For anybody who has used social media services for any extended period of time, you’ll be well accustomed to the occurrence of random follows or adds, whether it’s on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social media site.

Why would a random person add me? That’s a question social media users ask ourselves a lot. It’s not always for the same reasons, but every time it happens, you can’t help but wonder: where did that come from?

It can be a weird experience, especially if there isn’t an obvious angle to their action. For some people, though, who experience random follows regularly (read famous people), the occurrence is dealt with nonchalantly. For the rest of us, every time a random becomes part of your followers’ section, it’s a far more noticeable event.

Below is a list of possible reasons for a random to be following you, which will hopefully help you to wrap your head around this occurrence.

1. A case of mistaken identity

One of the most common reasons for this type of thing to occur is someone thinking you are somebody else. It’s more common if you have the same or a similar name to someone they intend to add, but it can also happen if you look alike. If you’re using a service that includes profile pictures, then it’s understandable if someone adds you under the assumption that you’re a particular person.

Often times this type of occurrence is remedied when they try and contact you. If they don’t, though, then they’ll continue their life thinking your posts are from someone else (which is why you should always question a random add from the get-go).

It’s important to note that some people are more reluctant than others to question a follow. Sometimes, “ignorance is bliss” takes over and they don’t want to believe that someone didn’t intend to follow them. Other times it’s because people don’t want to fall victim to scammers and spammers, to be riddled with malware in carefully crafted messages. You shouldn’t have to worry about the latter, though, if you’re using a secure service, but the former is forever going to be a problem.

2. They added you because they liked what they saw.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they like the look of you (although they could very well be the case), and could simply be that they saw a post you made and liked it. Some people add those who they think they may share common ground with.

Perhaps they saw a post of yours that was humorous, and they figured you have the same sense of humor as them. Maybe you made a post that featured you promoting an activity they enjoy, like the gym, and they found a connection with you there. It’s all about the wonders of microblogging — sharing your thoughts with others.

3. Sometimes, it’s genuine.

There isn’t always a hidden agenda or a strange reason behind this phenomenon. Sometimes a person may feel as though that’s what occurs on the internet. Maybe they are new to the social network game, or maybe they genuinely wish to have “friends” to contact and communicate with.

Everybody is different, and every circumstance isn’t the same as the next. An individual may be conscious of the random add, but for some reason do it anyway, and others may not. The only real way to know is if you end up communicating with the person, but if you don’t, you’ll probably never know.

4. They want more follows

Many times a random may follow you because they think they’re going to receive one in return. This situation is more often than not simply an attention seeking individual who wants a follow for no reason other than to inflate their follower count. It could also be someone seeking to promote themselves, and by following you, they somehow believe you will follow them back. They may see this as an opportunity that will result in them showing up in more people’s feeds — increasing their visibility, notoriety, and acting as free promotion.

It can also be someone who doesn’t understand the dynamics of social media, and has mistaken the amount of follows for the amount of people following them. This isn’t the same as those people who know what they’re doing and are thirsty for more follows. These people think a higher number for “people you follow” is the same as a high number for “following you”.

5. Their account has been hacked

Whatever service is being used, there always exists the possibility that you can be “hacked”. Being hacked doesn’t necessarily mean a team of computer whizzes are currently sitting in a dark room somewhere typing away your life savings (although that can be the case too). It means a virus, a bot, or some other similar kind of malicious software has taken control of your account, and is causing it to act independently of your commands. Often times, these bots are designed to follow as many people as possible in hopes that they will get followed back. The bots will then proceed to spam you through the channels of communication the social media platform uses – private messaging, wall posting, etc.

We should all mourn for those that get hacked, because they have to sit through the long and depressing customer helplines — they need all the support they can get.

Featured photo credit: Jeff Turner via flickr.com

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