Why I’m Opting Out of #FollowFriday

Any social media expert/ninja/guru worth his or her salt will tell you that engagement is the key to getting results out of online activities. And yet, at the end of every work week, the Twitterati collectively engage in one of the least personalized and most automated of interweb interactions.

I’m talking about #FollowFriday. And I want out.

Last Friday, as my stream was flooded with #FF messages, I tweeted out a thought:

Millions of people are tagged each week in #FF posts. That sounds like a nice idea, but  most of the Tweets are really just a list of names without context. If I want to know who you’re following, I’ll visit your profile page. I believe that – for many of these users – #FF is a ruse by which they fish for reciprocation; after all, it’s impolite to not return a compliment (or at least say thank you). #FollowFriday – once a way to learn about new users on an emerging social media platform – has devolved into a system in which people solicit ReTweets and mentions without generating useful content.

Of course, not every #FF is a selfish act masquerading as benevolence. My friend, Jen Price, tweeted at me that she enjoys the practice. “When #FF is done well, with a reason for following, I find new people to follow. I appreciate the introductions to new folks.”

Jen is right…when people share details and make introductions, #FollowFriday can be a valuable tool. It’s just that 99% of #FF messages ignore that basic common sense. I’ve seen some people use the hashtag #WhyIFollow, while including a bit about the person. Ephraim Gopin has been known to use the hashtag #YFF (the Y is for WHY) and do the same thing. Aren’t these tactics more helpful?

Even after acknowledging the small numbers of folks who do it “right,” the sheer majority of bad #FF Tweets has pushed me to the breaking point. I appreciate each and every time I’m mentioned in someone’s #FollowFriday tweet, but please know that I will never again publicly thank you or RT your mention. It’s not that I don’t care…it’s not even that I don’t think you legitimately enjoy the content I generate. It’s just that I think there’s a more genuine way to point your audience in my direction, especially if you think my Tweets, blog posts and/or ideas would interest them.

Groucho Marx once famously said that he would never be part of any club that would have him as a member. The #FF Brigade is actively evangelical and would accept anyone with its ranks…isn’t that reason enough to be wary?

What do YOU think? Do you participate in #FollowFriday? Do you RT your #FF mentions? Why or why not?

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5 thoughts on “Why I’m Opting Out of #FollowFriday

  1. Interesting discussion. Yes, long lists of people are not helpful, and would could argue a ‘misuse’ of what can be a very useful practice. I agree with Jen – when someone explains why you should #followfriday someone it can be a very good recommendation to follow them and a very helpful practice. Most of those I follow practice it this way and I value their recommendations.

    • Thanks for your comments, Bonnie! I agree that #FF can and should be a valuable tool; I suppose I should follow more of the people you do, because my stream gets filled up with “lists” rather than “recommendations.”

      Cheers!

  2. Well said, Matt! I’ve seen Ephraim’s more personalized, individualized approach more than once, too, and taken together I appreciate that approach more than the general #FF. Reading your post made me really think about why I engage in #FF tweets and what I get out of it. I realized that it’s more about letting my favorite tweeps know I appreciate them and have enjoyed our interactions that week, rather than a tool to educate others about who to follow (though if it generates good followers and opportunities for engagement for them, that’s cool, too). Anyways, thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your posts. You just might see me tweeting #WhyIFollow with renewed vigor.

    • Susan – thanks for adding your thoughts! I’m exceptionally happy that I was able to encourage you to think about how and why you utilize #FollowFriday…and honestly, even if you choose to keep the status quo, that’s cool too (you #FF’d me yesterday, which was both ironic AND appreciated).

      I always appreciate the content YOU share, as well as your charm and friendliness. So in case anyone is interested, that’s #WhyIFollow @WinGrants.

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