What the Twitter Bug from Today Should Make Very Clear to You

This afternoon Twitter had a bit of a snafu on their hands. A bug was created that could make users force others to follow them. If you had a close eye on your follow count you may have noticed that you were following more people than you chose to follow manually.

In the process of fixing the bug, for about an hour today everyone’s Twitter followers and people they were following was set to zero. No one was following anyone else. Direct messages became impossible because no one was actually following anyone else, according to the Twitter website.

Some people freaked out, while others rejoiced. Some pondered what this could mean for the internet, status and defining real influencers. Some marveled at the thought of starting over and some people were just silly with the thought that no one could read their tweets.

What you SHOULD have been thinking about

What you should have thought about was the reality that none of your Twitter followers or content on Twitter belong to you, it all belongs to Twitter. The same goes for Facebook, LinkedIn or any of your other favorite social networking sites. Your Facebook photo albums, your contact list on LinkedIn, notes, events created on these sites etc. all belong to someone else.

Twitter did fix the problem but what if they didn’t? What if fixing the bug meant you had to start over again at zero?

Many people who read this blog are using Twitter for business. How would this have impacted your online marketing strategy?

3 things to consider after today’s #followgeddon

  1. Back up your information – Just like you back up your computer, network, email (you do that right?) you should consider backing up your social networking data. LinkedIn easily lets you export your network data. There are online tools to help you export your Twitter followers. Record who your Facebook fans are. What data would you want if that social network was gone tomorrow? Figure that out and save it.
  2. Adding relationships to the sales funnel – How are you taking conversations, leads, connections, inquiries from social networks and recording them? If you have a CRM system, consider a point where you think it is relevant to add connections to your database.
  3. None of your content belongs to you on social networks – Social networks are required to have strong privacy policies. What ends up happening is that they now own any content you put on their websites and they have the right to take anything down they want to. This does not happen very often, especially to businesses that play by the rules but, it very well could happen. Be sure you have all your content you need backed up or on your website (that you own). Social networks are a great way to get people to see your content and move them to your website but you don’t want to rely on them to be the ‘end-all, be-all’ for interacting with your content and business.

Today’s bug was good for a laugh and I don’t believe anyone got hurt but it was a good reminder that all your tweets could go up in a cloud of smoke. Protect yourself, your company and your content by keeping the content and connections that are most important to you backed up.