On Twitter Follow Fridays and Why I Rarely Participate

I’ve been feeling more than a bit guilty about very rarely returning the favor for people who include me in their TwitterFollow Fridays“, so I felt a short explanation was in order. Please do keep in mind that there are the exceptions that do break the rule and do not fall under the following umbrella, but:

  1. I find this practice loses most of its impact as posters try to cram as many users in 140 characters as possible, therefore not explaining why you should or might want to follow the people they list. This ultimately shifts the effort to whoever decides to go investigate the suggested users on their own, which in and of itself rather defeats the purpose of human-powered suggestions at its base.
  2. Compound the latter with the fact that people do not want to offend anyone and end up posting (or reposting) dozens of them throughout the day, and the value of such a practice is now quasi-entirely diluted, often annoying even.
  3. An increasing number of people (aka: spammers) really use the #followfriday (or #ff) tag to ultimately bring their own follower count up or similarly, to increase the follower count of users that are in fact directly tied to themselves (pseudonyms, their clients, etc) and for their own benefit.

In the end, you pretty much end up with two types of new followers through the above patterns:

  1. people who will not take the time to find out why they should follow you and will just follow anyone in a sheep-like fashion (meh, rarely valuable from a conversational perspective)
  2. or people who once again will simply add you in hope that you will automatically follow back and possibly bring their own follower count by one more person.

All this said, I do truly relate to the concept of recommending people as subjects of interest to your friends and I in fact do follow a few very good individuals discovered through the Follow Friday meme. This is in part why you will find me reposting (retweeting, redenting, etc) other people’s posts maybe more than others do (or would want), which I think gives a much clearer indication of why following (or sometimes avoiding) a person could be valuable to you.

So there you have it. Since I’m not against the concept, just its increasingly usual application, I’ll try to add my own twist to it all instead, aiming to retain its intended spirit while making it as valuable for you, the subject(s) and myself as possible. The other perspective here is that I’d also very much like to do the same for services other than Twitter, such as Identica, Vimeo, Flickr, etc.

So in the end, I have decided to start proceeding with something that I somewhat did in my post on WordCamp Montreal 2009: I’ll use my blog to not only tell you why you might want to follow the people I’ll showcase, but also why you maybe should follow them on some services rather than others (EG: someone might post incredible photos on Flickr, yet be a total waste of your time on Twitter).

For this week, you can refer to the post on WordCamp Montreal that I’ve mentioned above, the subject being rather self-explanatory, and I’ll start the series next week.

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