One of the most confusing things for people who are new to Twitter is:
What is the “#” followed by strange words or letters and, in particular, what is “#ff”?
I have even met people who have been on Twitter some time and still don’t know! If you are starting out on Twitter or see your friends’ Twitterstreams fed into Facebook, it looks like everyone is speaking in code!
Very simply, the # symbol followed by something is called a hashtag. It is a simple way of grouping or uniting topics that people are talking about. Hashtags were created by the Twitter community as a way of categorising topics into fields by tagging them. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol.
Each hashtag becomes a hyperlink which means by simply clicking on the hashtag you can follow the conversation of everyone using that hashtag.
And what is #ff? Well, it is called “Follow Friday” which has been abbreviated over time to just the letters. In theory, on Friday people recommend people that they think are good to follow. In practice, it has lost a lot of its meaning.
This is what you what you will see many people people do.
This person has used the hashtag #ff and followed it by a string of Twitter names. There is no indication whatsoever of why anyone should follow any one of these people.
If you want to recommend someone to follow, do it! Give a reason for people to follow them.
When I started out on Twitter, I used to diligently follow the people who were mentioned in an #ff with me, but now only follow people if I am given a good reason. Follow Friday is a nice idea, but at the moment it seems to be an excuse for people just to string a list of their followers. If you follow someone who is interesting, why not send out Twitter love by giving them a #ff, but put some thought behind it.
If you are new to Twitter and would like my Understanding Twitter Jargon Guide, just leave a comment below and I will email one to you.