I recently wrote an article titled “Eight Commandments of #FFing for Keep #FollowFriday Real” (which was later updated to this article)
The intent of the article was to:
- raise awareness about #FollowFriday and how it can be both useful and helpful
- highlight issues that have lead to a number of people avoiding #FollowFriday
- share some rules that I would be following in the hope of keeping my #followfriday tweets real and relevant
One of the points I wrote was “6. I will not @reply to thank people for #ffs – I will keep that to a direct message when I can”. A couple of comments from friends and some personal experiences have since made me rethink that point. This included a friend thanking me for listing them in a #followfriday by messaging me on Facebook! That really made me think “OK – that rule 6 is flawed”.
BUT… I still think one of the most common methods of thanking someone for a #followfriday mention is flawed and “spammy” i.e. re-tweeting it with a “Thanks!” at the start.
So I thought it time to update that “rule” and detail how I would go about thanking people for #FollowFriday mentions.
First let me outline some basics of Tweet composition that will be useful to newer users of Twitter.
Understanding “Mentions” and “@ replies”
An @ symbol is used to identify a person/account. So if you put (for example) “@rtstrategy” in a tweet it’s called “a mention”. I will see it in my mentions column on HootSuite and I’ll get a notification on my iPhone as I use Boxcar). In your tweet @rtstrategy will show as a clickable link to my twitter account. Writing “@rtstrategy” is therefore very different to writing “rtstrategy” in composing a tweet.
If you put the ID right at the start of a tweet that’s called an “at reply” or “@reply” and it’s part way to a Direct Message (which is completely private). Think of it as the traditional mail equivalent of a postcard… it’s addressed to an individual, but it’s open to be read by anyone who comes across it. People will come across it if they look at your specific twitter feed e.g. by visiting www.twitter.com/yourname. But it won’t show up in your follower’s home feeds UNLESS they are also following me.
More info on “@replies” and “mentions” is available here Twitter.com forums.
Understanding Hashtags (#ThisIsAHashtag)
A hashtag (#) in any tweet represents a way of pushing info in to a public search stream. They are useful for categorizing posts and getting a wider audience for them. New Twitter users will want to work out relevant Hashtags they may wish to follow by using a site like Hashtags.org. You can then set up search columns for them in HootSuite, Tweetdeck or on the standard Twitter web interface. I often use #kelowna for anything local to my city, I keep an eye on #arsenal and #49ers for news on my soccer team and NFL team. #marketing #socialmedia #media #design are some hashtags that I follow and use for industry news.
So… How Do I Compose a Good Thank You Tweet
So why do I not like seeing re-tweets with a “Thanks!” at the start as a thank you for a #followfriday? Well… invariably people keep the #followfriday tag in them, which clogs the public stream unnecessarily. You are also effectively recommending yourself and anyone else mentioned in the original #followfriday tweet including the person sending it. Do you really know the other people mentioned in the tweet? Do you follow them? Have you followed them long enough to recommend them?
If you do want to immediately recommend the person that recommend you, this format works well.
— Thanks @username for the #followfriday. Coming right back at ya. I love your tweets on fluffy kittens and Brazilian music. —
It works well because:
- their user ID is not at the start, so it is a mention NOT an @reply (remember that an @reply is unlikely to be seen unless they already follow the other person, in which case there’s little value to that recommendation!)
- you rationalise your recomendation – to me this is of key importance in keeping #followfriday real
If you respond…
— @username Thanks so much for the Friday recommendation – it’s much appreciated. Have a great weekend! —
That’s a good, less public way of thanking someone. It’s less public because it is an @reply NOT a mention AND it does not contain the #followfriday hashtag.
You’re not returning their endorsement, but guess what! You don’t HAVE to do that – just like you don’t HAVE to automatically follow back everyone that follows you (indeed you SHOULDN’T automatically follow everyone back). You can certainly recommend someone on another Friday if YOU want to, perhaps as part of a themed #followfriday. You may not even be thanking them on a Friday so the #followfriday tag would be erroneous.
As always – feedback, questions, comments are MORE than welcome!