#FollowFriday - You're Doing it Wrong

This is the face I pull every #FollowFriday

Back when the world was young and Twitter was new and exciting, a tradition developed. Every Friday, the users of the burgeoning social media site would take the time to promote their friends. They’d explain why a certain person was interesting, and tag it #FollowFriday.

And it looked a little like this:

Follow @Mr603 – he’s witty, handsome and writes a wonderfully useful copywriting blog. #FollowFriday

People would recommend one or two other users who’d added value to their Twitter experience, and in return they’d receive recommendations from other people. It helped networks to grow, and the people did rejoice.

Nowadays, we’re bombarded with recommended followers, Twitter directories and categorised lists. Telling people who to follow just isn’t necessary anymore.

So #FollowFriday died a quiet death, after a life of great service.

Except it didn’t. It became something different. Something infuriating. Something, spammy

#FollowFriday, in all of its glory

Now, #FollowFriday has mutated into a horrific spam-fest, where users list every single person they follow, tag it #FF and clog up feeds for hours on end. Friday is no longer a day of discovery. It’s a day of unrelenting horror, where no value is shared as people publicise their own address books. Nobody is singled out as someone who adds value, and no incentive is given to follow anyone.

And it doesn’t work. Nobody’s going to follow a whole list of people, meaning that the #FF lists serve no purpose.

So please. If you haven’t abandoned the obsolete tradition of #FollowFriday, why not take it back to its roots? Pick two or three people you follow and give them a Tweet each. Explain why we should follow them.

You never know. You might even earn them a follower or two.

11 Comments comments for "#FollowFriday – You’re Doing it Wrong"

  1. Tom Albrighton at 10:53 am

    Great post, and right on the money. I do still look at #ff tweets, but I tend to click on the most interesting-looking usernames and possibly follow if their feed looks interesting. I’d have to respect a user a LOT to work through a list of five or more names, without reasons to follow.

    The problem’s been exacerbated by Twitter’s own ‘Who to follow’ device, which no-one was asking for as far as I can tell. The great thing about Twitter is that you go have to work a bit to get the most out of it – learning to use the platform, learning what you want in your feed, learning what’s best for you to tweet (for your own character I mean, not in the sense of ‘doing it right’). Pushing people to follow goes against that whole culture.

    Also, the recommendations can be a bit parochial – either in terms of interests or geographical locality. For me the whole point of Twitter is seeing stuff from people thousands of miles away, or thousands of degrees of separation away. That’s why I #ff people like @sevenlives rather than a load of copywriters and online marketers, who are pretty easy to find anyway. I like chatting to those people, but you can have too much of a good thing.

  2. Andy Bryant at 11:03 am

    Great point. As with just about everything else on Twitter, it’s now possible to use applications that generate your FollowFriday lists for you, based on a simple math count of how many of your followers you’ve spoken with in the last week. The result is exactly as you describe – a spammy, random list of usernames with absolutely no context, and therefore no incentive to discover more about them and whether they’re worth following.

    Another thing that riles me is this growing trend of retweeting anyone who’s tweeted a #ff recommendation for you. We’re already following you, we don’t need to see someone else recommending we do something we’re already doing. Lame.

    • Andrew at 11:13 am

      Certain commenters on this post are guilty of RTing FF recommendations…

      As is the author, unfortunately.

  3. Ben Locker at 11:14 am

    I gave up doing #ff months ago, but that was more to do with being a lazy so and so than anything else. But you’re right – I stopped checking out #ffs almost from the off, apart from when they came with an amusing or genuinely interesting recommendation.

  4. Kesha Brown at 11:06 pm

    Oh I’m so glad someone explained this! I’ve only recently started using Twitter for engagement so I had no idea about the true nature of Follow Friday and was doing it wrong! I knew something wasn’t right because I thought why just put a bunch of names in a list? What does that mean? So from now on, I’m going to lead by example (along with you guys) and get #FollowFriday back to its roots 🙂

  5. Morgan at 4:54 pm

    Now there’s some sort of Wednesday follow, where they do the same thing as #FF. I have no idea what it stands for, but now people are just finding new ways to spam their list with their “favorite” followers.

    I don’t do #FF, however, if someone has recommended me through their #FF, I will gladly retweet it because most of the time they actually mean it when they recommend me. Just gotta keep an eye out for the people who don’t mean it.

  6. Mike Cormack at 1:06 pm

    Good points. If there’s no value to something, as with these lists – even if you do get caught up in them, you don’t get more followers – it should be quietly put to sleep. However, I think that when you’re building a community, #FF still has some value, especially if your followers are semi-aquainted. They can follow each other, and the interaction between you and your followers will increase.

  7. Louise Harnby at 11:10 am

    I’m new to Twitter and joined to keep up with publishing industry news. Someone I know listed me and only a few others on an #FF tweet, with a very brief explanation of what we were all about. I took a look at the others and two of them were posting stuff that I was interested in and now I follow them. So, yes, there is spamming (that was inevitable) but it can still work, especially for newbies. At the moment, I spend less time tweeting and more on investigating who’s out there, what they’re saying and whether I’m interested. The thing I’ve learned is that you can’t be lazy with a platform like this, though you probably could in the early days – you have to put in the work to get the best out of it. And #FF tweets from those that I follow have helped rather than hindered me… so far, anyway.

  8. CheShA at 2:18 pm

    This is spot on, and I agree whole heartedly (bring back #FollowFriday!) – apart from one bit – As #FollowFriday became #ff and those blocks of usernames started appearing, they can, in fact, serve a purpose: If my name appears in one of those blocks, I will always check out the other names in that block; if someone has seen fit to recommend me, then there’s a good chance there will be some value to me in the other people they’ve recommended alongside me! I generally make it a policy to follow at least one new person from any block #ff I receive.

    I still do any #FollowFriday shout outs I make in the “old fashioned” way, and a single user adjusting doesn’t by its self make the #ff practice any less spammy, but I’ve managed to adjust my habits to make it useful to me and there’s no reason why you can’t!

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