Using Twitter Effectively: 6 Rules for an Effective Follow Friday

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One fateful friday in January 2009, @micah sent out a tweet that still echoes weekly in the twittersphere:

I am starting Follow Fridays. Every Friday, suggest a person to follow, and everyone follow him/her. Today is @fancyjeffrey & @w1redone.

What began as a simple idea is now a full-blown weekly phenomenon on Twitter. #FF may have started small, but nowadays there are so many #FF updates rolling through your followers’ streams that it’s easy to get lost in the mix. If you stick to these six rules, though, your #FF updates will start to get the attention they deserve.

  1. Only #FF interesting tweeters. This should be obvious. The first step toward an effective #FF is to tweet people your followers will actually care about. Do it enough, and they’ll start paying more attention to your recommendations. Start recommending boring people, though, and your followers will stop listening altogether.
  2. Don’t share the same tweeters over and over again. Again, this is common sense. Recommending the same people week after week is a great way to get ignored by your followers. Finding new people to recommend each week shouldn’t be a problem; there are plenty of interesting tweeters out there. (Follow @toptweets if you don’t believe me.) If you have someone you really want to share again, the rule of thumb is to wait at least a month.
  3. Include a blurb about who you’re recommending and why they’re interesting. Your followers are busy and unlikely to follow up on just a name, so you need to make them care about your recommendation with a short description in your tweet. Which is the better #FF?

    1. #FF - @WeaselMomma @B666V @daniellericks @JulieVessigault @Rae_Brat @AnnemarieHen @AirlineReporter @navyaircrewman @geekydewd
    2. #FF @VeganVita Singer/Songwriter, Kungfu/Tai Chi Instructor. An original Boondock Bettie!

    Number 2, hands down. If you use the second format, you’ll see your #FF impact skyrocket as people actually start paying attention to your recommendations.

  4. Try not to #FF more than one person in the same tweet. Two is OK too, but it’s hard to follow rule (3) for two people in the same tweet. If you #FF any more than 2 people in the same tweet, things start to get noisy and your followers will just ignore it. Instead, #FF each person in his or her own tweet.
  5. #FF 2-4 tweeters each week. 2-4 is ideal because your followers will notice even 2 recommendations more than they’ll notice 1, but 4 still won’t overload your followers and make them ignore your #FFs. A steady stream of 2-4 good #FFs per week will get your recommendations noticed and acted upon. More or less from week to week is OK, but try to send at least 1 #FF each week. Never send more than 10.
  6. Share different kinds of people with different kinds of interests. Variety is the spice of life. Your followers aren’t all the same, so your #FF recommendations shouldn’t be, either. A good formula is to send out one or two “celebrity” tweeters you think your followers will find interesting — @ebertchicago, @kellyoxford, @aplusk — and a couple less well-known tweeters you think your followers will like.

Follow these 6 rules, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming your followers’ favorite #FF yourself.