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Summary:

You might have noticed that your number of Twitter followers has dropped to zero today. Twitter is currently undergoing maintenance to fix a bug, and as part of that process follower/following counts have temporarily been reset to zero. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

You might have noticed that your number of Twitter followers has suddenly dropped to zero today. Twitter is currently undergoing maintenance to fix a bug, and as part of that process follower/following counts have temporarily been reset to zero. This isn’t the first time this has happened. But it is the first time in a long time, and during that time we’ve all become accustomed to having followers on Twitter and believing those followers are “ours.”

This brings up a really great point that my business partner made to me today as we watched our Twitter followers and our client’s followers disappear: We don’t pay Twitter — or Facebook or most other social networks for that matter — to manage our social assets. We are getting this “stuff” for free. And this “stuff” is becoming more and more valuable to us.

This “stuff” is friends, fans and followers (or FFFs, as we refer to them in my company). The power of our friends, fans and followers eclipses the power of most people’s email lists because of their inherent ability for conversation and engaging interactions.

So what do you do when you lose followers on Twitter, or fans or friends on Facebook, or contacts on LinkedIn? Do you stop doing business? Do you stop communicating with your FFFs? Have you even considered a backup plan for times when the volatile free services we are relying on suddenly erase our assets? I’ve been using Backupify to archive my tweets, but if it isn’t archiving my Twitter settings including followers, then I’m still potentially losing assets.

Are we all suckers on the social web relying on the grace, generosity and skills of other companies to maintain the integrity of our company’s assets with the same kind of diligence and care that we would do for ourselves if we had the means? We control our web sites, but we certainly don’t control Twitter or Facebook and yet we entrust these companies — who we are not paying — to hold our assets dear.

I’m sure Twitter will restore our “lost” followers. During this time, it doesn’t appear as if we are speaking into a vacuum. I still see the stream of tweets from people I’m following. We just seem to be missing that magic “Followers” number on our Twitter pages. And this makes us uncomfortable, sad — even angry.

How dependent are you on your Twitter following to get things done? What are you doing to back things up so if a social network you’re using goes down, you haven’t lost your assets?

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.): Facebook vs. Open: The Fight For the Soul of the Web

  1. Hi Aliza,
    Actually, Backupify does pull your friends and followers too. In general, we pull anything and everything we can via the APIs of these services.

    Rob

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  2. In the back of my mind I was thinking the same thing today. Twitter is free. When they have a malfunction, I have to be satisfied that what they’re doing to fix it and when they fix it, should do for me. Without realizing it often, I do find free social media valuable. It’s been helpful in understanding who likes my stuff or willing to tolerate what I tweet.
    I still love Twitter no matter what their malfunctions are and maybe the main reason is it’s free.

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  3. In TweetDeck I don’t see my follower numbers so never would have noticed. To me the value is in the people behind the number, the number itself is meaningless.

    sb

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    1. Indeed, Scott; this particular issue was not very important and was resolved fairly speedily. However, Aliza’s wider point was that we’re placing an awful lot of trust in services that we have no control over and that hold increasingly valuable “stuff” is a good one.

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  4. This is a great point, Aliza. This isn’t the first time that a glitch on Twitter has caused followers to be “dropped” – something similar happened last year.

    I think one wise idea might be to encourage people periodically to “follow” via another format, and not rely too much on one tool. While I’m intrigued by Backupify, the issue I have with signing up with another service, is the potential for that as well to have technical difficulties, or a sudden switch in their “free” services to “paid”.

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  5. [...] Lost Followers on Twitter? Sucker! Web Life [...]

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  6. [...] Lost Followers on Twitter? Sucker! Web Life [...]

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