I got in the previous weeks the feedback by known or unknown Twitterers who are “Follow Friday”-ing me by displaying, recommending to the others my Twitter ID for various reasons, mostly because they think people they recommend are cool or worthwhile following. Since this communication practice repeated last Friday, I’ve asked Twitterers what is follow Friday and who actually came up with this idea and why?
In the last few days I’ve read two good blog posts: danah boyd’s view on the communication phenomena of retweeting and Jonathan Zittrain’s thoughts on technical 140 characters barriers on Twitter. Having in mind that retweeting process is one of the conversation practices on Twitter, the same can be denoted to the Follow Friday movement as one of the communication behavioristic conventions.
How Follow Friday works? Basically, Follow Friday helps people recommend other Twitter folks. As a way of recommending people you follow to other users on Twitter, Follow Friday is presented with hashtag #followfriday or #ff. The purpose is that those who are being recommended would (potentially) gain new followers. After suggesting the name of the twitterer, the practice is to write why you are recommending them as suggested people to follow. Some twitterers follow this practice, but many people don’t as they just write Twitter user names without stating the reason(s) why one should follow those people. Otherwise, the conversation moves into typical micro memes. Here is an example of the correct usage of FF:
@danbri because he is the semantic web expert and co-founder of FOAF #followfriday.
The twitterer who came up with the idea of ‘”Follow Friday” movement said that #ff has lost a lot of its original charm because too many people are making wild recommendations without any justification, in order to collect and get more random followers. I was also asking why Friday? No one so far explained this, either because is TGIF expression that many users say on Twitter every Friday, as it is more relaxed day for casual gaining new followers or because the idea that the creator of this movement likes the music of The Cure (read: Friday, I’m in love! aka I am sharing love for these followers).
This week I had a chance to talk with, above mentioned Twitterer, Dan Brinkey on work matters, and later I was contemplating the idea of Follow Friday concept as micro communication FOAF (Friend of a friend) convention, and came to conclusion that beside recommendation and connecting people aspect, Follow Friday has communication facet of “describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do” . Twitter user ID’s are describing people, person who recommends the friend is the link, and description line “why I recommend this person to be followed” presents things they create or do. This way FF allows people and groups of people to describe social network relations without the need for a centralization.
Beside suggesting other people to follow and explaining why those people are useful to follow, there is another phenomena that I’ve noticed last Friday: massive retweeting of Follow Fridays of other people tweets. I was in wonder why would people retweet them and came to the thoughts of meta –meme Twitter user’s tagging and collecting potential followers. This would be an example when sharing (info, contacts) is not caring but rather micro trading (silent request for an expected requirement of following back). What follows next is an interesting to investigate as communicative (non) behaviour amongst Twitterers that is in permanent flux.