It’s Time To Kill #FF Dead #socialmedia


Do you toss and turn every Thursday night, unable to get more than a fitful sleep, and wake up in a cold sweat every Friday? If so, you’re deep in the first stage of #followfriday. We’ve all been there. I sure was, for close to two years. I feel for you. We all do. It’s a tough place to dwell.

You know how it goes. When you’re brand-new to Twitter, you’re probably blissfully oblivious to #ff for a couple of weeks. You might see other people doing it, but no one does it to you, so you’re good. Then, at some point, maybe when you have 50 followers or so, someone does it to you. You know, something like this:

Happy #ff @WarrenBuffett @JoeSchmoe @PhilMcCrackin @YourNameHere

“Me!??” You think, all excited. “Somebody did that #ff thing to me! I wonder what it is!” So you Google it, or ask a friend, or if you’re much smarter than me you figure it out for yourself, and now you’re in: people recommend their followers to start to follow you, so you return the favor, and you say thank you to the ones who list you, and…

…And before too much time has passed, your entire Friday is FULL of yet one more thing to do: Your job, as always. And now this #followfriday thing.

“Somebody did that #ff thing to me! I wonder what it is!”

Twitter is a blast 6 days a week. On Fridays, it’s a chore. A really stressful chore, because if you don’t keep up, you’re afraid you’re going to insult your new fans and they’ll scorn you.

This goes on for a year or two. Fridays on Twitter kinda suck. There’s no room for conversation, because everyone’s tweet stream is chock-full of huge, meaningless lists of #ff followed by twitter handles. You can’t find a good article, YouTube video of a talking dog, or interesting blog post – nothing!

There’s no room for conversation

So finally one day, you opt out. You just stop doing #ff altogether. You’re in stage 2 of #followfriday.

You feel really guilty. You’re consumed by guilt, as a matter of fact – which again ruins your Fridays, although for a different reason.

And then, one day, the guilt is gone. Ahhh…that’s nice.

But you’re resentful. You want your Twitter back, but it’s so clogged with this #ff crap that, as before, you can’t find any real conversations going on. Indeed, some of your best Twitter buddies aren’t even active on Fridays, you notice (yup, they’ve gotten frustrated with the #ff plague in their tweet-streams, too.) Even your own @mention column on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite is so full of these meaningless lists of twitter handles (people with nothing in common to recommend in the same #ff message, you notice) you miss when people are actually trying to reach you.

Even your own @mention column on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite is so full of these meaningless lists of twitter handles

Now, you’re deeply into the third stage of #followfriday, the (mildly) annoyed stage.

Then, finally one day, you decide to do a study, using your own account as the test subject. You count your new followers every day of the week, and see if there’s anything different with Fridays. You observe week after week for two years solid:

  1. Does #ff work, and net you more followers than other days?
  2. Is it the same as other days (which would mean it’s pointless)?
  3. Do you actually get fewer followers on Fridays as on other days of the week?

Folks, I’ve been studying this for two years, using my own account as the test subject. Let me tell you with certainty: I gain significantly fewer followers on Fridays than the average. So not only is #ff ineffective: it actually obstructs the natural ebb and flow of Twitter. That is why I say, finally, emphatically:

Please, let’s kill #followfriday dead, starting right now.

It just gums things up on Twitter. It interrupts normal, interesting conversation without adding anything of value. You know what else? I hate #ff as a blogger, too, because people don’t find good posts recommended by their friends on Fridays, either.

I hate #ff as a blogger

Another time, I’ll show you how a couple – really, only a couple – of people who really do a classy and, I think, effective job with their #ff recommendations. My esteemed friend Steve Keating (@leadtoday) is one that really stands out.

But in the meantime, if you want to know who I recommend you #follow, check out my Twitter list called “The Circle” ( Those are many of my favorites. I recommend you follow them every day, not just Friday.

Join us here at Switch and Shift once a week for #socialsaturday, a kind of new feature that we refuse to kill. Oh, and like any good weekend social gathering, bring your friends along to join in the fun!

Image credit: aleksander1 / 123RF Stock Photo

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

  • Lyn Boyer

    Thanks, Ted. I am sure many people thank you.

  • Chuck Kent

    Great post, thanks. Beyond the subjects of follower acquisition or Twitter pollution, even if it wasn’t counterproductive, #FF is too FrigginFacile to provide real recognition value or relationship building potential. My personal cure for it: #SocialSong Saturday. Now, not everyone will want to sing a Twitter Love song to a few favorites each week, but it works on a number of levels for me. I second the motion to kill #FF, and challenge everybody to come up with their own (hopefully more interesting) solution.

  • John Bennett

    My mindset is to seek understanding (CONSIDERATION you might recall) through several posts – with a comment or question from me to share my outcome(s). Not #ff generators, making easy for me to accept being ignored!

  • Chuck Kent

    Ted, glad you liked #SocialSong Saturday, and thanks for asking me to post a link here. Any time you want to be a “guest song blogger” and warble your praise for a favorite follower or two, you will be most welcome :)

  • thabomophiring

    Neither here nor there for me as it is really not about me gaining followers but about me giving recognition.
    It does not clog up any conversation space as I apply selective attention as a filter.

  • Carole Manley

    The other day I suggested that as a quick fix it would be great if we could #ff a list ie. You create a list called for instance ‘People I want to keep in touch with and promote coz they are my kind of people’ (though not so long obviously) then on Friday morning you just post an #ff to that list; 1 post, job done.

    • Jen,

      That’s a great blog post – I commented there, so I’ll spare you a rehash of it here. But let me just say to EVERYONE: please check out Jen’s post (link in her comment above). It’s really well-thought-out.

      Gini! There you go, that’s the example I was thinking of when writing my reply to Neil, below. I love her much-better solution to the #ff issue than what most of us do/did as common practice. it looks like I’ll have to write a follow-up to this in a couple of weeks. When I do, I’ll include your post on steam feed and Gini’s Spin Sucks #FF examples, too.

  • Ted, I agree. There may be times to thank a specific individual or a small group who have been extra supportive but that can be done without a #FF. I am all for expressing gratitude but the #FF practice has become mostly Frivolous Fluff or Frenzied Fluff … Great conversation. Looking forward to the feedback and perspective. Jon

  • Interesting, Ted. But I disagree…

    There are two principle thoughts that come to mind – 1) how Twitter is used and 2) what #FF is actually for.

    1) I’m very selective about the people I follow – I don’t subscribe to your following policy. Each to our own. I view following someone as giving them permission to tell me interesting things – it’s essentially me gifting them my time. I can’t keep up with 200k+ followers and give each the attention that they need.
    Of course, on Fridays, this means that I don’t see huge amounts of #FF – because I’m not giving so many people permission to broadcast at me.

    2) To me, #FF is the way to recognise really outstanding stuff. If I #FF anyone, I’m saying to the people who have chosen to allow me to take some of their time – ‘Hey, I think that you’ll really like this person and that they’ll reward you for your investment’.]

    I seem to find that the people I follow are generally of the same practice, if not necessarily of the same opinion (I’ve not asked them yet).
    This means that when someone I follow #FFs, I tend to take note. Last week, I followed 3 #FF recos – and these were people I haven’t come across before. Other #FFs go onto a list…

    As I say, each to our own on Twitter. There aren’t any rights, or wrongs, as far as I can really see – so long as we all play nice. Most of the time anyway… !

    • Thank you for the thumbs up, Susan. #FollowNow is a great practice, btw. I use #follow all the time, though I avoid it on Fridays so as to not add to the plaque in people’s streams.

      I think it’s unfortunate and even detrimental when we put expectations on each other for social behavior. I used to feel the need to thank and reply thoughtfully and all that, but like you – like most people – I actually WORK, and I play with my family, and I do other IRL stuff that is more important to me than thanking each and every person, following every conversation to its conclusion, etc etc.

      Social is designed to be interesting and FUN. If we start putting pressure via expectations on others, it stops being fun. Then a lot of interesting people will stop using it. I think it would be a travesty if that happened.

      “No pressure, just fun” is how I go through pretty much all of my life, including business (fortunately, working hard is very fun for me!). My blood pressure is lower that before I made that mantra up. I highly recommend it to anyone in need of a little decrease in the pressure they’re feeling.

      Ahhhhh…. I feel better already, just reminding myself of that line.

  • Jen Olney

    Interesting Ted, I discussed this same issue on SteamFeed last week #FF has lost its meaning due to participates who misuse the intention. You also left off Gini Dietrich who does a great job of writing an entire blog post dedicated to one person on her Spin Sucks blog – great way to really highlight an individual as well. If you can personalize the reason you recommend someone that really hits the point home. It doesn’t have be a Friday, it can be any day of the week.

  • Susan Mazza

    Bravo Ted! I like the concept but prefer the individual shout out over the list. Even if people just turned off the automation of ff lists it would make a huge difference. This is a great nudge for me to put my focus back on #follownow tweets appreciating and introducing one person any day of the week. As for thanking people I too have gone down the road of guilt. I don’t want to insult people by not acknowledging their shout out. And find myself staying away on Friday’s. But I have to decide what I want to do with the limited
    time I have to be on twitter. Would rather link to someone’s profile and take the time to read and share something from their stream. That’s what I often do in response to a mention. Your article has given me the nudge (and the freedom) to focus 100 pct on meaningful interaction. We each get to define that for ourselves. But I also think we need to give up the expectations of how other ppl should respond to our #ff, rt’s etc. I don’t want a layer of new norms of social niceties to get in the way of engagement, sharing and learning. An online equivalent of socially acceptable and expected small talk is clogging up the twitter stream. I’m not a fan of a lot of “small talk” in any venue. I am left thinking about what I will now change in my own sm practice. Thanks for this article Ted!

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  • I just read a really detailed account of how to do #follow (but please not on Fridays!) well on my pal Knikkolette’s blog. Her advice is very much how-to, which I find useful myself. I think you’ll like it:

  • Jesse Lyn Stoner

    This is great, Ted! I’ve been in Stage 3 for awhile. I thank people who send me a #FF, but I don’t generate any of my own. For the most part, it feels rote. I think a lot of people have the auto-scheduled. I appreciate hearing the results of your analysis which confirms my intuition.

    What I do appreciate very much are when someone takes the time to write something personal. I have been deeply honored and touched at those times, whether of not there is a #FF included.

    I am curious, though, if you know anything about what the effect of the #FF counts are on social metrics. It seems like some people believe they are important. I haven’t had the time or interest to learn more about that, but since this is on the table, I am wondering if it’s a factor to be considered.

    Enjoyed your post immensely and appreciate your putting on the table something that has been niggling at me for awhile. It’s great to know I’m not alone. And I appreciated reading all the comments here as well.

  • I agree so adamantly that I contemplated not logging onto Twitter for a good 30 seconds today.

    But, in all seriousness, as a new blogger and Twitterer, I was always resentful of the popularity contest and never quite figured out how to get around the Friday buzz. At my current level of internet savvy, I find myself engaging much less with users who participate in #ff because they’re actively killing content.

  • Norwalk CT Public Library

    Disagree that #FF should be killed. As a public library, we have found #FF to be a part of our mission. People expect their library to recommend good fiction, authoritative reference books, suggest ways to research school projects. Why shouldn’t libraries also suggest other twitter accounts to follow? Yes, we have gained new followers on #FF, which looks good, but more importantly, we have found new experts to follow, new libraries to connect with and learned more about social media which we share with our followers.

  • I completely agree that the current #FF format as it stands should die endless “#FF 136 chars of @ mentions” is overwhelming and for me at least mostly pointless. However a redefinition and new format might bring that value back.

    After reading your post I tried something new which ties in to my most recent follow approach “Don’t thank your new follower – share and publicise them!” .

    After a brief dalliance with your good self on twitter I dropped out a few “#FF @mention for such and such a reason tweets” which seemed to garner 9 new followers – this is quite a lot for me on a single day and I hadn’t done anything else out of the ordinary on twitter that day. I think a redefinition in this format would be at the very least more useful for picking up targeted potential people to follow and help to publicise those who’ve gone above and beyond that week.

  • Antonio

    I do not agree. certainly for those who is very popular, does not make sense. but it is a way to grow new ideas

  • YoLaborate!

    Fantastic article and great advice to follow, Ted! Thank you. To me, Social Media is really… well “social” and conversations involve more than just blurting out someone’s name. Putting something into the message, saying hello and thank you or introducing people who you believe may have a common interest in the hope of facilitating connections, friendships and relationships is much better than simply blasting out names in a Follow Friday message. Nice work, Ted!

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