Ten Commandments of #FF'ing for Keeping #FollowFriday Real

Today is Friday. I love Fridays. Even Friday the 13th’s. In fact they are even cooler than usual Fridays because if something goes wrong you can blame it on the “Friday the 13th factor”.

Anyway – this Friday I thought I’d update this blog on Twitter’s #FollowFriday or #FF trend. And by the way… if you’re not familiar with the evolution of #FF on Twitter then check out this article from Mashable.

I originally wrote this post back in December 2009. That particular Friday a few things had gotten Follow Friday to the front of my mind:

  • The fact that I completely lost track of the days this week and accidentally started my #FF on Thursday at 2am before deleting and holding back!
  • More than one comment thanking me for an #FF – from people who don’t #FF themselves out of concern that others find it annoying.
  • I took part in a webinar (hosted by @virtualmarketer) where #FF and #FollowFriday was used as an example of a popular hashtag.
  • A tweep I (had just started following sent more #FF’s (and subsequent retweets of thankyous and @ replies) than I thought possible. By 9 am my 1600 x 1200 monitor needed over 27 screens of scrolling on their Twitter page to get through the #FollowFriday love up – a veritable orgy of #FFing – it continued to totally dominate my home stream until I unfollowed. And it goes on each and every Friday.
  • This report from Tim Difford of theNEXTWEB (UK) came to my attention
  • As did the campaign to keep Follow Friday relevant (#keepFFreal)
  • Finally… an iPhone App was released this week with the slogan “It’s a tradition. Everyone does it.” (I downloaded it, used it once, deleted it. In my opinion – save yourself a dollar and avoid it).

(UPDATE – see blog comments below for response from the developer of this App, and also note that several updates have been implemented since which help produce more relevant #FF tweets – so kudos to @shabzcohelp)

The Birth of #FollowFriday

To quote the first ever #FollowFriday tweet from @micah – “I’m starting Follow Friday’s. Every Friday suggest a person to follow and everyone follow him/her. Today it’s @fancyjeffrey and @w1redone” (Note – both of these links are to updated profile names for these users).

Now perhaps @micah didn’t just start [one of] Twitter’s most popular themes, but also set the tone for how it would develop. Note the use of a singular “suggest a person” followed by detailing two people ;-)

It seems to me that a growing number of people consider Follow Friday’s to now be something equivalent to spam. For example, the well respected Canadian Entrepreneur, Motivator and all round good Tweep @SharonHayes, backed out of Follow Friday a good while ago and details the alternatives she pursues on her blog.

For the foreseeable future at least, I’m going to keep using #followfriday. But I’m going to set myself some rules (to which there will be some exceptions) regarding how I will #ff.

Ten Commandments of #FF’ing.

1. Whatever you do DON’T automate #FF or recommend everyone you follow. Imagine you’re at a social gathering with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people in attendance. You may well spend some of your time introducing some people or groups to each other. But if you run around like a headless chicken making sure EVERYONE has said hi to EVERYONE else people will think you’re crazy. Then imagine everyone at the party is doing the same thing!* Consider a maximum of 5 #ff tweets for say up to 30 people. Perhaps number them (pt 1-5 etc).

2. Rationalise #FollowFriday’s. Dont just type #ff or #followfriday followed by a load of @joebloggs, @widgetguy, @hotchick, @smartgal etc. Explain briefly why people should consider following that person.

3. Don’t #ff the same people all the time (perhaps no more than once a month) – unless there is a very clear reason to do so. There’s a lot of great people on Twitter. Spread the love around.

4. Don’t #ff people JUST because they #ff’d you. And don’t expect people to #ff you JUST because you #ff’d them. This just leads to irrelevance in #FollowFriday tweets (and JUST is the operative word there).

5. Don’t retweet #ffs in which you’re mentioned JUST because you’re mentioned. Sure, if you want to recommend the other people on the tweet then go for it.

6. Be careful how you reply to thank people for #ffs – consider the syntax of tweets and who will see different types of Tweet (@ reply’s; mentions; DMs; hashtagged tweets) [see this rtstrategy.ca blog post]

7. Make a conscious effort to prepare an #ff. Actually look at each person’s recent stream before #ff’ing them. (Recent example – I found a North American division of a UK company that I was very fond of on Twitter. In my happy state I very quickly FF’d them. In the few days after I realized the way they were using Twitter was not good).

8. Theme you #followfridays. Perhaps one week do new local Twitter users, the next may be fans of your favorite sports team, the next may be particular industry leaders etc.

9. Consider using @MrTweet: Mr Tweet is similar like the technique above where you can recommend someone personally. When you recommend someone using Mr Tweet it will be stored in their website.*

10. Consider using a Twitter List for #followfriday : In some circumstances it may be hard for you to recommend everyone you want to (perhaps you’ve just been to a conference and met 100 people you want to recommend. You can add them to a Twitter list, name it Follow Friday and ask your followers to follow the list or follow the people on the list.*

[* = thanks to @askaaronlee and this post for contributing aspects of this post]

By observing these rules I hope to keep my #ff’s relevant to my Twitter followers. Remember: KEEP FOLLOW FRIDAY REAL!

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading; in order to write, a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
Samuel Johnson, English Author (1709 – 1784)

9 Responses to “Ten Commandments of #FF'ing for Keeping #FollowFriday Real”

  1. Mica Knibbs December 11, 2009 at 8:54 pm // Reply

    I agree with the majority of what you say here.

    I don’t mind thanking someone in a @reply when they #Follow Friday me, as it does help raise viewership. As a new freelancer, the more eyes checking out my page, the better. I can see your point in why you don’t @reply, but it works for me because I may only get a couple #FF mentions each week. If I were getting a lot of them each week, it would be a bit much to fill a feed with mentions of myself and thank-you notes, and blah blah blah.

    I strongly agree that it should mean something though. When I mention someone for a Follow Friday, I always write a couple of words as to why I recommend them to others, whether it be conversation, inspiration, or maybe just strong content. Usually, it is somebody that I have interacted with in some way, and gained from the Twitter conversation.

    As well, I only choose a handful of people to recommend each week, if any. If I recommend you, it is because I find your offered content and conversations on Twitter or your Blog to be valuable. I only hope that if you are recommending me, that it is for the same reasons.

    This is why I mentioned you this week. Keep it up!

    I’m listening.

    #

    • Richard Taylor December 11, 2009 at 11:56 pm // Reply

      Hey Mica,

      Thanks for your input – and thanks again for the #ff – I guess I should add the word “automatically” in to a couple of the “commandments”. Or maybe that can be number 10 “I reserve the right to break the other #ff’ing rules when I see fit and for good reason”.

      They always seem to have a similar statement in legal documents or job descriptions ;-)

      Hope to catch you around town at something social in the not too distant future.

      Cheers,

      Rich.

      #

  2. Shabbir Vijapura December 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm // Reply

    First of all, I’d like to introduce myself as the maker of the app you mentioned in the article (Follow Friday Generator).

    I did not think the making of my app would cause such issues to people on their blogs. I feel, if anything, I am helping the cause of corrupt lists, because at least my app is choosing people that the user actually FOLLOWS. It has been a trend that people just retweet any lists that they are in(as you mentioned in your post), and I think that’s stupid because you have no idea who the other people are. I do appreciate your critique of the app, but if used correctly, I do not think it is a waste of money. If you have any suggestions as to what I could do to help change your mind please let me know.

    @shabzcohelp

    #

    • Richard Taylor December 11, 2009 at 11:33 pm // Reply

      Hi Shabbir,

      Thanks for contributing to this blog. I’m glad we’ve connected! Follow Friday Generator seems to be selling well so my congratulations.

      Let me expand a little on my critique of the App. I could have been a little more constructive with my comments in the original post, so let’s see if I can correct that.

      Firstly – anything that helps #FollowFriday retain relevance is a good thing for me – I don’t want to lose that referral method!

      I found the app disappointing in that it has few features. It seems (and correct me if I’m wrong) that it auto-generates a single #FollowFriday tweet by detailing the users with which you have had most interaction (@replies, RT’s etc etc) – by accessing autoff.com.

      You also have the option of basing your #followfriday tweet on the autoff.com data for another user.

      I guess my point is that I can already do that easily by accessing autoff.com on the web and tweeting via that site, or by cutting and pasting that list. Or I can use TweetStats or similar to work out who I RT or @reply to most and then compile the #FF manually.

      To me – a completely automated process takes away a key point of #FF – it should be who we, as humans, CHOOSE to recommend.

      Here are some of the things I’d love to see in a Follow Friday App:

      It to be considered an “Assistant” rather than an auto-generator i.e. it has a selection of filters and parameters that help me “build” my #FF:

      - How many #FF tweets do I wish to send (e.g. up to 5)
      - Do I wish to use #ff or #followfriday or both
      - Do I wish to introduce each #ff, introduce the stream of tweets or both
      - To use the autoff.com algorithm OR other ways of filtering, perhaps by geographic location (e.g. people in my city I’ve interacted with most in the last week) by subject (e.g. people I follow that have tweeted on the #WorldCup this week)
      - Exclusions, such as not repeating ID’s that were in the last 3 weeks of #FF’s or those that have not posted in the last week
      - Unsung heroes – people I’ve interacted with steadily over time, but have slipped under the radar each week
      - Flags – through the week you can flag ID’s that you want to #FF when the time comes

      I’d gladly pay more than $1 for something that really helped me generate meaningful #ff’s

      That’s just off the top of my head. I’d be glad to beta test anything you come up with – and thanks again for getting in touch.

      #

  3. Shabbir Vijapura December 12, 2009 at 8:38 am // Reply

    Hey Richard,

    Fortunately yes, the app is doing great :]. I should only expect this on Friday’s though.

    Yes, the app only makes 1 #FollowFriday list as you can probably see from autoff.com.

    The idea behind the app was to only have to sign in once to your Twitter account and after that just be able to tap generate, review the list, and press post.

    I do agree, that it is only humane that we choose the followers we recommend ourselves, but it’s really not about humanity it’s about not having to look through and find people. You just get a recommendation from the app. When you generate the post, you are still allowed to edit it, and possibly remove some usernames.

    Let me try to follow up on your list of recommended changes.

    1. Seems easy enough to add a filter of how many tweets
    2. I was already planning on adding the #FF or #followfriday
    3. I could think of a nice way to click on one of the followers and add additional information about them.
    4. This would be a little bit hard as I do not really know how the algorithm works with autoff. That kind of programming isn’t exactly my forte. I would love to be able to make something like that though.
    5. As for your other recommendations they also seem to be creating a new algorithm which I unfortunately have no idea how to do :[.

    #

    • Richard Taylor December 12, 2009 at 10:09 am // Reply

      Hey Shabbir – thanks for contributing again – I can connect you with a couple of iPhone app developers if you’d like to discuss collaboration. Perhaps you could end up with a Lite version and a Pro version in the future?

      By the way – the user I mention above has started #FollowFriday “previews” already. They started at 9am on Saturday morning. I’ve had no choice but to unfollow him!

      #

  4. paul January 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm // Reply

    I actually did not now about #ff but I see your commandments and I agree. People have a bad tendency to abuse great ideas for selfish reasons.

    I wish people could truly hold each other accountable for their spamming of other people. I will participate this Friday of my top 5 people I follow.

    #

  5. James Kasel Jenkins July 26, 2010 at 11:31 pm // Reply

    Thanks for this. Our Cavemen selves were wondering what #ff was. Now we know!! Are we able to #ff relevant people to our niche (restaurant managers/operator/owners)?

    #

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