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?
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.