Lesson learned: #FollowFriday is a two-way street

If you want to add followers to your list on #FollowFriday, we have some tips that might help you do just that. But beware: there are some pitfalls to watch out for.

It's #FollowFriday on Twitter, which means people will be updating their streams today with lists of users they think others should follow. Usually, the tweets say something like this: "#FollowFriday: @donreisinger @rafe @josh @caro @stshank"

Follow Fridays are a good time to add new people to your Twitter list, or promote the contributors you like the best. But what we really all want to know is this: How do I get included in Follow Friday notes? I did some research to see how a user could capitalize on Follow Friday to increase their follower count. I tried a handful of ideas. Some worked, others didn't. Here's what I found:

Idea 1: Beg
I decided begging would be the first option in trying to be added to Follow Friday tweets. I thought my followers would pity me and add me to their lists, thus exposing me to a whole new group of people.

It backfired. After updating my Twitter stream, many of my followers responded angrily, saying I was missing the point of Follow Friday. Others simply made fun of me. I didn't add a single follower.

Result: No change to follower count.

Idea 2: Insult Follow Friday
What better way to ingratiate yourself with Twitter followers than to insult them for being a part of a "Twitter scam"?

I updated my stream with discussions on why Follow Friday was a joke. I told my followers they shouldn't be engaging in such activity. I even told them that I didn't want to be on any lists because it was so dumb.

After three tweets and five minutes of keeping up with this ploy, it became abundantly clear that my Twitter insults weren't adding any followers to my list. In fact, I lost about 10 followers in that time. Most chastised me for not recognizing the value of Follow Friday. Others put it more succinctly by calling me a jerk. It wasn't a smart move.

Result: Follower count decline.

Idea 3: Praise Follow Friday
I decided that changing my tack would be in my best interests. I was losing followers by insulting Follow Friday, so saying how wonderful it was would certainly help me add followers, right?

Nope.

I told my followers that Follow Friday was an ideal way to meet new people. I explained to them that this special Twitter day would help them find great information. I even told them that Follow Friday was my favorite Twitter day because I was exposed to so many wonderful people.

Some followers said they agreed with what I had to say. But the vast majority of people were sickened by my overabundant joy. I didn't lose any followers by extolling the virtues of Follow Friday, but I didn't gain any either. Consider praising Follow Friday a waste of your time.

Result: No change to follower count.

Idea 4: Create #FollowFriday lists
One Friday, I decided to update my stream with lists of people worth following. I told my followers that these people were "cool" and "awesome." I explained to them that following them would help improve their Twitter experience. I picked the people on my list carefully, ensuring that no matter what, my followers would be happy to follow those on my lists.

The number of followers I added after creating those lists was nominal. All day Friday, I only added 10 new followers. I thought that by creating lists, I'd be a part of the community, give something back, and maybe (just maybe) that community would return the favor. It didn't happen. But, at least I added some new followers.

Result: Some gain in followers

Idea 5: Create lists of people who put me on their lists
I knew I was on to something when I created those lists. But I also knew that I had so much more potential.

So I gambled and decided that whoever would add me to their #FollowFriday list, I'd add them too. I waited to be added to some lists. Once I had enough people to create my own, I did just that. It took some time, but once my followers realized what I was doing, more added me to their Follow Friday tweets than ever before.

It was only a matter of time after that when my follower count started jumping. In the first hour, I added 100 new followers. I did it for a few more hours and added about 200 followers in that span. It worked beautifully.

Result: A big gain in followers

Lesson learned
What did we learn from this experiment? Simple: when your followers see a potential benefit in doing something, they will do it. If they don't, they won't.

So, don't waste your time begging for help without promising something yourself. Twitter is a community of social barter. Bring something of value to the table and you can get a lot back. In other words, to get followers, recommend followers.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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