What is #FollowFriday and how to do it correctly?

TGI #FollowFridayEvery Twitter user is familiar with the often used hashtag #FollowFriday or #FF which appears with weekly predictability on Fridays. But what is #FF about and how can you use it to promote people on your network and discover new people to follow?

Follow Friday emerged in the early days of Twitter as a way to express gratitude to people by helping them grow their follower counts. By tweeting out a short message of recommendation, including the #FollowFriday (or, later, the #FF) hashtag, Twitter users invented a powerful way to promote others who used the service effectively. Of course, like most community initiatives, #FollowFriday soon became a victim of its own success with spammers using the hashtag to promote spambots and others using it to promote friends and family regardless of whether they were good Twitter citizens or not. And, worst of all, some automated services now indiscriminately pump out a #FF tweet every Friday featuring a long list of user names, irrespective of whether they are good Tweeters or not.

To use FollowFriday effectively, you need to understand that it should be about QUALITY, not quantity. It’s far better to recommend one or two people with a short justification than to robotically tweet out a meaningless list of names. This sort of tweet is as commonplace as it is pointless:

Cross markDon’t do this:
Bad FF example

Conversely, @whatleydude gets it spot on in this example below:

CheckmarkDo do this:
Good FF example

A few other quick tips:

  • Be sure to start your tweet with #FollowFriday or #FF to indicate its purpose.
  • If you start with the @name of the person you’re recommending, the tweet will only go to those who already follow both you and the person you’re recommending, thereby completely defeating the purpose of the #FF!
  • Not all automated FollowFriday tools are bad. For example, http://followfridayhelper.com allows you to create personalised recommendations for people you’ve recently interacted with. But, annoyingly, it also allows you to create multi-person FollowFriday tweets too so be careful to select the right option.
  • Apps are also available on most mobile phone platforms that can remind you to create a FollowFriday message or even pre-schedule your tweets in advance. Again, be careful not to fall into the lazy automated multi-person tweet trap.
  • You can also use desktop tools like CoTweet and Tweetlater to pre-schedule your FollowFriday tweets if you wish.
  • Always include an explanation of why you recommend someone to help your followers decide if they might like to follow them as well.
  • Use FollowFriday in moderation. If you tweet #FF too often, your messages will start to lose their impact. Be highly selective and your followers will be more likely to thank you for the tips.