Twitter is, as has often been observed, a strange place. I joined mostly because one evening my friend was live-tweeting pictures from a gig I wished I was at. Then, a bit later, I thought I should probably follow Derren Brown as well, because he is interesting and strange, which is 50% like me.
I very much doubt that most people (and here I mean individuals rather than companies or groups) join Twitter to tell people about what they’re doing. I imagine that, like me, most people originally start a Twitter account for the purpose of receiving information, and only then move on to the Transmit mode.
Twitterers reading this, I’d be really interested to know why YOU joined Twitter, so please do let me know in the comments if you would like to.
Non-Twitterers, why haven’t you and what might tempt you to do so?
You find interesting sources of information or accounts that make you laugh, and you want to share it. The #FF hashtag (Follow Friday), as Twitterers will know, is a weekly exhortation to your followers to follow certain named individuals. For example, if you like me and have no bad conscience about lying to your followers, you might one day tweet
Hey everyone, #FF @CressidaFord because she will make you laugh! #norefunds
But after a while of that sort of information-juggling, something happens. You encounter someone else who juggles in the same area of interest. You connect, and form a bond. The network expands, and more people appear, and you start using Twitter like Facebook – telling people what you’re doing and where you are, instead of just spreading “useful” information. The social bit comes into play – and you make friends: proper friends, friends you might even meet “IRL” (which is that weird thing that happens when you go AFK).
Which is where #FF suddenly gets awkward. What if you love and get on with someone, but all they do is tweet about their toast or the next book they’re going to read? It’s interesting to you, sure, because they’re your friend and you like to know what’s happening in their life, and it’s seen as a mark of friendship to #FF someone. But doesn’t it devalue the #FF if you are simply paying your friend a compliment and not actually recommending their content to your followers? Do we need to come up with a different hashtag for friendship? Matey Monday? Chummy Chooseday?
And so I very rarely #FF, and when I do, it’s because that person has posted things recently that I think have been worth sharing, and of interest not just to me but to the kind of people that follow me. I’m interested in what’s next on your reading list! I am! I want to talk to you about it, and read it myself or share what I thought! But I don’t necessarily think that my (admittedly measly) 200-odd followers, who follow me for reasons best known to themselves, will without question be as interested as I am.
Twitterers – how many times, roughly, have you actually followed someone on the strength of an #FF? Has it been worth it?
Non-Twitterers – do you think friendship #FF or sharing #FF would be more interesting to you if you started on Twitter, and which would you prefer to receive?