This post is about not doing #FF the same as everyone else. It’s about singling out the individuals whose tweets you seek out. It’s about finding new ways to bring value to the people you follow. You can call it paying it forward, or whatever you want — but it’s really about authentic engagement with your social media audience.
If you’re on twitter, it’s likely that you see #FF or #followfriday lists pop up as the weekend gets closer. Most likely they’ll look like this:
RandomUser #FF @myfriend @thisguyIknow @workplacebuddy @storeIlike @websiteIvisitedonce @dudewhoRTedMe Love your tweets!
Which is nice. I mean, it gets a little exposure for the people you mention, and that’s great. But let me ask you this question. When you see #FF lists in your stream, how many of the names in the list do you click on?
Yeah, I thought so, me too.
Have a Goal – Help a Brother (or Sister) Out
What’s your #FollowFriday goal? Is it to let your followers know who you know? Is it self-serving name-dropping (which never works, by the way)? Or is it to create new followers for the people you follow?
To persuade your followers to follow someone you are following, they need more than just a name and your tweet.
Most people are using Twitter as a social exposure tool. Most people also tend to follow users they’ll read, enjoy, and retweet — that kind of twitterati is much more appealing than someone who only consumes. Twitter is a conversation, and you have to let the other participants know that you value their input. So recommend people who will add value to your followers, either by retweeting or by posting retweetable messages. If they’ll add value, your followers will follow them.
Doing #FollowFriday the right way takes a little time. But taking the time shows your followers that you think these users are worth the effort — that they’ll add value to the tweet streams of anyone who follows them. These tips will show you how to use #FF to show that real value to the people you follow.
- Start #FF by telling Twitter “I will follow every user mentioned in any #FF list I’m in.” Being mentioned in a #FF list should be an honor, and the people mentioned with you are people whose posts you’ll probably enjoy. Do it, and watch how many #FF lists you get included in. Then follow them. All of them.
- Send an @mention to let the user who sent out the #FF list know that you followed all their recommendations and you’re looking forward to great tweets and great future #FF lists. They’ll thank you for it. And retweet the original list with a “Thanks for including me!” message.
- Get creative with how you make your #FF lists. Do them with a city theme, or maybe only people with blogs you read, or perhaps companies you do business, or people who inspire you, or experts in a particular field…it’s practically endless. If you do a themed list, hashtag it with the theme when you post it.
- Most people using Twitter are using it to get eyes on their blog or company Web site. Your #FF recommendations every week are great word of mouth. On top of that, SEO for sites is improved by the number of inbound links there are on external sites. Sure, it’s not a lot of SEO juice, but it’s some. Everyone appreciates link-backs from other sites, and sometimes you’ll get a link back to your site as a thank you. Creating a page on your blog that includes all these links can be a great way to add a little SEO value to the sites of the people you follow.
Why I Do It My Way
If you’ve clicked any of the links in #3, you’ve seen how I do my #FF — I create a page that I can post as a Twitter update and @mention the people on my list. This has the benefit for me that I’m getting clicks on my site as my #FF people check out what link they’ve been associated with, but also they re-tweet my link to their followers, and mostly they click around some of my other posts, which increases the possibility that they’ll tweet one of my posts.
There’s a traffic advantage to me for doing it this way, for sure, but there’s also the benefit to all the people in my #FF list – past and present. They get many more visitors looking at their Twitter bio, and a recent tweet to put them in context, in a way that might make visitors interested to follow them on Twitter.
Valuable reciprocity is the name of the game for #FF, so what are you really doing for the people on your #FF list?