The truth behind Follow Friday

A jolly little cartoon just popped up in my Twitter feed (thanks @lewsisshields) making an entertaining point about the Follow Friday phenomenon- namely that nobody ever follows the people suggested in such tweets. But actually I think this kind of misses how Follow Friday is more frequently used today.

 

For those who don’t know, the traditional idea is that Twitter users suggest people for others to follow and tag the tweet with #FF. In practice, what you see is a lot of people tagging co-workers, family or the already famous like Stephen Fry without thinking about whether or not anyone would want to follow those people.

Some of the better FFs include a little description of what you’re likely to receive from the recommended account which does help things a little. But to me, the implicit function it more frequently performs is much more closely related to the previous example above than this more faithful employment.

Reputation and Recommendation

littlemanFor all its interactivity, it’s easy to bumble along with your Twitter account and couple of thousand followers and only actually interact with a reasonably small handful. As a result, it’s easy to forget how many people out there are actually listening to and seeing what you’re tweeting.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of a Follow Friday nomination, it’s hard to deny that it can be quite flattering and a nice boost for the ego. But it also makes you aware of this audience and gives them a way to show their appreciation. I’d argue that this is good for the sense of community, especially when it comes from someone you respect.

The Real Function of Follow Friday

But Follow Friday is first and foremost a mechanism to express your respect for fellow tweeters. Even in the case of those who are making a recommendation, this effect is served implicitly.

There are respectable and revealingly off-putting ways to deploy this service (nobody likes a suck-up) but for many of the people mystified by this phenomenon and looking only at the surface, I think they should look a little deeper. Sometimes it’s good to highlight the people in your Twitter feed who are just bloody excellent to follow and after all, good manners never hurt anyone, right?

Go on, give it a try. You might just like it…

- Max Tatton-Brown

December 10th, 2010