By now you should have some traction on Twitter. Some follows, some @mentions, perhaps a few favorited tweets or re-tweets. Today, we are going to work on keeping your Follower:Following Ratio to a reasonable level.
There a few roughl categories of tweeps when it comes to their raw numbers.
1) Celebrity Twitter users who have thousands/millions of followers, but only follow a small percentage.
2) Novice / Spammy Twitter users who have few followers yet are following thousands.
3) Even-steven users that keep a 1:1 ratio. This is most evident with tweeps that consistently follow back everyone that follows them regardless of activity levels.
4) An ideal active Twitter user that has a 3:2 or 3:1 Follower:Following ratio. After a few months of using this rough strategy outlined in this series, your ratio's will start looking like that.
Pruning Your Followers
After replying to any recent follows and interactions via the @ Connect tab as outlined yesterday, go ahead and open up ManageFlitter. The default tab will display everyone not following you back. During your first week, your ratio's will be pretty lopsided, so we'll need to unfollow some folks to balance things out a bit.
Before you chop all of your followers down, sort your list by Following Order (pictured).
The reason this is important, is that you don't want to unfollow people who haven't had ample opportunity to follow you back. In my account today, I have 148 people who aren't following me back. So I'm going to unfollow the oldest 100.
Before I click that "Unfollow 100 Selected" link, I'm going to manually check for folks that I want to continue following in spite of their lack of reciprocation. I found Tumblr, Evernote, both of which I use all of the time. Also, I found Nicholas de Wolff @usdew who I know personally via my work on the board with NFFTY. I select those and click the "Whitelist 3 Selected" link (pictured).
Now I can drag my mouse from lower right to upper left and unfollow the remaining 97 people.
Also check the other criteria on the left column ... when I check mine today, I had no eggheads, fake following, non-english but I did have 4 tweeps who have become "Inactive" (no tweets in 30 days) since Monday - so I unfollowed those too.
This is a task that you should do weekly, adjusted for how often you follow people and at what volumes. If you are following 250-500 per week, then I would unfollow 150 - 300.
Finally, I've arrived at the original question about Follow Friday. You will receive a handful of answers if you ask active Twitter users what #FollowFriday is. I like to think of it in my usual human terms - it's the shout out. You know the kind you hear at concerts, "And I'd like to give a special shout-out to my homies X, Y, Z for supporting my tour." Leslie Walker @ About.com Social Media put together a nice little history and guide on Follow Friday. She mentions FollowFridayHelper.com which is my personal favorite for managing my #FF activities.
Here's the easy way ...
UPDATE: 12/14/2012 - FollowFridayHelper is no more. Bummer. Some other #FollowFriday tools.
1) Browse to FollowFridayHelper.com
2) Login by hitting that big yellow button
3) Click on Mentions
4) Click on the Opener you would like to use (#FollowFriday)
5) Click on the Names (not the profile pics) of the people you want to give some love.
6) Copy the Text generated in the box (pictured ... click on the pic to zoom in)
7) Open up BufferApp.com
8) Buffer it for Friday (you may need to drag the tweet up or down depending on your particular scheduling setup.
If you get too many interactions to cover in a week, cluster them together. I like to use "#FF #Creatives ..." for giving a shout-out to all of the writers, filmmakers and designers I interact with on Twitter.
Well that's it for today.
Stay tuned for my final post in the series, where I'll go over reading your stats, and fine-tuning your schedule, tweet content, and following / un-following habits.
Questions? Leave them in the comment thread below, or just shoot me a call / email.