We use following without the + noun phrase to mean ‘after’, ‘in response to’ or ‘as a result of’:
Following the bad election results of May 8th, the Prime Minister has appointed three new ministers.
Following a general strike in 1933, he fled the country and went to South America.
We use the following with a noun. It means ‘the next’:
They only stayed at the hotel one night and left early the following morning.
We went out on the boat. The sea was really rough and the following hour was the worst in my short life.
We also use the following without another noun to introduce things or people which we then list:
I’m afraid I can’t eat any of the following: tomatoes, cucumber, onions and cabbage.
The following have helped me with this book of photographs: David Jones, Gill Farmer, Martin Weekes and Anthony Gray.