Farcical Friday – Follow Friday Loses Its Way

In writing this, I’m aware that I’m being hypocritical.  After all, I often engage in the Twitter phenomenon known as ‘Follow Friday’ (#FF).  But in recent weeks, I’ve really started to question the value of this social practice.

I read an interesting blog post this week by Kevin Ball, in which he highlighted some fascinating work by Mark Granovetter conducted in the 1970s.  Part of Granovetter’s findings showed that:

“We have strong ties with people in the same network as ourselves and these are slow in creating change.”

He also claimed:

“People with strong ties are in the same circles, they listen to the same sources and they learn nothing new from one another.”

And I think that social media can be just as cliquey.

If you think about the concept of social media as part of a grand concept, the possibilities are mind-blowing.  A connected world in which we have immediate access to human interactions – to collaborate, share, learn, converse, help, advise, support.

Don’t get me wrong; despite these philanthropic possibilities, I also enjoy the banal, informal chat and banter that channels such as Twitter provide.  But I see enclaves of users mixing purely in their immediate circle and communicating only with each other – and as I stated at the outset, this is something I am also guilty of.

And here’s where #FollowFriday comes in.

Every week, I tend to see the same people telling us to follow the same people – in many instances, we’re all following that person anyway.  The premise of Follow Friday is very good indeed – but how many of you actually start following someone based on a recommendation of your peers?  Say you follow 100 people and each person shares 3 Follow Fridays.  Do you start following 300 new people?  And in a week’s time, a further 900 people?

No.

For me, Follow Friday has become a way of publicly doffing one’s hat to someone they like – a way in which to show someone that they like them.  But in terms of a genuine mechanic to share like-minded people and promote digital integration and collaboration, I think that Follow Friday falls short, especially considering the sheer volume of Follow Fridays that are published every week.

The premise of Follow Friday is excellent – but I feel many Twitter users have lost sight of its original purpose.

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7 responses to “Farcical Friday – Follow Friday Loses Its Way

  1. A good point. But dont forget, our habits vary. People may ‘doff caps’ at a similar crowd, but as our following grows, that cap doffing, while repeated, goes out to new people, therefore growing the circle.

    I would also say that despite the feeling of being insular, social media and twitter in particular, have vastly broadened my connected network, way more so than linked in. The key is to continue the trend and not ‘settle’ on the current.

    I do agree that SM gets clique, and Twitter is an environment where this can really show up and it is annoying and offputting. But the beauty of twitter is that you are in total control. Dont like it? move on! Find others. Its steroid driven freedom.

    And my final word on #ff. I dont really care if its about doffing caps. thats a nice thing to do. Let it evolve. Lets not get the effing rule book out and introduce the #ff police #ffs… 😉

  2. I’m with you Cal. I do think the power of #ff has been massively diluted by the flurry of mass #ffs every Friday morning – very often being the same every week. They do tend to pass me by and I tend to ignore many – especially if there’s no reason stated for #ff’ing that person (ooerr missus).

    However, if someone I rate/like/trust/am influenced by etc #ffs someone along with a recommendation that’s of interest to me, then I do follow that person. I trust their judgment and there’s nothing like a recommendation from a person one trusts. So, for me, occasionally it does work.

    I also agree with Gareth on the rule book thing. I’m really happy for people to #ff to their heart’s content. I’ll make up my own mind whether to pay any attention to it or not.

    And, I can’t deny, when I get #ff’d (!!), I’m always flattered that that person has taken the time out to recommend me to their followers.

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Farcical Friday – Follow Friday Loses Its Way | The Social Symposium -- Topsy.com

  4. Some extremely valid points coming through here and also on Twitter. Can I just move to reiterate the fact that this post is not an all-out attack on Follow Friday, but an issue I felt important to raise.

    @Gareth

    Completely agree – In 2 years on Twitter, I’ve kept a core of the same people, with whom I’ve developed very good relationships, but also flittered between different groups of people. As you purport; that is indeed the beauty of Twitter.

    I also agree (vehemently) that we should not introduce ‘rules’ for Follow Fridays or social media. One of Twitter’s (and social media’s) great beauties lies in its unregulated openness, honesty and transparency – the Iran elections a case in point.

    I agree that it’s nice to be publicly ‘cap-doffed’ – and I enjoy doffing the virtual cap to people that I like too – but are any of my followers going to follow them as a result of that? Someone who follows me for my urban gardening exploits most probably will have no interest in the #ConnectingHR aspect of my tweets.

    @Abi

    Social media’s evolution is one of its greatest strengths; however it can also be a weakness. As you claim, the original intention of Follow Friday has been diluted so much, which is the point of the post.

    However, I do agree with your point that sharing a tweeter of real value exemplifies the collaborative nature of Twitter.

    I’m really considering doing some social research on Follow Friday and finding out how many of us actually do follow someone based on a #FF recommendation.

  5. That’s why I don’t do many #FFs. When I do I always give a reason why someone might want to follow.

  6. Good little debate you’ve encouraged here Callum, even from its humble tongue and cheek origin 🙂 I’m a rather stingy #FFer by many standards. One, maybe two a week, some weeks none. I’m an emotional #FFer – it comes from the heart, just like paying someone a genuine compliment. It can’t be forced. I have certainly followed people through #FFs, but only where the #FFer has taken the trouble to tell me why I should follow that person. Conversely I’ve unfollowed several people for sending out reams of #FF names without saying why. For me, as in ‘real life’ it’s all about being authentic (or not). Alison

  7. I’m the first to award a #FF to a genuinely deserving person – yes sometimes to say `thanks` publicly, so that others can see the good work – sometimes to just `doff a cap` – but also there are genuine reasons some weeks to use Twitter to publicly recommend someone who stands out.

    But. Yes Callum. You are right. My well meant #FFs are diluted by a barrage of pointless lists. Hell, one digital recruitment agency last friday listed 8 consecutive tweets with 6/7 people in each. #FF to over FIFTY people??? – seriously?? No meaning, no explanation, just list writing.

    I hope that someone will read my well described #FFs, but accept that the hypocrisy is that I do not read too many others. However, it should be a selfless action, and my hope is that some people will follow the recommendation or recognise the calibre of these people and create new relationships on my account.

    Just one of the frustrations of the popularity of the format I guess.

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