Twitter Tuesday #19–Ah, the Dreaded Follow Friday

Welcome to the nineteenth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. My tips will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

 

This Week’s Fail Whale–The #FF (Follow Friday) Blitzkrieg

Ah, Twitter. There are so many well-meaning ways we create to connect that, if not handled properly, can do more harm than good. In an effort to help all our friends know more people, we use #FF (Follow Friday), #MM (Military Monday), #WW (Writer Wednesday) and on and on. When we see # conversations like these it is intended to assist us in meeting new people…like a mixer on Twitter. Yet, executed improperly and others will feel as if they are being blasted with names.

One thing we must be mindful to remember is that not everyone 1) knows what #s do and 2) not everyone has Tweet Deck or a similar application. Why is this important? Well, a Twitter friend is only useful to us if he or she is actively participating. If we clog up their entire stream with name after name after name for apparently no reason, our actions will probably make them hate Twitter and hate us.

Most of us are gravitating to Twitter to have conversation and get a look at the links our friends found worthy of sharing. To have a peep butt in and blast us with 300 of their coolest friends can get…annoying.

Go back to the image I presented earlier….a mixer. Would you like it if somone you knew walked up to you and your friends, interrupted and said, “Hi, I would like you to meet Sally, Jim, Dave, Martha, Sheila, Jane, Henry, Fabio, Xena, Jack, Naomi, and George”?

“Um nice to meet yo–“

“Oh, and then I also think you should talk to Ursula, Victoria, Derrick, Nancy, Shawn, Kirsten, Beatrice, Larry, and Paula.”

“Well, we were just talking abou–“

“Oooh, and I almost forgot Mary and Thomas and Vernon and Yvette, Ralph, Sarah, Misty, Jojo, Steve, Barry, Patrick, Wayne and Quinton.”

Regardless how well-meaning your friend was, would this approach make you want to meet any of these people? Let alone become intimate and close friends?

Too often #FF makes me feel like I am back in high school….or giving a speech at the Oscars. Not only do I feel the need to recommend anyone who has ever spoken to me on Twitter, but then I need to thank them in return????

Oy vay! It makes me not want to #FF, #WW, or #MM at all….but isn’t there an alternative?

YES! So instead of feeling obligated to recommend every person we have ever tweeted with, let’s look to…

This Week’s Twitter Tip–The Savvy Social Tweep

The Savvy Social Tweep takes time to do introductions properly. He knows who he is introducing and works the “room” like a pro. Instead of interrrupting with a blast of names, Savvy Social Tweep is more deliberate and personal. He has the ability to make others feel like a million bucks, so his tweets are priceless.

“Excuse me, but it is #FF. You really must talk to @ClayMorganPA. He has the most amazing sense of humor and every word he tweets is gold. Now, what were you saying?”

Savvy Social Tweep knows that less is more and quality is far better than quantity. He might only have a handful of recommendations, but others take them far more seriously because they are hand-crafted, not blasted off an assembly line.

Also, because most of us fear failure and rejection and probably rarely get complimented, when others go out of their way to say something genuinely kind, sweet and complimentary….we are going to SAVE that tweet and that Savvy Social Tweep will always have a warm place in our heart.

Savvy Social Tweep is more highly regarded because he is clearly paying attention to others, and he has this rare ability to make others feel important and valued.

Twitter can have peer pressure. We feel the need to recommend everyone, and why wouldn’t we? There are so many AMAZING people on Twitter, how can we choose? We no longer have to. Well, not in the same way, at least.

If we only send out a handful of crafted recommendations, then others are less likely to feel left out, and more likely to want to make that elite list of ours. It is sort of like, no reasonable customer expects a cobbler who makes boots by hand to turn out a hundred pairs a week. Yet, if an assembly line fell short of that mark, we’d assume something was wrong. If we deliberately craft our recommendations, chances are, they will be more prized and valued.

Check out this FUNNY Oatmeal cartoon about the perils of #FF . Thank you Katja!

Tweet ya later!

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  1. #1 by pashortt on May 31, 2011 - 1:49 pm

    I did wonder what all the #FF and #WW meant!

  2. #2 by Piglet in Portugal on May 31, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    This is one of the most useful posts I’ve read about Twitter! I could never understand why people just blast lists of names…the approach you suggest is far better and I will def be following your advice :)
    Thanks
    PiP

  3. #3 by Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson on May 31, 2011 - 1:59 pm

    Clay Morgan is one of my favorite “frybers” (friend I met in cyberspace) and he does rock, so let’s just put that out there. And that tweet you cited sounds very much like the kind of thing that Piper Bayard does so very naturally. And you are right, when someone introduces you to someone you admire (say James Rollins, for example), it is so much easier to say hello.

    I recently (and rather stupidly) asked people to give me the names of their 3 favorite people to follow. Ummm, I said three. Well, I got lists and lists and, frankly, it was overwhelming.

    Enough to make this Jewish girl say, “Feh, enough with the Twitter already.”

    But I got back on the Twitter horse last night, and I decided that I would devote 15 minutes/3 days a week to connecting with people, introducing people to each other, and hopefully getting to meet one new person each time. I just cannot spend all day responding to pings and buzzes.

    But, as you said, I could not stay away because there really is a lot of great material out there – and as a college educator who is going to use strictly blogs to teach my Comp-101 class in the fall, I need to collect the best pieces of writing I can. When I see a name being tweeted repeatedly, it’s a good indicator that I need to check that person out. That’s how I found Mark Kaplowitz. ;-)

    • #4 by Piper Bayard on May 31, 2011 - 3:23 pm

      Aww, thanks, Renee. *warm fuzzies*

      • #5 by Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) on May 31, 2011 - 7:29 pm

        I too am glad Clay gets a well-deserved shout out as he is Mr. Share-the-Love-with-Others.

        And Piper does give the best #FF love ever.

        Thanks, Kristen. I will no longer feel guilty for not sending out mass #FF tweets.

    • #6 by Mark Kaplowitz on May 31, 2011 - 6:08 pm

      And I’m so glad you did, Renée! Thanks for being so supportive and leaving such great comments.

  4. #7 by Katja on May 31, 2011 - 2:02 pm

    This is why I try to spread out this awesome comic about the subject: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/follow_friday

    There’s plenty of Fridays to go so I only do one or two recommendations each Friday and take time telling why they should follow the one I link.

    And if I feel like it I do toss some recommendations some other weekdays also. When it’s only one now and then, people are usually happy to follow the Tweeps introduced to them.

    I hate seeing the massive #FF walls on Friday. Really won’t make me follow anyone of the people they’re linking – most likely I will unfollow the #FF spammer.

  5. #8 by Jane Sadek on May 31, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    Thank goodness you filled us in on these hashtags! Too much of the time on twitter, I feel like someone lost in a foreign country. Everyone around me is busy, happy and chatting, but I’m looking for the tourist information kiosk. Thanks for pointing me towards my destination.

  6. #9 by Jane Sadek on May 31, 2011 - 2:08 pm

    BTW – what in the world is a bot?

    • #10 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 31, 2011 - 2:17 pm

      Short for spam bot. There are computer programs out there tweeting. They aren’t actual people. Also there are misguided persons who believe that preprogramming automated tweets is just as good as being there and interacting for real. Yeah, good luck with that :D.

  7. #11 by slightlyignorant on May 31, 2011 - 2:34 pm

    Ahahaha, this was enjoyable. As a non-Twitterer, I can only enjoy this as an outsider looking in, but I enjoyed it nevertheless :).

  8. #12 by Madame Paradox on May 31, 2011 - 2:40 pm

    This just makes sense. And the analogy to a party where one is interrupted by 150 introductions at one time is perfect. I’ve had such mixed feelings about all of it, because on the one hand I know I’ve followed people because of friends recommendations. On the other hand I know it starts to feel like white noise.

    Another thing that bothered me, I feel like #WW ought to be different than #FF. So when I do a #WW mention I always try to highlight a writers work with a link. It’s a bit time consuming so I don’t #WW every week. But it just feels right to me.

    I will say I do like to say thank you, when someone goes to the trouble of MTing or FFing or RTing me. But what I hate is when people just randomly RT that already behemoth sized list of FF’s with a thank you on the front end. Then if 7 people were highlighted on that list, I get 49 thank you’s repeating that same list. I’m not sure I explained that correctly but hopefully you know what I’m talking about.

    Thanks for the post!

    • #13 by Les Howard on May 31, 2011 - 5:19 pm

      MT = ?

      • #14 by iwrite l 2writewithpassion on June 1, 2011 - 3:28 am

        MT = mention(ing). That’s when you use an @ symbol in front of someone’s name, meaning you are referring to them or speaking directly to them. I hope that’s right – couldn’t resist responding as I’m reading down through all the comments. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong. :-)

  9. #15 by Angela Wallace on May 31, 2011 - 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the warning. There are so many hastags I don’t know the meanings of. Now I know not to go running and screaming under my desk this Friday.

  10. #16 by Natalie C. Markey on May 31, 2011 - 2:52 pm

    Great post! I always limit myself to two different #FF blasts within specific areas so that way my followers no who I’m recommending. For example, I do a “writer” #FF tweet to cover my writing following and then I tweet a “pets” #FF to cover my pet related followers. By indicating who these #FF people are in a classified group it helps my followers know if they would want to follow these tweets as well.

    Happy Tweeting!

    Natalie

  11. #17 by Terrell Mims on May 31, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    Great post. I never thought of treating #FF like a small get-together and introducing a handful of quality people instead of blitzing. I know how that is like in public. “Um who are all you again?”

    Thanks for the post.

  12. #18 by DLFowler on May 31, 2011 - 3:19 pm

    Amen!!!!

  13. #19 by Piper Bayard on May 31, 2011 - 3:33 pm

    Awesome post. I have to say that one of my tweeps, @rynedp, sets the standard for #FF and #WW. He never shoots out a list of names. He hand crafts every recommendation, and he feeds them out gradually through the day. They are always clever, personal, and flattering. For example, he might say, “#FF @piperbayard who bellydanced secrets from the Three Chipmonks as Alvin played the drums.” He didn’t say that, but that’s the kind of thing he would say. I look forward to his #FF’s every week, and I can’t recommend him highly enough as an exemplary tweep.

    Great advice, Kristen.

  14. #20 by Clay Morgan on May 31, 2011 - 3:59 pm

    So true. Every word in this post is gold. I especially like the part about @ClayMorganPA :-) Thanks for that, and you are right about the #FF. At first I thought I wasn’t doing enough of that, but I was feeling the same things you mentioned above. One person I’ve noticed who sets the bar high is @EllieSoderstrom. She’s so good at personalizing things, and that’s what it’s all about.

  15. #22 by Anne R. Allen on May 31, 2011 - 4:19 pm

    Thank you, thank you! All those #FFs and #WWs make my eyes blur. I’ve never followed anybody whose name I saw on those lists, if I could even focus on one. But if somebody genuinely recommends somebody “Gotta follow @KristenLambTx, She’s brilliant.” you bet I’m clicking through.

  16. #23 by Gene Lempp on May 31, 2011 - 5:46 pm

    Right on target! I decided early on not to do #FF’s, while I appreciate being mentioned and will thank those that do so, it gets annoying when 80+ “follow these people” tweets come storming down my friends column and make the twitter notification bird scream a steady stream.

    Besides, it’s impersonal, and the entire point of Twitter is to be personal. Oh, by the way, if you want to meet a lot of excellent tweeps, #MyWANA is where they all hang out at :)

  17. #24 by Amy Sundberg on May 31, 2011 - 5:49 pm

    Yes! I love it when someone does a personal #FF for just a couple of people. Then I might actually have time to check them out. When I see a list of dozens of names, though, I just scroll by in a hurry.

  18. #25 by Pamela Mason on May 31, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    Ugh! I’m guilty!
    Now I’m trying to correct my mistakes and move on to a savvier, more personal twitterer.

    Gotta start somewhere… between you and the Oatmeal and Pat Thunstrom’s tutorials, I am making progress. Thank you for this!

  19. #26 by Linsey Lanier on May 31, 2011 - 6:30 pm

    I wouldn’t have know what #FF meant if I hadn’t read WANA first, LOL. I have seen those lists of names and gone “Huh? What am I supposed to do with that?” Love the Oatmeal post.

    Kristen, YOUR posts are gold. :)

    “An author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands”??? Is that really possible?

  20. #27 by Mark Kaplowitz on May 31, 2011 - 6:48 pm

    I found Twitter a little overwhelming at first, like a language I did not speak. Each one of these lessons deciphers another piece of it. With time I hope to be as fluent as Clay and Piper. Thank you, Kristen, for another educational post.

  21. #28 by amyshojai on May 31, 2011 - 7:24 pm

    Guilty as charged…but I never understood the purpose before now. Just thought it was more of a “thank you” to the folks who followed ME, not a recommendation for others to follow THEM.

    Duh.

    Actually gets me off the hook as there are soooooo dang many to name.

  22. #29 by Isis on May 31, 2011 - 7:57 pm

    I’m not a tweep convert yet. After I blogged about whether or not to Tweet, a few recommended your book so I just bought it. It’s a brilliant how-to manual for anyone looking to use social media. Now I’m using your blogs to learn the lingo and to get comfortable with tweeting. It’s not easy for many of us.

  23. #30 by amblerangel on May 31, 2011 - 8:29 pm

    Kristen, without your instruction on Twitter, I would not have bothered. I thought Twitter was Facebook for narcissists- Stars and public figures tweeting about where they were having lunch. Fortunately I found your web site and with the instructions provided, I dove in about a month before the Japan earthquake. It became the lifeline to the Embassy, the journalists posting the news before it was published, and all critical information I needed as most other information sources were in Japanese or unavailable as they tend to be in a national crisis. How reliant? One example, my tweeps shared locations of food and water stocked grocery stores. Honey- you could write a book of Haiku on diapers and I’d buy it. Thanks!

    • #31 by iwrite l 2writewithpassion on June 1, 2011 - 3:33 am

      @amblerangel: Love your comment: “I thought Twitter was Facebook for narcissists,,,,” Thanks for a chuckle.

  24. #32 by Shellie Sakai on May 31, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    Fantastic post! And thanks for the heads up about #FF. I have been feeling guilty about not doing it this last few weeks. I have just been thanking the people who #FF me. Now I will know exactly what to do this friday.

    Thanks again, Kristen!

  25. #33 by Orlando Ramos on May 31, 2011 - 9:30 pm

    Very nicely put. I agree 100% that when helping people connect you need to make a proper introduction.

  26. #34 by Siri Paulson on May 31, 2011 - 9:42 pm

    Yes! Thank you for putting it so clearly. I, too, have felt guilty about not participating in #FF – even though I have never once clicked through on one of those massive lists of names. And I’ve done what you suggest regarding introductions. Relieved to hear I’m on the right track and can release my guilt!

  27. #35 by Jess Witkins on June 1, 2011 - 12:10 am

    Thanks for explaining this, I just shied away cause I didn’t know what it was. Now it makes sense. You’re absolutely right about Clay, he was the first one to #FF me and he did so genuinely by stating my personality and that I’m a writer. Everyone that I met through him was also a writer, and some really cool ones at that. Great networking when done proper for sure! Nina Badzin is another helpful twitter blogger, posting on etiquette and meaningful tweets too. You’ll all appreciate this week’s post on how to say thank you for those RT’s and follows without irritating your followers with unnecessary name blasting tweets. http://ninabadzin.com/2011/05/31/the-twitter-thanking-crisis/

    • #36 by Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson on June 1, 2011 - 2:24 am

      Hi Jess! I feel like all my people are here! See Kristen, these are the cool kids who let me sit at their table. ;-)

  28. #37 by Patrick Thunstrom on June 1, 2011 - 12:57 am

    “Too often #FF makes me feel like I am back in high school…” Ironically, my very first tweet compared Twitter to high school. You and I think the same on #FF! I prefer well crafted #FFs than barrages. I typically skim the lists for handles I recognize, check their streams, and then MAYBE follow. But a well crafted #FF from someone I trust gets followed without the checking, most of the time.

  29. #38 by jfhilborne on June 1, 2011 - 2:24 am

    After reading this, my Twitter habits will change. I always felt guilty not returning the #WW and #FF mentions, but you’re absolutely right about the ones who take time to send a proper recommendation. I love those and do feel warmer toward the sender. Thanks for the post.

  30. #39 by iwrite l 2writewithpassion on June 1, 2011 - 3:47 am

    Kristen, we’ll all “follow” you to Hollywood when you are ready to give that speech as long as you “mention” all your #mywana tribe. :-)

    The FUNNY Oatmeal cartoon was definitely funny. I think we should all blast it out on Friday using #FF and the link, so all our followers can check it out.

    • #40 by theaatkinson on June 1, 2011 - 1:31 pm

      Jfhilborne

      I ALWAYS feel guilty. I’ve even had some folks DM me and ask me why I forgot them. talk about pressure. And I ALWAYS feel great too when someone crafts a good #FF about me. so I’m converted!

  31. #41 by theaatkinson on June 1, 2011 - 1:29 pm

    um. yup. been there. felt the pressure. gave in. I now give myself permission to do better. Thanks, Kristen.

  32. #42 by Nina Badzin on June 1, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    I say not only should you avoid sending a WW/FF for all of your followers, you should also NOT write thank you tweets to everyone who mentions you!!!! It’s TOO much! And it’s my deepest wish that people would stop RTIng whole lists of WW/FF–ESPECIALLY since a good portion of the time the person RTing doesn’t follow everyone on the list. Makes me crazy.

  33. #44 by Marilag Lubag on June 3, 2011 - 6:58 am

    Somehow, I found myself inundated by the tweets of other people. Normally, I RT their FF’s to say thank you. Recently, I just thanked the people who #ff’d me since it seem rude not to do so.

  34. #45 by Shéa MacLeod on June 16, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    I know you posted this yonks ago, but I just discovered your blog and am reading the archives. :-)

    This is probably the best news I’ve heard all year! I loathe sheer volume of boring tweets I get every single Friday. And Wednesday. And Tuesday. And… Just @ after @ after @. Ugh. WHY DO I WANT TO FOLLOW THESE PEOPLE? So they can blast me, too?

    Worse, I’ve been guilty of doing the same thing. Now I know better. And now I shall tweet smart. See ya on #FF!

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