followfriday – Stay N Alive

Here’s How to Make #followfriday Work With the New Twitter Changes

#followfridayI mentioned on Tuesday in response to Twitter’s new changes that it could be impossible for anyone to see your suggestions on #followfriday if you started your Tweets with an “@”. Based on your responses, my assumption was part right, and part wrong. #followfriday is not going away (as long as Twitter users don’t want it to). You’re just going to have to do it a little differently, and perhaps that’s a good thing.

My point of Tuesday’s post about the changes was to point out Twitter’s attitude and seeming desire to make us use Twitter the way they (the founders and employees of Twitter) use it, rather than the way we like, and how that could affect the very democratically created tradition of #followfriday from week to week. I was amazed at your response! I believe this blog had a new record, currently standing at 101 comments on a single post, all of you sharing your opinions, sharing advice on how it could work, and what you thought of Twitter’s new decision. Twitter has since clarified the Kerfuffle (say that 5 times fast, and why won’t Safari count that as a real word?) in finally a manner that they should have done in the first place. While I would still like some more promise on how they’re going to warn developers of such changes in the future (since we were affected by this as well), I think they’re at least starting to approach this in the right manner.

So, let’s talk #followfriday. It can still work. It just needs to be done differently to work. Lately, while I appreciate all your suggestions and recommendations, I’m noticing a trend which I think these new changes by Twitter actually put an end to. That’s the trend of listing just a whole bunch of Twitter screen names, followed by the hashtag, “#followfriday”, and nothing else. You’ve just recommended me to all your friends, along with about 10 others, and no reason why they should follow you. Do you think anyone pays attention to that? And if they do, will they remember the people you have just recommended? It turns out that with the new Twitter changes those can’t work anyway, because they begin with an “@” sign.

Let’s start a new tradition. I suggest selecting no more than 2 individuals every Friday. They should technically be individuals on more than one service – that can be Twitter and FriendFeed, or Twitter and Facebook, or maybe even Twitter and LinkedIn or whatever other 2 services you want to think of. You should come up with a 140 character version of your tweet, 140 characters for each individual explaining why your followers should follow each of those individuals in as much detail as possible and then post it to a microblogging service (like Twitter) somewhere. Then, on a service that allows more than 140 characters, maybe even your blog, share much more about that individual. Explain what they do, how they got there, what makes them interesting, and better yet, include a picture!

I noticed this last week as my friend, Mari Smith, shared her #followfriday entry on Facebook. She included the name of the individual, a very detailed description of why she was suggesting we become friends with the individual, and she even included a picture! Mari then continued to endorse this individual in the comments.

I think this is a trend we should all continue. Again, your Tweets can’t start with “@” – sure some can in certain instances, but let’s just not confuse ourselves here. Either start your Tweet with #followfriday and a description with the screen name of the individual, or just start your description and include their screen name some where that makes sense. What’s important is that there is detail about the individual. It’s time we start some real dialog here. Let’s build real relationships and do it in style. Make your #followfridays count by doing fewer, but with more substance. Perhaps you could even start in the comments of this post!

Did Twitter Just Kill #followfriday?

TwitterYes, I believe Twitter has just become even less useful. In a very vague statement today that I guess Twitter doesn’t expect us to understand, Twitter removed, without warning or feedback from users it would seem, any and all Tweets in your stream that include @replies to people you are not following. Previously this was an option you could turn on or off, but Biz Stone, founder of Twitter, says in this “small settings update” that “receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today’s update removes this undesirable and confusing option.”

It would appear that Twitter again seems to think Twitter should be used in one way.

What it would appear just happened is in a single blog post, Twitter has killed the weekly phenomena, #followfriday. The tradition was to refer people your followers may not know, but you recommend following. With the removal of this feature, if I’m understanding correctly (please correct me if I’m wrong), you will no longer see #followfriday posts with names of users you don’t follow, rendering #followfriday completely useless.

Confused? Based on the last sentence of their post, it seems that Twitter doesn’t care.

UPDATE: Twitter has removed the last sentence that said “Confused? That’s understandable and exactly why we made the update.” and instead replaced it with the following clarification:

The Importance of Discovery

Spotting new folks in tweets is an interesting way to check out new profiles and find new people to follow. Despite this update, you’ll still see mentions or references linking to people you don’t follow. For example, you’ll continue to see, “Ev meeting with @biz about work stuff” even if you don’t follow @biz. We’ll be introducing better ways to discover and follow interesting accounts as we release more features in this space.

UPDATE 2: It would appear you still can’t see the above Tweet if it starts with @biz and you don’t follow @biz, removing many valuable discoverable Tweets from your stream.

Is Twitter Seeing a New Form of Spam Attack?

Please note this in no way is inferring @nycgrl88 is in any way behind these attacks – it is simply an attempt to figure out why these bots are targeting her.

irobotMy friend Scott Lemon, who runs pointed me to this.  It would appear that someone or something has hacked the Twitter sign up process and is creating hundreds of bot accounts, all with the same messages, including one linking @oprah, @mrskutcher, and someone named @nycgrl88 to #topfollowfriday as a recommendation.  You can see all the accounts via Twitter search result here.  They are all posting exactly the same Tweets, all prefixed by 1luv, and complain of things like not being able to upload a photo or background image, a problem Twitter was plagued with yesterday.

Since @oprah and @mrskutcher are obvious names, I naturally looked at the odd one out in the #topfollowfriday recommendation, @nycgrl88.  Her name is Jennifer Regan, and according to her bio, she goes to NYU and lives in New York.  Oddly enough, all of the @1luv spam accounts are owned by a girl named Jennifer (with bio pics that all kind of look similar, but brunette), who lives in New York and goes to NYU.

Could this be a new type of spam attack on Twitter?  I’m not saying @nycgrl88 is the one behind this, but it would not be very hard to game the sign up with a script, create hundreds to thousands of accounts, all that recommend @nycgrl88 to #followfriday, and benefit from top exposure on those sites to get more followers.  Are spammers really that desperate?

Again, let’s not put the blame on @nycgrl88 until we know what’s going on here, but something fishy is happening – I’m trying to figure out the purpose behind it all.  Am I missing anything here?