Twitter: Follow Friday and Etiquette

Twitter is, as many of you already know, one of my favorite social media toys available today. For those of us who are active on Twitter, we are all aware of a little tradition called Follow Friday.

Follow Friday TwitterIn case you don’t use Twitter or somehow managed to miss it, Follow Friday is a tradition where, every Friday, folks tweet about which other Twitter users are worth following and/or meeting. It’s actually quite simple in my opinion, but there are rather widely varying opinions about how and why you do it properly.

The original tradition dating back 2-3 years was a pretty simple concept – pick your most favorite Tweeters, recommend them, and give a quick blurb about why someone would want to follow. Over time, as the user base began to grow and folks went from having dozens or hundreds of followers to thousands, we started to see a change in behavior.

A little over a year ago, we started seeing a lot of people tweeting list of people to follow, with the #FollowFriday tag attached, of course. (If you don’t know about hashtags, take a moment to learn more.) As this further evolved over the past year or so, the tag changed from #FollowFriday to #FF to save room for another Twitter handle to be added. Makes sense, no?

Twitter “purists” (i.e. early adopters) reacted very negatively to the behavior. Lists of folks to follow did not add the right value they argued. People were taking a shortcut. It shows mass behavior, which is the antithesis of focusing on relationships over “push” messaging. These are all valid arguments.

But this all misses the point. Twitter is a service where you can microblog about whatever you want. You have every right to use the 140 characters for anything. Since it’s based on pure “opt in” (i.e. I choose to follow or unfollow you, or neither), the population can judge by their very behavior. Are people still following me, even if I do the list of users to spread the love more in my limited free time to do so? Sure. So in my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

My point: Don’t let people bark direction at you about how to use Twitter. Use common sense, listen to those with whom you’ve engaged, and simply behave in the way that best suits your style, your objectives, and the friends you’ve made online. Sure, there are things you want to shy away from on Twitter, but for the most part, have fun and try not to annoy people, and you’ll be fine.

Do you partake in #FF? Every week or intermittently? What do you think etiquette “should” be? Or should there just be freeform behavior of your choosing? I know some tweeps are passionate about this topic, so let me know what you think!