Lost Followers on Twitter? Sucker!

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

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