Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Writer comics by Debbie Ridpath Ohi are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Twitter Guide For Authors & Illustrators > The Basics > What is #FollowFriday (& #WriterWednesday, etc.)? Do they really work?

Index of topics: Main Twitter Guide For Writers & Illustrators page. To go back to my blog for kidlit/YA writers and illustrators, see Inkygirl. You can find me on Twitter at @inkyelbows (focus: writing and illustrating children's books) and @DebbieOhi (livetweets, chat, photos, personal ramblings). Also see my list of Other Useful Twitter Guides For Authors And Illustrators and Twitter Lists of: agents who represent kidlit/YAkidlit/YA editors, children's book art/creative directors and K-12/teen librarians on Twitter.

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Follow Friday (& Writer Wednesday, etc.): Do They Really Work? How Can I Make Them Work?

Follow Friday and WriterWednesday are weekly rituals on Twitter when people acknowledge some of their favourite people to follow. At least that's how the trend began. In the beginning, hashtags like these (there's now one for Monday as well) did seem to work and was a great way for people to get followers.

Now, however, I've noticed that a lot of people just post a lot of tweets in a row that begin with "#ff" and are filled with Twitter names. And when others are doing it at the same time, it means that it's impossible to follow every single person on everyone's #ff list. Yes, you could take the time to click through and check out each Twitter account to read their bio and tweets, but I find I'm unmotivated to do this when faced with pages of lists like this one:

Above: Example of what you DON'T want your Twitter page to look like on Friday.

Hashtags like #writerwednesday have become generic "this is about writing" tags instead of follow recommendations:

Sometimes I'll be flattered when I notice I'm on someone's #ff post but then I follow the post back to the person's Twitter page and find that I'm only one of many people listed, as if she just went through her follower list and #ff'ed every single person.

Because of this habit of some people posting pages of names, I find that it creates a lot of white noise on Fridays. This makes it more of a challenge to have any conversations or find retweetable posts. People are starting to post long lists on other days as well. No wonder fewer people are starting to use the #followfriday hashtag:

Ditto for the #ff hashtag:

Sometimes people list me in their #followfriday lists and aren't even following me themselves, which I find odd and somewhat suspicious, since that's also a tactic that spammers are starting to use.

BlogWorld's Allison Boyer recently posted some excellent suggestions for making Follow Friday work. Here's my summary with additions.

1. Recommend with a REASON. Yes, it takes more effort and thought...but that will help differentiate your #followfridays from the reams of #ff lists out there. People may actually FOLLOW your recommendations. Either recommend one person at a time,  or start your #ff list with a theme -- that way people can skip over your list if your theme doesn't interest them but will pay more attention if it does.

2. Get to know the people you follow. Don't recommend someone if you don't actually read that person's tweets. Do you really find their tweets interesting? Do you retweet them or reply to them sometimes? Or are you just listing them on your #ff list in hopes that they'll notice you?

3. Don't just repost the same list over and over again. Yes, it's easier to post, but the people you're recommending are going to notice that you're just cutting and pasting the same thing over and over again. They may be flattered the first time but after a while they'll realize how little thought you're putting into your #ff and your recommendation will fade into white noise. Or worse, it'll reflect poorly on you.

4. Aim for quality over quantity. Don't recommend more than a handful of people every Friday. That way, your followers may actually get curious enough to follow your recommendations. Or if you really want to recommend a lot of people, make sure you give a good reason why people should follow each of your recommendations. Write the kind of #ff recommendations that would make YOU want to follow someone.

5. Don't just recommend people on Friday. Recommend people throughout the week, and not just on Fridays. I use the hashtag #follow because it's not linked to any particular day.

NOTE: Please don't get me wrong. I love the idea behind Follow Friday and would love to find a way to make it work again.

Related FAQ entries:

What's a hashtag? How do I use it (and not use it)?

Related Resources:

The Problem With Follow Friday (from BlogWorld Expo Blog) - by Allison Boyer

Has Twitter's 'Follow Friday' Had Its Day? - Tim Difford

Why FollowFriday Doesn't Work And Should Stop - The Chriss Voss Show

The Death Of Follow Friday On Twitter - TechCunks.com

This Is How You Should Do Follow Friday (#FF) - Erudite Expressions

Last updated on August 24, 2012 by Debbie Ridpath Ohi