Monday, November 03, 2014

Social Media Stress in the Twitterverse (a.k.a., Betrayed by a Close Friend)

Most of my readers know that my work has slowly evolved to place me somewhat smack dab in the middle of the social media space. I launched World Vision on some key social media platforms (blogging, Twitter, and Facebook) back in the 2006 - 2008 timeframe, and since that time have continued to focus on social media and internet tools for the various departments I've worked with.

The focal point of my social media interaction has been Twitter. I launched World Vision's first two Twitter streams (@WorldVisionUSA and @WorldVisionNews) in January 2008, and two months later launched our international Twitter stream (@WorldVision) as well as my own personal stream (@LarryShort). I eventually handed off @WorldVision and @WorldVisionUSA to fulltime social media professionals. The former, today, has over 406,000 followers; and @WorldVisionUSA has 187,000 followers. I continue to manage @WorldVisionNews for the Media Relations team here. We have nearly 17,000 followers, many of them journalists. And I also continue to work to build my own personal stream, @LarryShort, which has over 9,000 followers.

It takes a lot of work to get followed by a lot of people. I mean, you can pay money for this, although the quality of followers you get if you do will be very poor. So, good, old-fashioned elbow grease is what the doctor ordered. You have to leverage your Twitter account through other social media accounts, put out good content on a consistent basis, interact / engage consistently with your followers, and find and follow like-minded people.

I've frequently reflected that Twitter has become a good friend, as it is a key tool through which I've been able to make a mark on behalf of my profession, as well as share my life with friends. With more than a half million people following streams I've created and managed, I also feel like Twitter has benefited from all of my hard work, as well.

Which is one reason I've recently been so thoroughly appalled to be treated like dirt by our friends at Twitter. Late last week I opened up my personal stream to see a stark message posted across the top of it: "Twitter has disabled this account." The message accused me of abuse of some sort, of breaking the Twitter rules, although it didn't specify exactly what that abuse entailed or which rule(s) I had broken.

As I followed the links offered in the warning message, I was led to a place where I could have my account reinstated if I clicked a link indicating that I agreed with the rules. I went and read all the rules carefully (which I had done several times before). None of them had I violated in any way, as far as I could tell. (In fact, I hadn't done anything different than what I always do.) So, I checked the box to indicate I agreed with their rules, and my account was reinstated. Sort of.

Actually, for about a day all of my hard-earned friends ... both people I was following, and people who were following me back ... disappeared. I was warned by Twitter (without any explanation as to why this is true) that it might take some time for my friends to be restored.

And eventually they were. The only apparent residual effects of this negative and stressful episode (other than my wounded ego) appears to be that my Klout score took a nose dive during this period of disablement, plunging 3 full points overnight (from 60 to 57 ... fortunately, today's it's started nosing back up, and stands right now at 58). This was a first in the few years that I've been building and monitoring my Klout score, so I have no doubt it was related to Twitter's punishment of me.

And the question lingers: Punishment for what? What exactly did I do to deserve this treatment? I still have no idea.

Thus, I sent a direct message to Twitter's @Support team, and asked them to please give me details. Nearly a week later and I still haven't heard anything back from them. So far, complete silence.

So, the message I've taken from all this, so far, is: Even if you've been very good to Twitter, and follow all their rules, somehow they can still (apparently capriciously) punish you for something they say you did (without specifying what it was). You suffer away, having no idea exactly what you did to incur their wrath.

Not knowing what I did wrong, I have no idea whether I might incur their wrath again at any moment. And next time, no doubt, they will simply shut me down. No recourse, no appeal, no communication, no nothing -- just bam, you're dead.

Which would be a serious blow to my professional standing as a social media guru, not to mention my social media psyche. I've invested a lot of work building up those 9,000 followers. I definitely don't want to (and won't) start all over again. I'd rather dedicate myself to warning everyone not to use such a capricious social media platform.

Hence, I've become "very nervous" now when using Twitter. I'm far less likely to post, to seek new followers, and to engage. When you don't know which button caused everything to explode, you have a tendency to stop pressing buttons.

Anyway, I'm sure you're probably thinking all this angst over something as frivolous as Twitter is just plain silly. Possibly so. The problem for me is the level of investment I've made in this platform. It might be sort of like a person who has invested all his spare time polishing and preening his antique car, and taking it on the road to car shows, only to have his driver's license suddenly revoked for some reason he cannot comprehend.

No doubt this is an ongoing story, and hopefully I will get some answers from Twitter soon and be able to update you on what you can do to avoid what happened to me. So stay tuned. More from the Twitterverse later!


Larry Short said...

Just an interesting footnote. During the past 2 days since I wrote this, my Klout score has suddenly rocketed back up PAST where it was when this ordeal occurred. It now sits at 61. Weird.

Dave said...

Hi Larry, I don’t use twitter so I may just be flapping my gums here but it sounds like the reason may be cross posting across multiple accounts as you posted that you manage several accounts for World Vision.


Larry Short said...

Thanks Dave! That was actually a very helpful blog. I do manage three accounts (church, work, and personal), and I RT quite a bit between the work account and my personal account. I'm now wondering if that's what ran me afoul of Twitter's TOS. It's a shame, but I guess I'll have to back off a bit.