FollowFriday is one of the earliest Twitter trends, and one of the most successful ones. If you aren’t aware of what it is, essentially it’s a way for users to give shout outs to certain followers of theirs. The idea is that, if you look for the #FF or #FollowFriday hashtag, on Friday of course, you’ll find a bevy of Twitterers who are worth knowing, and that you will then give them a follow.
The thing is, I haven’t observed a lot of people going around following people because they get mentioned in an #FF. A few people have mentioned me in #FollowFriday posts over the years, and I’ve never seen a huge spike in new followers as a result. It’s certainly a nice gesture, and makes me blush a little. If the purpose is to spread the follows around, though, it doesn’t appear to be working.
So last Friday, I tried something a little different. Instead of putting together a clump of names with “#FollowFriday” in front of it, I made several posts – one for each individual I felt should be looked at, and more importantly, why. This is a better way of doing things for a couple of reasons.
First, the people you mention understand what they do or did that you like so much – and afterwards become better friends. Rather than sending you a quick, “Thanks for the #FF,” they’ll be more likely to respond to a post of yours, or engage you in a back-and-forth conversation. They’ll do this because you’ve shown them you’re actually listening.
Another reason to do this is it makes someone following them more likely. You’ve listed reasons these people are exceptional, so anyone actually searching this hashtag gets a better understanding of who you’ve offered up.
Finally, honestly, #FollowFriday is a concept that is no longer useful. Since Twitter created Lists, finding people that other people like are very easy to find. Not that anyone really gets a lot of followers from being on lists either. I’m on 179 of them as of this writing, and I doubt a lot of people are following me because they found me on internet-nerds. (Thought I do think that’s a bitchin’ list to be included on. Thanks, @Loreli!)
But if you want to follow the people your Twitter friends like, the lists do that already. People don’t care who everyone else is following though, apparently anyway, so the whole exercise is really just a way of thanking friends for being real friends.
And if that’s the case, I say let them know why, one by one, in posts all their own.
One suggestion, though: If you’re going to individually #FollowFriday people, space them out through the day – maybe one every hour or so. When I gave big ups to my friends all at once, all these posts clogged up my other friends’ Twitter pages. Not fun.