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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