Steve Woods

The Follow Friday Primer

In Social Media on November 13, 2009 at 1:33 am

twitter_logo_what_doingYou just wrapped up your first week of Twitter, said hello to the world, quietly squeaking inside over your very first follower, discovered the joys of that reply button, and publicly thanked each and every new follow you received.

As the week progressed, you discovered the naughty Britney Bots and how to block and/or report them.  Depending on what you said, a variety of businesses showed up in your Follower tally.

As you gained confidence, you formulated pithy hellos to celebrities and pranced all over the power-user’s pages to see who they followed.  You marvelled at the sharing of music, photos and links to everything, everywhere.  Twitter was really starting to get exciting and cool, as the endless stream of information, emotions, laughter, love, angst and more went steadily by on your screen.

Just as things seemed to fall into a gentle rhythm, Friday rolled around, and after logging in you now find yourself surrounded in a sea of endless @ and # symbols. It’s Follow Friday on Twitter.  Now what do you do?

follow_friday_list

You are likely seeing a whole bunch of these...

There are a variety of resources that describe and help guide you through the process of providing shoutouts to those you love on Twitter.  I know, I’ve read a bunch of them, and have done my best to pull all of the hints and ideas together in one place.  If you landed here, I hope I can make this whole thing easier.

So start me off by explaining this Follow Friday thing to me.

twitter_micah

Micah Baldwin, Founder of #FollowFriday

Follow Friday has been around on Twitter since January of 2009, when Micah Baldwin @micah suggested it.  People agreed that it would be nice if everyone took at least part of one day a week to let others know which of those they followed they really like, for reasons left up to them.  Everyone would provide the name of their favs including the @ symbol so it became a clickable link, along with the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday to let everyone know it was their Friday Favorites.  To keep from overwhelming a stream, people began putting a list of people on each #FF tweet, rather than one tweet for each person.

I’m just starting out and am still figuring out who I like to follow.

There’s nothing wrong with simply opting out of the whole Follow Friday thing until you get a handle on it.  Simply watch those you follow share their favorites.  Check out the names that jump out at you by clicking on their usernames to get to their profiles.  Read the new profiles and their recent tweets, and decide for yourself if you wish to follow them too.  One of the wonderful benefits of this is you could likely receive some follows in return.

Introduce yourself to your favorite new people you followed, the ones that show the greatest promise for meaningful interaction. You can even let the person who recommended them know in the same tweet! Here’s how…

said_to_follow

She included the new follow and who recommended it all in one!

People love to know that their hard work sending #FFs out have caused someone, somewhere to follow their favorites too!

I’ve seen how this works, and I want to jump on the Follow Friday love train too...

Once you are ready to begin sharing your favorites with the Twitter world, there are a few techniques to consider, to make your follows most impactful.  By no means do you have to follow these rules, but they help….

Follow Friday Do’s:

  1. twitter_alancolmes_ff

    Alan Colmes' Follow Fridays

    Spend some time thinking about who you will provide a #FF shoutout for.  There is nothing wrong with typing up the list on a Word document in order to keep things straight and save time later.

  2. Space your #FF tweets out, providing at least a 15 second period of time between each.  Even if you decided to use the Word document technique listed above, take your time…
  3. Don’t put more than 3 people in a #FF tweet and include a comment such as “Funny people, always there to make me laugh.”  This means you will have to come up with categories for your #FF tweets, and will need to pick the top 3 people in that group.  Challenge yourself to only send one tweet in that category.
  4. If you keep your tweet down to 120 characters, it will make it easier to “retweet” or RT it, as it leaves space for the additional @ symbol, username and RT. Yes, people do often RT Follow Fridays…
  5. Some like to send out #FFs for their new recent followers, as a weekly welcoming message. This is especially nice for those people that have immediately engaged with you and shared often.  Fox news commentator @AlanColmes did this for me, and I was impressed by it greatly.
  6. Perhaps you’d like to limit your #FFs to those of your followers that interacted with you the most in the preceding week, or were the most consistent in responding to your information.  This can include commenting on your photos, talked to you about favorite articles, listened to your music links, or read a recent blog post.  It can also mean those that shared their own information with you.
  7. For fairly new users, you can provide a #FF shoutout for those individuals that have helped you the most, introducing you to Twitter and encouraging you along the way.  Hint.

Follow Friday Don’ts:

  1. ff_thank_yous

    Don't forget to say Thank You!

    Don’t send out more than 10 #FF tweets at once.  Remember you are only one voice among potentially hundreds or even thousands of people someone is following.

  2. Don’t send your #FF tweets in rapid-fire succession.  You just become background noise, easy to ignore (or worse, to unfollow or block.)
  3. Don’t send #FF tweets chock-full of usernames with no reason as to why we should follow them.  C’mon, throw us a bone on this one, so we can at least make a quick decision about whether we want more information from “great fishermen” or “funny accountants” in our stream.  People rarely follow ANYONE on a list of names without a reason…
  4. Don’t forget to thank people for including you in their #FFs.  Check your @YourName mentions link to see them rolling in…
  5. Don’t recommend anyone you are not following yourself. Go ahead, check and make sure.

Other #FF methods being recently utilized

Twitter Lists – You can create Twitter lists and then tweet out the link with a description of its purpose. This will lead people to follow your list vice your followers, something slowly gaining favor as the new Twitter List feature finishes its rollout.

tweepmlTweepML – With many thanks to @BuzzEdition for introducing me to this great site.   Like Twitter’s List feature, in TweepML you can create a list of favorites in a variety of categories and tweet out the list.  I love that interested people can follow everyone on your TweepML list with just one click.  This saves tons of time! TweepML has recently added Twitter Lists support so you can type in the address of a Twitter list to follow everyone on it, but it is still buggy…  NOTE: Using this too much will cause Twitter to suspend interactions with TweepML for awhile, so be judicious.

Thinking outside of the box

With a bit of creativity and a lot of time, you can take your Follow Fridays to a whole new level.  Here is one such example from one of my favorite Tweeps, Gary Arbaugh (@Gary1980Arb):

The Twitter Love Boat

If you have found this post to be of help to you in navigating the vagaries of Follow Friday, please feel free to follow me at @_stevewoods and/or Retweet this article!

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  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by _stevewoods: The Follow Friday Primer – http://tinyurl.com/ffprimer

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