May 28, 2010

Twitter's Follow Friday- The Rules You Need To Know


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The Best Part of each Friday is when I log on to Twitter and see 52 links to posts about the rules for using social media. Many of these posts are written by self proclaimed Social Media experts who claim to make their living by advising businesses and people on their social media strategy. Color me dubious but I don't think that most of these experts are earning a living through their social media work.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe more than a few people have managed to capitalize on the social media gold rush. Maybe some of these experts have figured out a way to leverage the interest into something that pays. It wouldn't be the first time that I have been wrong, but judging by the ongoing posts by mommy bloggers about a desire to be paid for their work there is little evidence to suggest that I am.

It is probably unfair to poke fun at those who designate themselves as Social Media Experts but I almost can't help myself. What sort of qualifications does it take to become an expert in the nascent field of Social Media. Are universities offering a B.S. in Social Media. Can you earn a masters or a doctorate. Maybe you can. Maybe I should google it and see what happens. A little research is often the difference between a blogger who has credibility and those who do not.

But we'll save that discussion for a different day. Instead let's talk about Follow Friday and whether it serves a purpose or not. As indicated by its moniker Follow Friday is a weekly event on Twitter. In theory it is a way for your followers to find new people to follow courtesy of the recommendation that you offer by promoting them in your twitter stream. The real question is whether the theory translates into a practical and useful application.

During the past year or so I have read a number of posts by people who think that it doesn't work anymore. The central tenet of their complaint is that Follow Friday has turned into a time in which people churn out lists of names without supplying a reason why people should follow them. I can't say that I completely disagree with it. Sometimes when I review my stream it is nothing but names.

I am not pressed for time that works for me. I'll click on a name and review their profile to see if they're someone that I might be interested in following. But given a choice I'd much rather see a reason for following than just a name next to the Follow Friday hashtag. The extra effort lends more weight to your recommendation. It makes it a little bit more credible and enhances the likelihood that I'll follow them.
But I wouldn't say that this is a rule for using Twitter because I see Twitter the way that see most social media. There are no rules to refer to. At best there are guidelines that you can follow or to use tired business jargon, Best Practices.

For me it all comes back to a question of whether I am making effective use of Twitter and other social media tools as they relate to my personal goals. I am not sure that the current practice of tweeting lists of people for Follow Friday is doing that for me. It has some use for building a communal feeling among the daddy bloggers, but beyond that I am skeptical.

What do you think?

7 comments:

twistedxtian said...

I agree with you 100%. While I'm occasionally guilty of listing names, I try to do little blurbs on each person that I #FF. Lists of names can be useful if the person has time to check them all out, but it is much nicer when I know a bit about the person I'm looking to follow.

Qasim11876 said...

Many of these posts are written by self proclaimed Social Media experts who claim to make their living by advising businesses and people on their social media strategy. Color me dubious but I don't think that most of these experts are earning a living through their social media work.

The JackB said...

I feel badly about this. I am appreciative of all who list me, but I want to give people a reason to follow those I mention. I sort of ignore FF and hope that people understand.

The Festival of the Fathers and my comments on your posts are indications that I appreciate your hard work and effort.

Keith Wilcox said...

My twitter knowledge is shaky. I don't know how this follow friday thing works. I have seen long lists of names that I always ignore though because they mean nothing to me. I think the people who say that there should be context to a recommendation are probably right. I don't click on things unless there's some compelling reason. Not because I don't care, but just because I don't have time to waste of clicks that might not pan out. If I could, I'd read everybody, I just can't.

The JackB said...

That is really the big issue for me- time. It is too precious to waste so I really try to focus where I spend it. And even then I feel like I am stuck.

Lisa Sunbury said...

Jack, I'm still new on twitter, and I'm trying to figure out effective ways to use it. I like #FF, because it's helped me to find some great like minded people to follow. If I am your follower (which I am), and you recommend some of your favorite people to me, I'm much more likely to check them out and follow them, and/or start a conversation with them, than not. Also, I'm an educator, and have a message I'd like to get out via twitter, so it's helpful to me when someone I admire, who has a greater following, recommends me via #FF. I've gained lots of new followers this way. I do #FF as a way to "shout out" and say thanks to some of my favorite people every week as well. I always try to give a reason. In fact, this week, I grouped you with a few people whose timelines/ sites/posts almost always bring a smile to my face. And I like it, actually love it, when someone includes me in #FF list especially when they say something nice too. It just makes twitter feel friendlier to me, and kind of maximizes the whole social aspect. It's akin to being at a big party, and feeling a little lost, and then a friend comes up and says "Hey, let me introduce you to my friend Jack, I think you'll really like him." Then it all feels a little less lonely.

Jack said...

Hi Lisa,

I think that the party analogy is good. Social media can be very lonely. It sounds kind of silly to describe "social media" as being lonely but it is true.

So I understand what you mean about how Follow Friday can help make it a little friendlier.