Friday, June 19, 2009

Twitter Follow Fridays (group back rubs)

A social meme activity has grown in the Twitterverse known as Follow Friday (or #FF for those of you who speak #hashtag). It is simply a mechanism to let other people who are interested in you, know who you are interested in.

As I wrote that, I realize how sophomoric that sounds, but that's what it is. Twitter, as a social network, does require relationships to be reciprocity. You can follow Bill, but Bill may not follow you. And that works well, maybe because you find what bill says interesting, but Bill might not feel the same about what you say. Wow, that sounds more shallow and self absorbed than it is. Bill might be very interesting and have thousands of people interested in what he is saying and it is reasonable that he would not follow everyone who follows him, regardless of how interesting he might find them. But, I digress.

Follow Friday is the popular method of saying to everyone following you: "I find these people interesting. You might also." The way it works if pretty simple and informal. On Fridays, Twitter users (or Tweeps) send a message (a tweet) with the names of people they are giving a shout out about, and then include the short hashtag (codeword) #FF. That's it! Pretty simple and not complicated.

Sometimes, peer pressure kicks in and people feel the need to reciprocate. Someone gives a shout out to there followers about me, and I might feel that I should return the favor and include them in my #FF message. I try to resist that knee jerk reaction. Although it always makes me feel good when I find that someone feels what I have to say is interesting, I feel that if you only have 140 characters to say something, you should be truthful about it. If my followers though I was just tossing out #FF names because they did it to me, it would dilute my recommendation that I find them interesting.

Sometimes, Follow Fridays seem to become huge virtual group back rubs. Everyone doing a little for everyone else, but no one really getting someones full attention.

Now, let me digress a bit into how I have begun doing Follow Fridays:

Twitter has a mechanism for flagging tweets that you find interesting as being a favorite of yours. It is real simple. You read something you like, and with a single click, it is flagged as one of your favorites. I use the favorite feature all the time. I don't always have time to read twitter, but if something catches my eye, I will flag it and will read it later. If, after I read it, I thought it a keeper, I will leave it flagged.

On Friday, I can quickly go to my favorites page and see all of the messages I found interesting. One click on the Reply icon for each and it adds it to my next tweet. Click-click-click-click, toss a #FF on the end. Maybe add a short message in it like "These made me laugh this week" and off it goes.

I hope that people that include me in there #FF messages aren't offended if I don't immediately reciprocate. Don't take it personal, I don't. I have the unfortunate predicament that I have interests in multiple, unrelated things. Winemaking, Computers, Beermaking, Science, Social behavior, Music, .... What I find interesting is probably only interesting to a distinct subset of people who follow me. I try to please everyone.

Happy Follow Friday everyone!

Who made me think this week? #ff @2020science @BadAstronomer @donttrythis @sciencebase @bayareascience @rstrohmeyer @tim_harper @maureenogle

You can follow me on twitter at @tbeauchamp, but only if you find me interesting.

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