Every Friday, I see this influx of tweets labeled #FF or #followfriday. While I think it is great to acknowledge your favorite followers, I do think that almost all of people using the #FF tag aren’t making the most of Follow Friday. Essentially, most people are just clogging Twitter.
The Follow Friday trend was started in 2009, and the basic social networking concept does make sense. I’m following some cool people. I announce to everyone that they’re cool and you should follow them, too. A percentage of my followers makes the effort to follow the people I’ve recommended. All this time, other people are doing the same thing, and some are even recommending you. So, everybody gets new followers and your popularity spirals outward as you’re introduced to new people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet.
Today, Follow Friday is one of the most popular trends on Twitter, but from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t really work the way it was set out to work. On Fridays, lists of names with the #FF or #followfriday tag have become white noise in many cases.
Why? Here’s the breakdown, as I see it:
- Most people follow hundreds of people, but are only friends (either in real life or online) with a small percentage.
- When someone you know well recommends people, you might follow them, but when a follower that you don’t know well recommends someone, you don’t know how good that recommendation is. So, chances are, you don’t follow their recommendations.
Something else to consider: do the people who follow you based on a Follow Friday recommendation actually care about your tweets? Are they clicking your links, retweeting your messages, and replying to you? In my experiences, the answer is no most of the time. Even when a few people recommend me, I don’t see a huge influx of followers, and the new followers a I do get usually don’t say hello at any point.
So how can we fix this? I think that Twitter users everywhere can make Follow Friday better by doing two things:
- Recommend with a Reason
The days of effectively listing as many people as possible that you like are over. That doesn’t mean you can’t show lots of love. You can! I think you should do it in one of two ways, though:
- Have a theme to your recommendations. Make your recommendations all mommy bloggers or all foodies or all photographers or whatever. Having a theme means that people who are specifically interested in that topic can follow your recommended users, while others on your list who aren’t interest in that niche can skip over your recommendations for the week.
- Recommend one person (or one person at a time in multiple tweets), and tell everyone why you’re recommending that person. I’m recommending @John because he retweets interesting links about art. I’m recommending @Jane because she posts really great inspirations quotes. I’m recommending @Bob because he’s a weight loss guru that really helped me lose a few pounds.
In other words, don’t just throw your recommendations to the world and hope that they stick. You’re obviously recommending someone because you enjoy following them on Twitter, but that might not translate to other users on your list. Give your followers reasons why they should follow the person you’re recommending.
- Get to know the people you follow.
What’s the point of following someone if you don’t actually connect with them. Before you follow anyone on one of your friend’s recommendations, take the time to look at that person’s tweets. Are you really interested in following? Remember, Twitter is about quality over quantity. When you take the time to follow someone because of someone else’s Follow Friday recommendation, introduce yourself in a non-spammy way and begin a relationship with them. You don’t have to retweet everything they say or reply to every post, but be a true follower, not someone who’s just looking to boost numbers.
Follow Friday is an awesome tool if you use it correctly. If you make some real connections on Twitter, you could end up with not just a new follower, but a new friend, a new business partner, or a new reader for your blog.
Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. To find out her #FF of the week, follow her on Twitter at @allison_boyer – and don’t forget to say hello!