t a popularity contest. This is real life and who cares how many followers you have? because I am thinking if you judge yourself worth and your blogging worth on how many followers you have then it is a sad day indeed.

    p.s BRAVO and lots of love to you.

    • I LOVE this entire comment.Like, I would click like for it if I could.

      I think passion is the most important thing a blogger can have and is the thing I look for among blogs that I read.

      Also, if you don’t have your integrity, what do you have?

  14. One of the things that I love about Google Friend Connect and why i wish more blogs had a follower widget…. is not because it’s counts your ‘followers’ but because when i follow a blog it shows when that blogs has a new post on the homepage of blogger. that is what i use for my ‘reader.’ i don’t use google reader anymore because i was so very bad about checking it. but i sign into my blogger homepage almost every day and i have a chance scroll through my list of followed blogs every day. i know that is lazy reasoning on my part… but i just wanted to point out that there is at least one good thing about that widget.

    BUT i’m glad that getting rid of it has liberated you! i think too many bloggers focus on a number as a sign of success. it’s not. there could be three hundred people that read your blog, but don’t follow it! it’s easy to focus on numbers… been there done that myself, but i always just remind myself of the reason i started blogging, and it wasn’t to get followers.

    • I think there is a way to follow through blogger dashboard without using the widget, but don’t quote me on that.

      I like the point that you make about there being good things, there really are some advantages, like the ease of subscribing!

      For me, personally, the cons outweighed the pros.

  15. Great post! You know, I really don’t look at the number of followers when I decide to come back to a blog. I look at what the blogger is actually posting and writing.

    In the beginning, I made people follow my blog for my giveaways. I was new and that is what other blogs did so I thought that was the way it worked. Now I know better. If someone wants to follow, great, but I sure don’t make them.

    If I look at my stats, I see that I have lots of new visitors every day. My goal is to get them to come back again because they want to come back – not because they clicked on a button that was required for a giveaway.

    You rock!

  16. Fantastic post! Those are some great points that you made, and I agree with so many of them.

    I’m kind of in the opposite boat – I just added GFC to my sidebar, even though I’ve been opposed to doing so for a while. (I hate having too much clutter!) I think a lot of the drive I’ve seen on other blogs for “more followers at any cost” seems a bit desperate and sad. Also, I only have a little less than 20 followers, so it’s not that much to brag about, I guess. Setting up constant contests and giveaways in order to garner more followers never seemed that important to me. If you blog consistently and well, your readers will naturally follow.

    The thing that changed my mind was getting a few e-mails from people asking me to add it, because they wanted to easily follow me, but didn’t have the tech savvy to set up a feed reader, or manually follow. Having the GFC widget there makes it easy for them to just click and go.

    Ultimately, I’m blogging for myself. It’s nice to have people see and appreciate my blog, of course, and I don’t want to put any barriers in their way to doing so. I’ll just have to make sure not to put too much focus on the “number”

  17. I haven’t had any contests , so I am content in knowing that at least most of my followers are genuine readers, but this post has made me realise why do we add the “Must follow” in contests? It has me contemplating if I will even add that for my first contest because your right, it is unfair. I don’t think I could get rid of mine, I rely hugely on mine to see all the bloggers updates on new posts,but I am glad that this has worked for you. Thanks for writing such a great and honest post 🙂

  18. I really like what your saying here. I hate when I have to follow someone to enter a giveaway. I mean I love giveaways who doesn’t books in the mail it’s awesome. Having said that if I visit a blog due to a giveaway I love it when it says following is not required but I would love it if you did or look around and if you want to then follow. That right there makes me want to follow and often I will click to follow just because they are so cool about it.

    I only have 4 followers and I’m shocked about having any at all. It’s nice to have but if you can’t get followers because of content then you don’t really have followers no giveaway rule will change that.

  19. I think another thing people should look at when looking at numbers is how long the blog has been around. I’ve been book blogging nearly 3 years now (as have some of the other high quality/high follower count blogs) and it takes TIME to build an audience.

    I think sometimes new bloggers get caught up in the numbers game and want followers immediately. But like anything – you have to earn it!

    And never fear new blogs that offer quality content – keep posting and your audience will find you. And they’ll be there long after the “flash in the pan/meme/follower contest” blogs are long dead.

  20. Glad to see this. I am one who has only ever used GFC to enter contests. My blog isn’t on blogspot, and I don’t use their feed thing to keep track of blogs. If I really want to keep track of a blog, I subscribe to the RSS, and I have a couple that I even subscribe to via email (but only a couple.. I get enough email!) So, my “follow” would always be meaningless.

    Actually, these days I find most blog posts I want to read in my Twitter feed (that’s how I found this one) or through FB shares.

  21. This is pretty much why I never had that widget to begin with (I also prefer subscribing to blogs on GR than publicly follow them, but that’s another subject). I’m sure there are many different reasons why people like the widget and choose to display it, but it never really worked for me. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of how far you and your blog have come, but there’s also so much more to blogging than numbers.

  22. Great post! This is a subject that I’ve been slowly getting annoyed with as well. I don’t care to count follower numbers, (even though I’m happy to have each and every one of my followers) so I get annoyed when I see twitter posts that say, “Omg, I haven’t gotten a new follower in 2 DAYS. Am I doing something wrong?” Reading things like that sort of makes me want to unfollow somebody, because it’s clear what their motives for writing and working on a blog are. It’s no longer about the books. It’s about the popularity and ego-trip, which is sad.

  23. However, it takes finesse and skills to organically grow your blog.

    I cannot agree more. I put up GFC as an alternative for people to start following the blog, but I don’t care much how many people follow me there. I’d really rather get lively discussions on my posts (and if not, then it’s okay, too). I hardly even join the memes out there except if I feel the need to update, and I don’t follow blogs just because of the contests. Content is still king, especially in our blog niche.

  24. I have GFC on my blog but it’s just another options (RSS, Networked blogs & email are the others). While I agree with your sentiment that fixation on numbers is not a good thing – taking away people’s ability to follow your blog easily is, in my opinion, a mistake.

    People want to follow your blog they way they want to, not how you tell them to.

    GFC also puts a face on your followers and you can tell a lot (who follows your blog etc.) I also started a new feature this week where I highlight one of my followers. If I don’t have GFC my list of followers to choose from is limited to basically Twitter.

    Contests are a whole other animal. I have contests but following my blog is not mandatory (however you’ll get more entries if you do). I view it as a nice thing to do for my followers, get more followers and help promote the book.


  25. I 100% agree with this post and you make so many relevant points. When I first started out I would have people follow my blog to enter contests but, like you, I realised they weren’t following for content so it felt a bit empty. It’s lovely to gain followers and know they enjoy reading your content but it’s definitely not the most important thing about blogging at all. Great post 🙂 x

  26. Way to go for taking a stand against being in it for the numbers! I can’t agree with you more that I’d rather see blogs with small followings and great content than vice versa. I’ve really only kept the friend connect widget around to make it easier for people to get the feed, but I’ve never even given contest entries a bonus for following (granted I have had a “previous commenter bonus” but that was to give a little boost to the entrants that actually cared about my blog).

    I recently had another blogger tell me “your blog is great, but you need more followers!” – I didn’t know how to respond other than just saying…”why?” I guess I get frustrated by the numbers game and would rather have 10 followers that read and comment and dialog with me than 1000 followers that stop by once in a blue moon. Nice to see someone else taking that stand too!

  27. that google box means nothing anyway, see me ever having one? people including myself click it to be nice but then what happens? i follow a hundred blogs probably but do i get a feed, nope. good for you.

  28. Awesome post!

    I HATE when people require a follow for a contest…it’s just obnoxious. I love seeing my follower number go up, I completely admit it, but I also love growing it organically; having followers who followed because they are interested. I also love the interaction on my blog. The numbers are fun, of course, but I too enjoy providing quality content.

    I try to limit myself to two memes a week- and it’s because I actually enjoy reading the memes on other blogs! IMM and WoW are my two favorites because I always end up adding a bunch of new books to Goodreads.

  29. Such a great post, and a great idea. Thinking and worrying about followers adds so much stress to blogging – an activity that is supposed to be fun!

    I really hope I get to a point (and soon) when I can just delete the box and stop thinking about it also, because I bet it is a huge breath of fresh air! You can get back to blogging for yourself instead of for everybody else.

  30. Great post. It’s so true what you said. I feel quality of content should determine whether or not people follow a blog but sadly, that is not the case. It frustrates me when I see blogs with 1000+ followers and all it is is contests and more contests. I’d much rather follow someone because they post consistently and write interesting posts, instead of just trying to win a contest. Good for you to stop caring about the numbers!

  31. I really admire the fact that you just got rid of it.

    I agree that I don’t like it when people make you follow for giveaways. I did that once, and it was fine at the time, but in the end making people follow or require any extra entries is just too much work that’s kind of just for the numbers.

    I like to see my own number of followers go up, but I don’t really worry if I lose someone. My IRL family and friends all tell me how cool they think my blog is, and they like to tell everyone they know about it, so I know that someone will always read whatever I post.

  32. Great post, April! You always get people thinking with your discussion posts! 🙂

    I completely agree with what you’re saying about people getting caught up with “more followers, more followers!” It’s not a contest! And having thousands of followers definitely doesn’t make a blog great.

    GFC definitely has its benefits, though, IMO. I don’t hold too many contests, but when I do, sometimes I require a follow and sometimes I don’t—no real rhyme or reason to it, just what I feel like requiring at the time. But I do it, mainly, because I know that most contest enterers tend to be hit-and-run visitors, just there for the goods at first. BUT, for those visitors who use the reader on the blogger homepage, I know there’s a chance they’ll see when I put up any new posts during the following weeks while the contest runs—-and hey, maybe they’ll see a post that interests them and decide to come back for a second visit…and a third and so forth. Maybe they’ll even become regular blog readers! 🙂

    Then again, maybe they’ll decide to unfollow as soon as the contest ends. Meh, no skin off my nose. I see those numbers go up and down all the time and I don’t give it much thought.

    Another thing I use GFC for : generally when someone follows I try to check out their blog , too, if they have one. I have found some amazing blogs this way!

    So it’s not all bad—but I definitely agree that it shouldn’t be used as some kind of score board!

  33. You’re a smart cookie. I totally agree. The numbers do not indicate quality, by any measure.

  34. I love this post. I really don’t understand why Angie doesn’t have more followers. The same goes for other bloggers that I admire.

    I never put up the Google Friend Connect widget on my blog because that isn’t allowed on free WordPress.com blogs. I actually don’t know how many followers I have because I don’t use FeedBurner for my blog’s feed, I just use the regular one that WordPress has. I’m not that concerned with the number of followers because that isn’t really a judge of the quality of the blog. I think it’s great that you decided to remove the widget so you’d have less to worry about because your content is awesome. 🙂

  35. This is food for thought, definitely. I tend to care more about hits, since I have no idea how many ‘followers’ actually read what I post. That said, it does make me happy to see I have some followers. I post because I enjoy it, but I don’t want to feel I’m posting in a total vacuum. I guess though, if you’re getting hits and comments you know that people are reading.

    My only issue with blogs that don’t have GFC is that, when I find a new-to-me blog that I like, it’s good to be able to click follow and know you’ll find it again.

  36. I just wanted you to know that when I first started blogging if there wasn’t a GFC widget, i didn’t KNOW how to follow a blog. So you might be losing potantial followers. Maybe you should do a post on how to add an RSS feed. Now, I just ad the RSS feed or the GFC to my google reader – it makes no difference. But it took me a while to figure that out. So for me, I like seeing the numbers (I’m nowhere near your numbers, so I still keep track) but also about making it easy for people to follow.

  37. Gutsy post – I like it! And I totally agree with you, getting caught up in the numbers game (we all do it) can suck all the fun out of blogging.

  38. Hi, I came across your post while Googling about blog following. I enjoyed reading this, April. I lost my Blogger followers function completely last week after messing with my blog settings. I lost all my followers with one click: my blog was not showing up in people’s readers or “blogs I’m following” list.

    I added the GFC widget. I did it because I wanted to have some of my followers back. I emailed those I had interacted with. I only have 16 followers so far (I used to have about 50). The total number is not really important to me. I wrote a post about my followers blooper and gave some reasons why to follow me and why not. In the why not, I note that I don’t follow everyone back. I made clear in a reply to a follower who requested I “follow her back even if I never again visit her blog” that I don’t do the numbers game and she was very welcome to unfollow me.

    I know I had (and it seems now “have”) visitors who followed me hoping I would pay the favor back. While it is nice to see the followers numbers go up, what’s the point if they are followers who never visit, don’t care about what I say or think?

    I started off blogging for myself and my blogs are like my own libraries of likes and stuff I discover. That’s still the case and although I’m not going after 100 followers, I would like to get a few more because I’d like my posts to go out to more people who are likely to comment and give me feedback. I put a lot of effort into researching and writing my posts, some of which are useful resources and get Googled a bit. While I get the occasional comment from a random visitor – which is great! – I also like the interaction I have with return visitors/followers and that’s why I still have the GFC button up.

    Best wishes

  39. Do you feel free? I bet you do!

    I might end up doing the same, I am at battle with myself. LOL

  40. Really lovely post — I can’t offer anything that hasn’t already been said in the comments but wanted to offer thanks — for the good advice and for essentially introducing me to a number of other fabu looking blogs! 😉

  41. So the other day, I sent I a tweet that asked, what is GFC good for anyway? It takes a while to load, and I felt horrible when I lost a follow. Soon after my tweet, GFC stopped working on my blog and I feel like I had lost something. It takes you through an unnecessary roller coaster ride. I would like a smaller numbers only option that gives my readers an easy way to follow. At the same time though, I need something that I can easily ignore. Great post, it makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one feeling this way.

  42. i totally agree with this post so much that i will not say anything else because you already did so beautifully

  43. Sigh, I know I should stop worrying about numbers as well, and I’ve been tempted several times to get rid of GFC especially since it’s such an obnoxious widget on my sidebar. I keep telling myself one of these days… Maybe it’ll be a new years resolution for me. 😛 Good job for getting rid of it though. Good for you.

  44. I love this! Definitely too many bloggers focus on numbers (I’m often guilty of this myself). Content is definitely king and I love that you’ve taken the extra step to take the focus off of numbers. Really gives me something to think about.

  45. I’m replying to this very old post that just came up in a Google search to say: thank you. When I was blogging for me, I liked my blog. I reviewed really nerdy academic books and literary fiction for the most part and posted about boring things like digital rights and info literacy — and enjoyed doing so, because it was me. Now that I’ve just begun venturing into the “blogosphere,” I’m panicking and changing everything up because I feel like I need a follower count and “challenges” and widgets and easier books to read and no more posts about stuff that bores the average person. And in doing all of that, I have lost my niche and my soul. Ack! So thanks for inadvertently pushing this stranger to forget about getting more fans from within the cool blogging community and instead stick to the boring academics I had before, since I guess I’m more like them anyway. 🙂


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