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#FF could be better

Every Friday, the infamous Follow Friday (#FF) Twitter hashtag bursts at the seems with recommendations of everyone’s PLN members, sometimes within one tweet, and if that’s not enough to mention everyone you want, several tweets with as many @names as you can fit into the 140-character limit.  At first, it seemed like a great way to find new follows that have similar interests, careers or friends.  This worked for me for a while; I met a number of incredible teachers both inside and outside the ELT industry.  I’m done though.  I’ve all but stopped participating in the traditional way.

I truly appreciate every time I’m mentioned with others using descriptions like great inspiration or superstar PLN or great educators and I thank each person who includes me.  However, I just came to realise that I tended to mention and be mentioned by roughly the same people every week.  Sure, there are occasions when I check out someone I didn’t know and eventually follow them too, but in the end, that follow often doesn’t lead to much meaningful interaction. I’m sure I could try a bit harder to open that dialogue through more focused tweets, reading their blogs more consistently and generating conversation through comments, but it can sometimes be almost too overwhelming and I forget.  I’m not convinced that this really suits its intention to its fullest anymore.

This lead me to considering how I could modify the #FF to make it more meaningful for me and those I mention.  Whether you’ve noticed or not, I’ve tried a couple of different methods:

1) I picked a different person to mention each Friday, preferably someone unmentioned before.

2) I used one tweet  for each person I mentioned.

In both cases, I add a little description of who that person is and why I think they are worth following.  That’s really key for me. You not only see a bunch of @names in a list of links to their Twitter profiles (which, let’s face it, really isn’t too informative), but also individualised attention and personalised description of each valued recommendation.  For me, I hope this gives proper credit to that person and allows my followers to understand a little bit about why it is I’m recommending them.  This is an example from today, where I tried to tweet a new #FF every hour:

Now I get that this might be a bit much to do.  It was for me;  clearly I missed some hours.  Imagine just doing one, two or three instead!  I can hear some of your guilt-ridden cries for leaving your regular mentions out, but honestly, do we need recognition every week on Twitter?  No, so I’m confident no one will hold it against you.  In fact, they might pay more attention to your #FF.

I’d love for any of you to try this out next week and see how it goes, but won’t hold it against you if you don’t.  Much.

PS – Click on any of the tweets about to go to that #FF person to follow them!

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Naomi Epstein

I have noticed the change and DO find it more informative and more encouraging to go and check out!
As you once said – “Insightful tweets!”

Tara Benwell

I hear you loud and clear, Tyson. Last year I started doing #FF tributes on ESLLibrary’s blog. It was my way of getting to know one of the teachers in our twitter stream a little better. I love Fridays now. I dive into the archives of one of the teachers we follow and search for a post I’ve missed. Then I write a quick tribute about it and give that teacher a shout out. It’s like my own little professional development project every Friday. Since we’re talking about milestones this week, I just did a count…this Friday coming will be my 50th #FF post, and I haven’t doubled up on any ELT bloggers:

As I mentioned on twitter, I love your #FF spin off. I hope you’ll inspire some more tweeters to make #FF more meaningful in their own way.

Brad Patterson

I’m catching up on blogs…

I saw your #ff last week and I thought it was a cool new approach. I’ve seen folks do it before, and I think it’s a nice way of really recommending and “showing appreciation” too… which seems to be a lot of what #ff has always been.

U rock, Ty… now off to read Tara’s guest post 🙂

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