AlanGustin Blog2

#FollowFriday Post… a Follow-Up and More.

Posted in Announcements, Information, Social Networking by alangustin on February 5, 2011

It would seem that I got sucked into a conversation that not too many people really care about anymore. It has only been a few days, but out of about 150 people who visited the post “Would You Kill #FollowFriday?” — only four left comments, indicating that the topic has been done to death already, or that most people don’t really care.

Of course, the fact that this blog doesn’t enjoy much of a following has a lot to do with the outcome as well, but I have to admit that four comments out of 150 views is pretty lame. Now I have to face up to the fact that I was way behind the timeline on this one. This is just one more in a series of lessons I’m learning about blogging and social networking, with this lesson titled, “Yesterday’s News is Just That – Old News. Of course, this is where our adopting of – and total immersion into – social media has brought us. We live in an “instant” world now, where it seems that if you’re not paying attention, you may as well get out of the game.

But that is a cynical view on my part, and the more important lesson I’m learning now is titled, “Superficial Social Networking is Just That – Superficial”. Some things take extra time to sink in. I am still climbing the learning curve where it remains fairly steep, and I cannot see the horizon yet. But I have learned this: it’s wrong to assume that social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are some kind of “magic bullet” that will bring fortune to an entrepreneur. There’s more work to be done than simply sending out a tweet about a new blog post once a week, or mentioning your followers every week in a barrage of #FollowFriday tweets. This brings me back around to the original topic of this post.

It seems that most of us ride the learning curve when it comes to using Twitter. I remember when I first saw a FollowFriday tweet. Actually, it wasn’t just one tweet; it was many, many tweets. The same guy kept popping into my timeline with tweet after tweet listing other users. After I figured out what was going on, I noticed others doing it. Not wanting to be left out, I jumped in head-first tweeting my #FollowFriday tweets along with all the others who were doing it. As soon as I started doing it, my email inbox started filling up with messages from new followers. Wow! This was great. I started following people left and right, and before I knew it, I had a few hundred followers.

Then I noticed something. The number of followers coming in started dropping off. I found myself working harder to put out more, interesting and informative tweets. But this was becoming a one-way street, and I was growing weary of the ride. I needed to pull over and park for a while and reassess my use of social media. I viewed a YouTube video in which Seth Godin was asked a question something like, “Do you think social networking is important for small business, and how would you suggest doing it?” (paraphrase)
His answer made ultimate sense, but it was also a disapointing wake-up call. Godin said that it really doesn’t matter if you have 100,000 Twitter followers. If you don’t have any real relationships with any of them, you’re simply watching a counter that does absolutely no good whatsoever. He went on to describe what a real relationship was… valuable.

Forming valuable relationships (the mutually-beneficial kind) involves more than merely mentioning someone in a tweet along with ten other users. This is what I’ve learned (again) over the past few days of reading posts and comments on the topic of #FollowFriday. It’s easy to get caught-up in the whole I-gotta-have-as-many-followers-as-Bill-Gates syndrome. As I learn about the practice of using twitterbots or paying for followers (neither of which I use) to boost numbers, I’ve decided that I don’t wanna play that game.

This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday. I created a follow tag called #SuperSunday#Follow which I’ve been using to tweet my FollowFriday tweets (on Sunday, of course). But this Sunday will be the last time I do that. After this Sunday, I will instead dedicate myself to forming real relationships with those who want to do the same. I will, no doubt still recommend followers from time to time. But I will mention only one person in a tweet, and only if I have a reason to.

I now realize that people are going to use Twitter the way they want to, and that’s good. Attempts by some to try and “regulate” the use of FollowFriday is futile, unless enough people feel the same way and simply stop doing it. As long as Twitter allows the FollowFriday tweets to continue, then it’s all legal and up to the individual to participate in the #FF practice or not. Twitter is an amazing social network. Its vastness is mind-boggling. However, its effectiveness is in question relating to how it’s used, and that’s up to the individual to find out. Tweet on, tweeples!

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Would You Kill #FollowFriday?

Posted in Information, Social Networking by alangustin on February 2, 2011

There has been some buzz on several blogs about the value of FollowFriday tweets on Twitter. If you’ve had a Twitter account for more than a week, then you are probably familiar with this “tradition”. These tweets, which usually include the hashtag #FF, most often contain a list of between 5 – 10 Twitter account names, as a mention of people to follow. A typical #FollowFriday tweet looks like this:

Here’s another…

If you notice, this guy has created his own version of #FF which he calls #SuperSunday #Follow, that he tweets on Sunday. Can we assume @alangustin either a) doesn’t have the time to #FF on Friday; b) he wanted to create a unique #Follow tag; or c) he didn’t want his #Follow tweets to get lost among the deluge of other #FF tweets taking place on Friday? Perhaps all three reasons apply.

@alangustin is not the only tweeter who has created his own #Follow tag. There are tweeples publishing #Follow tweets on every day of the week… #I’mHappyMonday; #TuesdayTweeples; #WonderfulWednesday; #ThirstyThursday (oops, sorry… that’s the night I go out and drink); and of course, #FollowFriday.

You get the picture, right?

As I understand it, this practice was started by someone who wanted to recommend certain follow-worthy Twitter friends to everyone who follows him. Not a bad idea. If I form a real relationship with one of my Twitter friends, and I get value from following that person, naturally I’ll want to promote him/her by mentioning them in a tweet. In turn, reciprocation brings more followers to everyone involved.

What has happened, due in part to over-zealous application of the #FF practice, is that now people are literally “spamming” by sending out sometimes dozens of these #FF tweets in a barrage that might contain the twitter names of all of their followers, in the hope that this will easily increase the number of their followers.

All of these well-meaning people, who probably really feel as if they are doing a good thing, may need to take a closer look at this practice, and re-evaluate its efficacy. The spawn of #Follow tweets occurring on every day of the week has prompted some to question whether this practice has simply become “noise” in the Twittersphere – taking up precious space on their TweetDeck consoles and diluting its effect to the point of becoming mundane or useless.

It could be suggested that most of the buzz surrounding this topic comes from those who have been successful at obtaining a vast amount of Twitter followers. Conversely, those of us who have a modest number of followers may gain valuable new ones through the use of FollowFriday. Some, who have already gained hundreds of thousands of followers probably consider FollowFriday to be a major distraction, as mentioned before, and naturally desire less noise among their noise. This is the basic premise of the argument (in my humble opinion), and I think both sides have viable opinions and suggestions that should be considered.

To provide some background, please read these blog posts:
The Chris Voss Show
TheNextWeb.com
F. Andy Seidl

As you can see, there have already been some great blog posts about this topic which contain varying opinions. But some think the conversation needs to continue. For those, I post the following questions, which you may answer in your comment.

What to do about FollowFriday?

Simply copy and paste the questions to the comment box, add your answers, then post your comment.
1) How many Twitter followers do you currently have?

2) Do you post #FF tweets?

3) If you answered “yes” to #2, how do you do it? (i.e., are you selective with your list, or do you include all of your followers by using multiple tweets?)

4) If you answered “yes” to #2, do you get new followers via #FF, and if so, is it a significant amount?

5) If you get new followers using #FF, what do you do with them? (i.e., follow-up with contact, add to list, get to know, ignore, etc.)

6) Do you use #FF on days other than Friday? If so, why?

7) Do you automatically Retweet #FF tweets that mention you? If so, why?

8) Would you consider using #FF more effectively, such as limiting your #FF tweets to Friday only? If so, would you put more thought into your #FF tweets?

9) Do you think #FF tweets (and all similar tweets on other days of the week) should stop altogether?

10) Do you feel you have a “right” to tweet whatever you want, and if that includes #FF, then that’s your business?

11) If you could post one question about this topic (not already mentioned above), what would it be?

Some people who use Twitter consider the social network to be an extremely valuable asset pertaining to forming new relationships – whether business or personal. Others use Twitter for mere entertainment. Whatever your reasons for using Twitter, many wish to keep it alive and relevant. Some think that the over-use of #FollowFriday is ruining the Twitter experience for others. Lately, it seems that #Follow tweets are becoming irrelevant by virtue of mere volume. Should we all consider being more creative in the way we approach gaining new followers? Or should we ignore the self-regulating aspects of a social networking phenomenon like Twitter? Each question produces another. So be it.

Follow Up

After enough comments are in, I’ll tally up the results and publish them in a follow up post. We can then discuss the way we might all agree to change our FollowFriday practices so as not to create animosity among the Tweeples.

Note to readers: I am one person who is guilty of sending the “spamming” kind of #FF tweets. I have been practicing #SuperSunday #Follow for a long time, and now I see that there may be a better way to go about gaining new Twitter friends. I include this note so I don’t come off as a hypocrite. Being relatively new to Twitter, I am always open to the suggestions of others. Some of the opinions I’ve read regarding FollowFriday make complete sense, and I look forward to reading the comments of others who may, like me, come away with a new outlook on FollowFriday. There is also a deeper, underlying topic that this post may bring to mind, and that is: “Does it matter that I have 500,000 Twitter followers if I never interact with them on any level?”

…food for thought. — Alan

Resting… my case.

Posted in Information, life, Social Networking by alangustin on November 27, 2010

Every now and then, perhaps once every ten years or so, we busy, busy people deserve a rest.  Even though we may feel guilty for taking a breather for a few seconds, we obsessed types must learn how to force ourselves to recharge.

My mantra used to be, “Sleep is overrated.”

My only drink used to be espresso.

My philosophy was, “All work and no play is the only way to fly!”

In this age of “trying to get on top”, while building a business or ten, while Tweeting and Facebooking and Actual Networking (the real, face-to-face kind) while raising a family and holding down a hobby or ten… damn! I missed that text.

Uh… where was I?

Oh yeah.  In this age of trying to cram a lifetime of work into six weeks, we need all the help we can get.  And I’m not talking about the next Twitter app or multi-tasking tool.  I’m talking about physical-mental-spiritual rest.

What good does it do me to have an abundance of busy-ness if I’m dead, or worse yet, scattered around a bunch of half-baked, ill-planned, projects just for the sake of having them fill every little crevass of my spare time? 

Spare time?  What’s that? I’m going to get to the resting part, the recharging part, later

But thinking about all this brings me around to something that I’m very curious about.

I have a few Twitter accounts.  I have a couple FaceBook pages.  I have a few blogs.  I also have a day-gig, which means that I need to cram my Tweets, Facebook updates, and blog posts into my spare time.

Other people seem to spend all their time Tweeting, updating and posting, or at least, that’s how it seems.  So if they are spending all their time social networking, how in hell do they ever find the time to do some actual work?

Could it be that they are cheating?

Does using TwitterBots qualify as cheating? Are those using robot blog posts being lazy? Do we recognize it when someone is utilizing these “shortcuts” to promote their product or brand?  I think so.  But if everyone else is doing it…

Does the guy with 32,000 Twitter followers actually take the time to read the tweets from all those followers?  Okay… so that would be unrealistic.  How about even one percent of those tweets?  

You see, I believe that there is real value in being real.

Should I rest my case now? Probably. But I mean to keep this conversation going, even if it’s with myself. I hope others will join in, because I am interested in what real value you are finding in Social Networking.