Twitter: Part 2 – Two Views of #followfriday

by Ron on July 17, 2009

Michael Jackson news has Twitter swamped..
Image by Tim Patterson via Flickr

In Part 2 of this 2-part series,  Lisa Hoover talks about all the reasons she dislikes  Follow Friday. Yesterday her significant other, Joe Zonker Brockmeier told us why he likes it.

Guest post by Lisa Hoover

I’m going to go against the grain here and say that #FollowFriday makes me want to scream. I understand the intent behind it is to introduce your followers to some of your favorite Twitter users that they might otherwise miss. The problem is, should anyone care to look, Twitter already displays a handy list of the people you’re following so beating usernames every Friday is completely redundant.

Too Much Noise

I follow a few hundred people on Twitter and, believe me, when everyone starts dropping their #FollowFriday lists the signal-to-noise ratio becomes nearly unbearable. I can deal with the extra chatter when people are coming together over a hot topic like the Iran elections or even Michael Jackson. I can’t deal with it, though, when users are just barking out usernames with the rapidity of machine gunfire.

Now, you might be thinking, “But, I use #FollowFriday to highlight the people I find extra-special interesting!” In that case, I have to ask why you bother following anyone that you wouldn’t give a shout out to on #FollowFriday? Save for the Twitter accounts that serve a specific purpose like @comcastcares or @tivo, I like to think that virtually everyone my friends follow are worth knowing. Everyone I follow is fantastic and I’d be hard-pressed to single out just a handful.

Why Have a Special Day?

Some argue that #FollowFriday is just a handy way to introduce followers to people you find entertaining or interesting. But shouldn’t I be able to pick up those clues simply by noticing who you banter or chat with in 140-character bursts? Part of Twitter’s charm is catching snippets of conversations that pique your interest and make you want to find out who’s on the other side of the dialouge. I’ve met some of my favorite Tweeps that way.

Conversely, if I want my followers to notice someone I think is the cat’s meow I won’t wait until #FollowFriday to say so. I think a random Tweet telling others about Tina’s beautiful handmade jewelry (@etsytinahdee) or Justin’s hysterical avatars (@justinryan) is far more noticeable when it’s not caught in the crush of 7,000 other similar Tweets.

Online social networking is very similar to getting to know people in person. If I come to your house for a cocktail party, I don’t want you to hand me a list of the people you think are worth talking to. I want to discover them for myself and let relationships form naturally. Let me find people on Twitter the same way.

Nothing More Than Spam

One of my biggest issues is with Follow Friday, however, is that it’s being exploited and sometimes comes perilously close to spam. Lately, I’ve been seeing an uptick in offers to be recommended on #FollowFriday in exchange for a blog comment or Re-Tweet. I’ve also seen users send out 6 or 7 Tweets in rapid succession naming virtually everyone on their follow list. What started out as a chance for people to form new friendships is turning into yet another popularity contest or a way to artificially inflate your number of followers.

The idea behind #FollowFriday was a good one but it’s really been taken to the extreme, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. The meme’s originator, Micah Baldwin (@micah), <a href=”http://twitter.com/micah/status/1125642106″>doesn’t even participate anymore</a>.

Is it #FollowFriday already? Time to log off Twitter for the day.

Lisa Hoover is a freelance technology writer who writes the Evolving Web Blog at Computerworld. You can follower on Twitter under the handle @Lisah.  Just don’t expect her to give you a #followfriday shout out.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MaraBG July 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

I agree with many of your points. Not everyone I follow is “followfriday-worthy”. Some I follow because of the occasional morsel of news about a topic that I care about. Others, because they are children of friends, and I’ve said I’d keep an eye on them. My beef with #FF is that I don’t add anyone that way, so why would anyone else? I can already see the stream of people I admire. I can look at who they follow, who they tweet with regularly. That’s enough.

Everyday, I introduce people. It goes like this: Joe, I’d like you to #meet Mike. He sails small craft and is a writer like you. You’re both funny.

Inevitably, I get a tweet from one or both of them sometime later thanking me for the introduction because they have so much in common. No cluttering the stream, no hurt feelings when I leave someone out.

2 Roddee July 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

The premise for #followfriday is a good one. I get a kick out of being recognized and I love to give love to my Tweeples but very seldom receive any follows that reflect the spirit of the #followfriday.

Today is #followfriday. I have blocked all but one. That one is A real Tweeting interacting person with a personal story.
Meanwhile my name is being passed around by stranger to strangers that want more Followers not me.

I like MaraBG’s method.
Keep the spirit not the activity of #Followfriday

3 Allison July 31, 2009 at 7:07 pm

“If I come to your house for a cocktail party, I don’t want you to hand me a list of the people you think are worth talking to. ” EXACTLY! I really like this point. While I’ve never had a strong opinion one way or another about Follow Friday, I think with how many of my close friends and family members joining Twitter the past 6 months or so, it’s time to start getting rid of the extra noise. It’s hard to make meaningful relationships with strangers, but those that last and are meaningful to you should know it. They don’t need your #followfriday approval. Or, why not give personal recommendations? That’s akin to introducing two people at a party you think would hit it off. I vote yes to personal recommendations, no to mass blasts.

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