My dear nephews & nieces,
I have some bad news: #FollowFriday is dead. Deader’n dead. There’s no flesh left on its’ bones, poor thing. I’ll spare you the bit about Yorick, if you don’t mind. And I’ll say that I get no pleasure from writing those words back there. Now, I’ll admit I’ve enjoyed plenty of Follow Fridays in the past. Some were heavier laden than Spanish galleons lumbering out of the River Plate like bumblebees lurching out of a hive after a particularly muffiny elevenses. What teeming bounties were to be had! What amazing people recommended us! And…get this…people followed us back.
The whole idea of Follow Friday has some serious metal fatigue.
Before I begin, everything I’m about to relate has an asterisk, and it’s this: a celebrity or highly-influential person can still make a difference on a Friday. If that describes you, then do what you feel is best. But everyone else? You? Me? Toss the bouquet in the newly-dug grave and wipe away that tear, baby. Friday’s gone. I mean gone.
I realize this exercise in obituary writing will smack some as thanklessness, because I’m often recommended on Fridays by sweet, thoughtful, friendly, amazing people, and I have been for some time. They seek to do me and others good and, unlike some others, will actually reach out to do it. That’s to be applauded. It’s a terrific impulse and shows a largeness of spirit that must never be made light of in any way. I thank them and hastily remove my hat in their presences. They are good and kind people. I cherish them. It would pain me to make them feel bad in any way.
And I’m not hunting followers with this piece, either. I speak mainly as a fully converted recommender of others, a thing that gives me great pleasure. At one time would I have been slavering for followers? Sure. But I’ve since learned what numbers are and what they do and I’d rather have one gem-like follower than a thousand do-nothings in the Followers column. It’s a valuable lesson to learn, by the way. Just as a thousand favorites or “stars” are no guarantee of a superior tweet. But I’m guessing at that. I’m sure I wouldn’t know.
And like the boy who tears away expensive gift-wrapping and a lace bow only to find a box of candy that’s 98% empty wrappers from his favorite aunt & uncle, I’d like to somehow nicely tell my benefactors that they might in future consider a different confectioner. It’s my sincerest wish that I can do so without seeming ungrateful. I hope that I might be successful.
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
A very small percentage of people will ever consider following someone on a Friday. Very small. That’s the environment: hostile. People must be thinking something along the lines of “I’m going to see five hundred people recommended to me today and there’s no way I have time to look at them, and I follow plenty already so forget it.”
A deluge of Friday recommendations scrolls by the reader, and he defends himself from this onslaught by ignoring them outright.
To unwittingly make matters worse, kind recommenders will fill the tweet with a list of people to recommend, and in the process overload the irritable reader even more.
It’s sometimes possible to make the needle move by recommending people singly, but even so, it’s usually not a huge difference. I’m just saying what I’ve seen, month after month. You haven’t noticed it?
If I’m recommended by fifteen people on a Friday (again, the hat comes off and I reverently touch a knuckle to the forelock), I may possibly find myself with twenty new followers. ‘Twenty new followers!’ I can hear you say. ‘What’s wrong with that, you dog?’ Nothing! Nothing at all. There’s room for all and more room besides. But what if I told you that your magnanimous recommendation (and it is magnanimous) to hundreds or thousands of your followers netted an average of one-point-something followers to the person you feel strongly enough to recommend? Wouldn’t you think, “Huh? I would have thought loads more than that would follow her.” Precisely.
Of course you would. I know I did.
There are times I’ve bowed my head in thanks while simultaneously groaning after someone recommends me along with five other people on a Friday, because there’s a very, very good chance not a single soul will swim over to my raft and climb on. That’s a zero. Zip. Zilch. The big Mayan donut.
Thank you for the candy (thank you sincerely). But how do I put subtext in my thank-you note that’ll clue you in about the empty box without sounding like a spoiled jerk? (I seriously don’t know. I’m doing my best. How’m I doing?)
I was using the same confectioner as you, by the way. Not any more.
I wouldn’t even mention any of the above if I didn’t think I had a solution. I’ve alluded to it before, but I’m going to do it again because I haven’t seen much movement in the timeline toward this idea, and my impression so far is that it works great Here goes: some moons ago, I had one of these lackluster Fridays. One eats the meager candy, sighs, and moves on. Or did. The following Monday, Josh Hara (@yoyoha for the congnoscenti, and you should be following him no ifs,ands, or buts about it if you aren’t already) retweeted one of my less abstruse utterances and added another tweet on top of that saying why he liked me. That’s it. An RT and a follow-up with a thoughtful endorsement. That one gesture from one person did more good than the sum of three or four of the prior Fridays. I marveled at it. I still do. Was it just him, or could it be repeated? I was curious to see.
What I gathered from that:
People let their following defenses down early in the week when the deluge is over. They see far fewer and are more open to exploring them.
They’d rather learn about one person at a time.
And getting a good example of the person’s writing with a personalized kiss just might be the equivalent of a Followbomb for someone you like and want others to know about.
I’ve been doing it for nearly a year now and in the best cases I’m able to fully recreate Josh’s example. But at half or a quarter or even a tenth of that result, you’re still being much more generous than you are on a Friday. There are a few variables. It’s possible to spoil it by doing it when few people are online, like the middle of the night, rush hour, etc. or by being obscure in your recommendation while trying to be funny yourself. If the person isn’t a Twitter comic writer, that can dampen the results, too, because people might trust me to recommend a funny person, but may not be interested in my opinions on other sorts of people.
Please give this a try! Just before you hit “send” on one of these early-week recommendations, put a bookmark in your intended beneficiary’s follower list and see what kind of effect it has after you put it out there. It’s been pretty amazing so far.
Follow Friday is dead. Long live every other day! Spread the word about people with talent who are less well-known and looking for an audience - that’s the most amount of good you can do. And let me know how it works for you, would you?
Your affectionate uncle,
America’s favorite uncle has good ideas.
I dunno about you, but I’m far more shaken by the death of SNPD Thursday
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