Be a Tweep, Not a Tool Part 2–Beware the #FF Fire Hose

Ah, Twitter. There are so many well-meaning ways we create to connect that, if not handled properly, can do more harm than good. Last week, in Be a Tweep, Not a Tool–How Hashtags (#) Can Win Friends and Influence Enemies, I explained what that # thingy is, what it does and how it can get us digitally tarred and feathered if we engage in certain hashtag behaviors. Technically, this was Part One, though I didn’t know it at the time. A lot of folks wanted to know about the #FF (Follow Friday) and how this should be properly handled….thus, I bring you Be a Tweep Not a Tool Part Deux.

So what do we do about Follow Friday? What is it? Why would we use it? How do we use our Tweeting powers for good, not evil?

What is Follow Friday (#FF)?

In an effort to help all our friends know more people, we can 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 and drinking from a digital fire hose.

How can #FF make people want to set us on fire  dislike us?

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.”‘

Oh, and then Mary says, “Thanks for introducing me to Thomas, Vernon, Yvette, Ralph, Sarah, Misty, Mojo. Steve, Barry, Patrick. Wayne and Quinton.”

“But I–”

“And you simply must meet Ingrid, Shawn, Flip, Skippy, and Lunesta.”

“Yes, but when you interrupted I was actually talking to–”

“Oh, and make sure you become BFFs with Alice, Harry, Inglebert, Ernie, Chad, Frank, and Lulu.”

“I give up. I hate you all.”

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…

Being a 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.

And just to finish off with a laugh, check out this FUNNY Oatmeal cartoon about the perils of #FF . Thank you Katja!

So what are your thoughts? Feelings? Opinions? Do you feel like you are drinking from the #FF Fire Hose and it makes you dread Fridays? Share! I love hearing from you.

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of December I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!

This Week’s Mashup of Awesomeness

America the Booty-Call by my running mate Piper Bayard. America is a proud nation of hard-working decent people and we are NO ONE’S booty call. Remember Bayard-Lamb 2012 At Least We’re Not Them

Writing Advice that Will Save You Five Years via Glimmertrain

The Art of the Creative Pause (+ Not being Amazon’s Bitch) by Justine Musk

The Art of Fielding by the awesome Porter Anderson over at Reader Unboxed and make sure you always follow Porter’s Writing on the Ether to keep up with the latest and greatest in publishing

Step One in Marketing Your Book by Lit Agent Chip MacGregor

10 Creative Ways to Express Your Inner F-Bomb by the hilarious Jenny Hansen

Books vs. Movies: To Kill a Mockingbird by Tim O’Brien

Wonderful inspirational piece Putting Words in God’s Mouth by Jennifer K Hale

Fun writing exercise by Annette Gendler Shades of Gray

HYSTERICAL post by Myndi Shafer The Grinch is Pregnant

Could You Hunt Trolls? by Alicia McKenna Johnson. Yes, the title alone deserves a shout-out.

Th XOJane Real Girl Belly Project Part 2 Awesome stuff!

WONDERFUL post by Marcy Kennedy Who’s Your Unicorn? (Caution: Get tissues before reading)

Interesting debate over human psychology and Joe Paterno. Read Colin Falconer’s For Evil to Triumph and Sj Driscoll’s The Devil Made Me Do It

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  1. #1 by Lori Dyan on December 7, 2011 - 9:18 am

    You are my Twitter Mentor (Twentor?). I loathe the obligation I feel to respond to #FF and I never do them because it feels so invasive and impersonal. Your approach is perfect and this Friday I shall endeavour to work the room like the rent’s due tomorrow.😀

  2. #2 by August McLaughlin on December 7, 2011 - 9:19 am

    Terrific post, Kristen. I only recently learned what #FF means. Inclusion in thoughtful #FFs make me feel all warm & fuzzy… When I know the poster as well, I often check out the others’ listed and make new friends. When I’m included in a laundry list (‘fire hose’ sounds much better – LOL), however, it feels…oh, I dunno…cheap?? I’ve noticed Tweeps who seem to use #FFs only to boost their numbers. Mucho uncool.

  3. #3 by Tameri Etherton on December 7, 2011 - 9:28 am

    A Twentor! Love that. I just wish a few of my friends on Twitter would read this post. I do appreciate them wanting to introduce me to some fabulous Tweeps, but it would be nice to just have a handful at a time. 167 at once is a bit much. Okay, so that was an exaggeration, but sometimes it feels like that many. Not so much fun to slog through.

    • #4 by Tameri Etherton on December 7, 2011 - 9:32 am

      Oops, I was so distracted by the shiny #FF I forgot to say, great mash up! Marcy Kennedy’s Unicorn post has stayed with me all week. It was so lovely.

  4. #5 by Maryann Miller on December 7, 2011 - 9:29 am

    Thanks for the link to the Oatmeal cartoon lesson. That was so cute. And thanks for explaining how to use #FF effectively and courteously. Up to now I have pretty much ignored the FF as I would be overwhelmed with those posts that had a jilliion names, and I was never sure how it should work. Now I know.

  5. #6 by Coleen Patrick on December 7, 2011 - 9:38 am

    You read my mind Kristen! I was wondering this morning about the lists, mostly because I’ve noticed my “me” column in Tweetdeck recently being filled with lists created by people that don’t follow me (and vice versa)–with twitter handles that include “ATM” or “Vitamins.” Spammed! Ack.
    Thanks for helping me (again!) navigate the Twitter.

  6. #7 by SJ Driscoll on December 7, 2011 - 9:42 am

    All those #FF’s did make me cringe, like I was being hosed down. Thanks for an excellent alternative. And thanks for the pingback, Kristen! (Now that I know what that is.)

  7. #8 by Rhonda Lane on December 7, 2011 - 9:47 am

    Ya know, I used to thank everyone who listed me for #FF until I saw that half of them probably went through their Follower list and listed EVERY Freakin’ One.

    Still, I’m new enough that I’m thrilled somebody mentioned my name, so I try to write them a nice thank you. But those bulk #FF folk who mention me at every opportunity – and I know who they are – are losing their charm. They make it hard to live a life with gratitude. Just sayin.’

    Another thing that starting to bug me nowadays is this whole news aggregator page thing that’s drawing from Twitter, like those paper.li sites. It looks like an automated mashup. Yeah, they list my name, too, but for a link I retweeted but had nothing to do with writing. ::grumble, groan::

    Okay. I’m done channeling Andy Rooney. Off to trim my eyebrows.

  8. #9 by Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos on December 7, 2011 - 9:51 am

    I hate #FF too. I never know what to say. Especially when they say at the end of them that they were picked from some #FF random generator. I wanna say, Gee, don’t I feel special that a computer chose to honor me, but I refrain. I love your suggestion of making introductions to people rather than lists. Great advice, as always.

  9. #10 by Melinda VanLone on December 7, 2011 - 10:02 am

    I totally agree. I found #FF to be overwhelming and annoying so I never participated. In general I don’t even look at Twitter that day because the feed is so full of stream after stream of names. I might do something like you suggest though. Maybe not on Fridays.😉

  10. #11 by ReadingDiva on December 7, 2011 - 10:02 am

    Great post – thanks for sharing!

  11. #12 by Catherine Johnson on December 7, 2011 - 10:16 am

    Yes sometimes I do dread Fridays and I’ve naughtily gone back to list #FF but its so hard, its not so much peer pressure as guilt. If everyone could just stop at the same time it would be cool. I love your idea of being more personal and will try really hard to lose the guilt and look forward to friday tweeting again. I have to say though I have followed people in lists from being introduced, but really do I need to follow more anyway🙂 Thanks!!!

  12. #13 by Myndi Shafer...one stray sock away from insanity. on December 7, 2011 - 10:37 am

    Oh, the #FF’s! *shudder* So well-intended…but you know what they say about good intentions, right? 🙂

    Thanks for the shout-out Ms. Kristen! ❤

  13. #14 by kristin nador on December 7, 2011 - 10:38 am

    Great post, Kristen. I’m still somewhat of a Twitter novice, but I know enough to know about #FF, just not how it was supposed to work. How I see it usually work is just like your fire hose analogy, so I never participated. I would never recommend everyone on my list, just because I know there are some people who are not very active, and isn’t that the point of all this Twitter business, activity that promotes relationship? A better strategy might be to only do one or two #FF, but do them every day, so there’s plenty of opportunity to meet quality Tweeps. A day set aside for Tweep discovery seems practical, but a Twitter stream glutted with #FF just overwhelms and irritates, as you have so accurately described here. Thanks for taking up this cause for those of us wanting to be good Tweeps, but getting frustrated. I bow to your wisdom, Twitter sensei.🙂

  14. #15 by deanne wilsted on December 7, 2011 - 10:57 am

    as always, an article filled with great advice and help. One follow-up question to last week…. how do i get rid of the # when i retweet? I can’t seem to get in to change it. Any advice? thanks so much!

    • #16 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 7, 2011 - 10:58 am

      Are you using an information management tool like Tweet Deck?

      • #17 by deanne wilsted on December 7, 2011 - 1:46 pm

        not yet…. i saw your mentions of it in your blog. do i need one?

        • #18 by Rhonda Lane on December 7, 2011 - 1:48 pm

          Some of us are fond of TweetDeck, which is an app you install on your computer.

          Others, like HootSuite, you can access as a website. I imagine a lot depends on how much memory your machine has.

          Mine “didn’t like” TweetDeck after a while, so I had to switch to HootSuite.

        • #19 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 7, 2011 - 1:56 pm

          I found Twitter horribly confusing until I downloaded Tweet Deck. It’s too hard to see what is going on. Try downloading Tweet Deck, but be warned. The tweeting notifications will drive you nuts so you need to go into your Settings (icon that looks like a wrench) and change them. Click Settings, then Notifications and at the bottom of the page you will see “Advanced Columns for Options.” Uncheck everything but mentions of your name or Twitter will automatically notify you of…everything.

        • #20 by deanne wilsted on December 16, 2011 - 2:57 pm

          a belated thanks for the help. it will be my new years resolution. happy holidays.

  15. #21 by K.B. Owen on December 7, 2011 - 11:09 am

    Hi, Kristen!

    Before I felt comfortable on Twitter, I used to worry that I was forgetting tweeps when I’d do #FFs, and it just felt crazy. I was actually writing lists to keep track!

    It was such a relief when I stopped. After all, peeps weren’t hanging on my every tweet (really? aw, shucks) and comparing who I was tweeting about and who I wasn’t. It feels so much nicer to single out someone who just inspires me to want to share. And it means the world when someone tweets about me (hey, it can happen, lol).

    BTW, I want to meet Xena. Not Lunesta, though – that gal puts me to sleep.😉

  16. #22 by educlaytion on December 7, 2011 - 11:21 am

    I don’t know what it is about this combination of names you used–“Flip, Skippy, and Lunesta”–but I can’t stop cracking up! I was already laughing when I got to that part and then just lost it. Thanks for the kind shout too. And I LOVE that you got a link from Chip in there. He’s brilliant.

  17. #23 by Juliana on December 7, 2011 - 11:32 am

    This is EXACTLY why I completely ignore all #FF’s. The only person’s I pay attention do, does just what you said. Each #FF mentions only one person and it’s personalized. Perfect.

  18. #24 by Jenny Hansen on December 7, 2011 - 11:37 am

    I agree 100%. I do get warm and fuzzy about the #FF from people I interact with, or when I’m included in a list from people I know, but the #FF generators make me just crazy. How is that special? I’m just sayin’….

    Thanks for the linky love – that’s one of my favorite posts ever. And right ON for Clay being a magic social media guy. I love watching him come across my TweetDeck stream – I always smile.

    • #25 by educlaytion on December 7, 2011 - 9:56 pm

      You, madam, rock.

      • #26 by Jenny Hansen on December 8, 2011 - 3:05 am

        See what I’m saying? How fun is “Madam?!”….I want some sassy feathers to go with that title. And possibly a bordello.
        🙂

  19. #27 by leogodin217 (@Leo_Godin) on December 7, 2011 - 11:46 am

    Thanks for writing this. #FF is one of the coolest things on Twitter, while at the same time being one of the most annoying things on Twitter.

    Just curious, how do you feel about people who retweet a #FF? I believe anyone you retweet it to already has it in their timeline. It’s bad enough, we see the inane lists, but retweets double or tripple the garbage in our timeline.

  20. #28 by Marcy Kennedy on December 7, 2011 - 11:50 am

    I really value well done #FFs, and I tend to follow whoever is recommended, but when someone sends out a big batch of names (or batch after batch), I rarely click on any of them. And I do feel like I’m somehow obligated to respond even though I was just included in a bunch. It’s awkward. One person that I’ve noticed often does #FFs well is @MaryDemuth. They’re usually something simple like “She makes me laugh” but it still shows she took the time.

    P.S. Thank you so much for including me in today’s mash-up🙂🙂

  21. #29 by Emma Burcart on December 7, 2011 - 12:01 pm

    Thanks for clarifying. I have been annoyed by the lists of names I don’t know, so have not been participating at all in follow friday. Now I know that if I de decide to do it, it will be one at a time. Right now I don’t even like to check Tweet Deck too often of Friday. You’re example of what it would be like in person was perfect! I hope everyone reads it.

  22. #30 by timlobrien on December 7, 2011 - 12:24 pm

    Once again thank you for the great advice. I still have much to learn and understand about twitter and hashtags. Your two blogs about this has helped a great deal. Now I am a little gun shy to use twitter at all. Call me stupid, because I still really don’t get it.
    And thank you for the “linky love” as Jenny put it. I was shocked to be included and very honored!

    • #31 by Jenny Hansen on December 8, 2011 - 3:08 am

      Tim, isn’t linky love by Kristen the serious Wednesday turbo charge?? The first time I was included in the mashup of awesomeness I made everyone I knew (who wouldn’t think I was demented) go to the page and look at my name on the list.

      It’s a moment, no?

  23. #32 by karenselliott on December 7, 2011 - 12:56 pm

    I cringe every time Friday rolls around. And I avoid all those lists, which always seem a little silly to me. Your way to introduce people is much better! And more personal.

  24. #33 by Fabio Bueno on December 7, 2011 - 12:58 pm

    I soooo needed this lesson. Tweeting seems to be an art. Thanks, Kristen.

  25. #34 by Rosie Cochran on December 7, 2011 - 1:15 pm

    Great post! I like this idea MUCH better than the plain list. Much more personal. And really, isn’t that what social media is supposed to be about, personally interacting with others?🙂 Thanks.

  26. #35 by Karen McFarland on December 7, 2011 - 1:38 pm

    Until today I’ve never heard of an #FF and I’m still not sure what you’re talking about. Twitter seems to be the hardest social media tool for me to grasp. Well the whole thing really. I guess I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. But twitter has me spinning. I’m testing out the waters. God I hope I’m not irritating anyone. Can I just go hide under a rock? LOL!!!

    • #36 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 7, 2011 - 1:43 pm

      You are making it too complicated. It is simple and that’s why it is stumping you😀. Twitter is just like IM, without the annoyance. You can eavesdrop, chat or be the life of the party and you can listen to or talk to anyone who happens to be on Twitter.

  27. #37 by Marcia on December 7, 2011 - 3:19 pm

    It was only a few months ago that I figured out what #FF is. I, too, find it annoying especially when someone I don’t know is sending me a long list and even when I’m include in a long list. Trying to get on top of tweeting something worth reading and doing it more regularly. Thanks for more great advice!

  28. #38 by alicamckennajohnson on December 7, 2011 - 3:41 pm

    I always forget about #FF and then feel guilty when people add me to a group of people to follow. Now that I now the best way to do it I’ll make an effort to post about people who stick out in my mind.

  29. #39 by emmiemears on December 7, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    I always try to make sure that the people I mention for #FF etc. are all mentioned for a specific reason and in small doses. I’ve rarely done more than one tweet, and never more than maybe 4 people. Usually it’s one or two for the day. Found some awesome Tweeps that way, which I suppose is the point!

  30. #40 by nancyelizabethlauzon on December 7, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    Love your post. It makes so much sense. I try to connect with people who have similar interests or opinions. The way I would if I were at a cocktail party, like you said. My other pet peeve about Twitter is people who follow thousands of people. It’s impossible to really know 5,000 people, so is it some kind of competition?

  31. #41 by Marji Laine on December 8, 2011 - 1:45 am

    When I’m in a list of #FF, I thank the sender for a mention (without the long list of names) but I don’t feel obliged to offer #FF. Wasn’t sure what it was until recently! (Thanks for the confirmation.) I figure I’m highlighting folks I like when I retweet what they say.

  32. #42 by Debra Kristi on December 8, 2011 - 2:00 am

    Thank you sooo much for addressing this. It has been a bee in my bonnet for some time now.

  33. #43 by Deidra Alexander on December 8, 2011 - 2:29 pm

    Thanks, I get so many of these follow thingies, I can no longer keep up. I feel a little better.

  34. #44 by A. M. (Anne) Hargrove on December 8, 2011 - 4:54 pm

    OMG…I don’t know what I’d do without you Kristen! First, WANA and now the true way to handle #FF. I am totally new to Twitter and I have felt like I’ve been on a strange planet trying to figure out this stuff. Awesome post and if I didn’t already say it…many thanks!

  35. #45 by Sherry Roberts (@SherryRoberts7) on December 8, 2011 - 6:01 pm

    So right, Kristen. I do few #FF and only with qualifers like #FF @so&so because he tells all about wine or she gives great writing tips. I want these referrals to be meaningful to my followers and to the people I am recommending.

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