Micah July 5th

Twitter Memes

Because of the success (or failure, depending on who you ask) of #followfriday, I field a lot of email, tweets and (even an interview or two) about Twitter memes.

People want to know how to start their own. People want to know what it takes to make their spanking new meme as big as #followfriday. Usually, I answer the same way: “I dont know.”

After all, lets a moment to reflect on the beginnings of #followfriday. I sent a tweet, I asked a couple of friends to send a similar tweet. I went to work. Tens of thousands of people began to send tweets with #followfriday in them.

Between the going to work and tens of thousands of people sending #followfriday tweets, I did NOTHING. I didnt register the @followfriday username, didnt really care about the FollowFriday.com domain. I just went to Lijit and sat in a few meetings and sent an email or two (and perhaps, given it was Friday, wrote a blog post).

Thats it.

So a better question becomes, why do I THINK #followfriday became so big, and such a vital part of the Twitter landscape?

There are three pieces to the pie:

1) it was easy.

2) it allowed people to show off the cool people they follow.

3) it made people feel good about themselves.

Thats it.

Oh, and by the way, the name “followfriday”? It wasnt mine. It was a suggestion. A great suggestion.

Why was it followFRIDAY? Because it happened to be Friday when I sent the first tweet.

Now since January, when #followfriday started, there have been dozens and dozens of attempts to start day-based twitter memes. None have really taken off in the same way. Is it because #followfriday is so amazing? While I wish I could claim that, in truth, #followfriday made any other day-based meme appear to be a copy. Which took some of the steam out of the sails of that attempted meme.

Would it be possible to have another day-based meme? Probably. #musicmonday seems to be taking off. (although I dont know why this hasnt migrated to Blip.fm so I can actually listen to the recommended music)

Which is interesting. It seems that recommendation is really the key to a sustained Twitter meme.

Lets add that as a fourth component. Now, its:

1) it was easy.

2) it allowed people to show off the cool people they follow.

3) it made people feel good about themselves.


Twitter, as a short form of communication, and as a thought dump, doesnt allow for recommendation. I cant on my twitter page highlight users that I would recommend to others. We all know that the Twitter suggest list is a bullshit potential monetized list of people, who individually add little or no overall value.

So why hasnt twitter come up with a recommendation system for users? Well, its really hard. I could recommend the same person to a dozen people, and eleven of those people might not like my recommendation.

Recommendation is a highly personalized activity. My influence and track record affect how my recommendations are accepted for a short time, but if I continually make bad recommendations, that cache is lost.

Its why there is a movement to make #followfriday what it was: one or two recommendations with reasons.

Of course, recommendation only fits into a sustained twitter meme. The event driven twitter memes (#MJdied) are driven by the events themselves. The humor memes (#3wordsaftersex) are driven by the humor, which tends to fizzle in the short attention-span world of twitter.

Why is recommendation so important for sustained Twitter memes? Is it because there are no other vehicles for recommendation within twitter? Is it because we as an internet generation just love the ability to recommend? Or is it our desire to show/share what we know/like? (There is a great opportunity to go on a Facebook/FriendFeed “like” discussion here…but I wont.)

I dont know.

But I do know, that I take intense pleasure in sharing/recommending/liking my friends and the great things they do.

Which makes me glad there is a #followfriday.

And, makes me want to start a #sundayshout where I share blog posts/pictures/videos/etc that my friends have made, or I have found online, every sunday morning. It reminds me of reading the Sunday paper with my parents and sharing things we are reading from the various sections of the paper.

Will it work?

I have no idea.

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Micah March 4th

Who Be You Be?

There is a trend on Twitter. Its an awful, awful trend.

At least, I think its awful.

People are changing their Twitter names to their real names.

Can you believe it?

Truthfully, I am not sure how I feel.

Today, my friend Frank Gruber, who always introduces himself as “Frank Gruber, of SomeWhatFrank,” (the name of his blog), changed his twitter name to @FrankGruber. He claims that a recent post by Chris Messina (who I have never met, but admired from afar for awhile) helped to convince him of the change.

Chris’ post is well written. His writes:

So factoryjoe isn’t going away — not entirely at least. It’s a useful vessel to inhabit and I’ll continue to do so. But on Twitter, Facebook, and on my homepage, I’ll use my real name. There is simply no longer a good reason to differentiate between who I am online, and who I am off, if ever there was.

I have never used a pseudonym. I have always been micahb37 (on AIM/Y!/MSN/flickr and many other services), micahb (on gtalk, gmail, and other newer services) or micah (primarily on Twitter, but other stuff too).

My primary reason was always simple. I could never think of anything better than my uncommon given name of Micah.

Over time, that reason began to also include the even simpler philosophy of Popeye: “I ams What I ams.”

I have never felt the need to separate my online and offline identities. I dont know why. Its not like I made the choice one day. I just have never seen the need.

Perhaps its the conscience of self that my parents inadvertently taught my sisters and me by being supportive of the choices we have made. Or perhaps its the realization that my “online” me is really just another side of the “offline” me, which at the end of the day, is just me.

And here comes the tangent…

Of all the things one person can give another, I cherish trust above all else. It is the hardest thing to earn, and the easiest to lose. I try to be consistent in my actions and reactions to ensure that people continue to trust me, and that starts for me, with my name.

If the first thing I do is provide a fake name, what does that say about my ability to earn your trust?

Ok, back on point (I think).

Why do I dislike the movement of people on twitter going to their real names?

I dont know. It feels like a loss of identity. It feels like a loss of “flavor.”

But, what I like is that people are beginning to realize that there is no such thing as personal brand, or online brand, or offline brand. There is just you.

And who be you be?

Micah January 17th

Follow Friday. Oh My!

Followers on Twitter are an interesting thing. There is much discussion about how its not how many followers one has, but how many people you follow.

Yet, for some reason, people still grade themselves on followers. Loic Le Meur (which Michael Arrington agreed with) suggested that a filter be added to Twitter’s search function that allows the searcher to sort by number of followers.

Often, I get people asking me to tweet out that my followers should follow them. (Of course, as the Anti-Christ of Twitter, people usually lose followers when I do that).

Yesterday morning, I was having an IM conversation with my friends Jeffrey and Danny. Both are among my favorite people.

Danny is one of the first people I met when I moved to Colorado, and I was an advisor on one of his early startups, Zuvo. We have been friends for a long time, and he is one of the smartest, most creative people I know.

Jeffrey I met recently. He moved to Colorado several months ago, when a portion of his company skinnyCorp, who run Threadless, (If you havent bought stuff from Threadless, you just arent cool) moved here. As the Chief Creative Officer of skinnyCorp, Jeffrey not only is a designer but an idea creator.

Jeffrey and Danny are both highly intelligent, creative, humorous people, that I enjoy hanging out with daily. Their tweets are no different.

As I got ready to go into the Lijit office (I was moving slowly because I thought it was Saturday.), I started thinking about how proud I was to be friends with Danny and Jeffrey, and more people should follow them on twitter. So I sent this tweet out:

First Follow Friday Tweet

First Follow Friday Tweet

Almost immediately afterwards, Mykl Roventine (@myklroventine) suggested:

FollowFriday hashtag suggestion

FollowFriday hashtag suggestion

Which, of course, was brilliant. I then sent direct messages to a few of my friends: Chris Brogan, Erin Kotecki Vest, Aaron Brazell, Jim Kukral and Andrew Hyde (who decided to not participate, calling it a “spammer lovefest”) asking them to retweet a simple message “Follow Fridays – suggest someone to follow / everyone follow / use the hashtag #followfriday”

And, then I headed into the office and my first meeting of the day.

When I got back to my office, and finally fired up my machine, #followfriday tweets were flying all over twitter. It was wild. It continued throughout the day:

FollowFriday Usage Graph

FollowFriday Usage Graph

Near the end of the day, almost every half second, a tweet went out with the hashtag #followfriday.

At the end of the day, I decided my final FollowFriday tweet would suggest two people that have taught me important lessons. Matt Hessler (@fasterstill) has taught me the importance of friendship, and Meg Fowler (@megfowler) who has taught me the importance of love. Interestingly, Matt and I have been friends for years and talk every day. Meg I met several months ago online, and have never met in real life. Quite the juxtaposition.

Final Follow Friday Tweet

Final Follow Friday Tweet

It was awesome. By the end of the day, my name was no longer associated with the tweets. Which was awesomer.

It had taken on a life of its own. Which was awesomest.

Here is what twitter was able to confirm for me: People are proud of their friends.

It wasnt hard for people to suggest folks to follow, because everyone has people they follow that they find interesting, insightful, funny, intelligent or whatever it is that makes you love to interact with another person (online or off).

Maybe, instead of all the various reasons marketing and social media experts have put out there about why twitter has become so successful, the real reason is that people enjoy relationships with people they can be proud of, and in return, want other people to be proud of them.

If you cant be proud of who you call friend; and in return if others cant be proud to know you, then you are doing it wrong.

Doesnt sound so complicated to me.

Update: A couple of people asked me if I got any new followers. I get about 50-60 new followers daily (with about 20-30 unfollows every day). Yesterday, according to my email from SocialToo (my friend Jesse Stay‘s startup), I got 229 new followers, with 26 people unfollowing.

I cant recommend SocialToo and Jesse Stay enough.