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EcoMonday: Origins of a Twitter Follow Meme

May 18th, 2009 by Max Gladwell · 1 Comment

The confluence of events that lead to the serendipitous success of the #EcoMonday Twitter meme.

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The genesis moment for #EcoMonday was April 24th, 2009, at precisely 1:34 pm Pacific Time. We know this because Twitter keeps up-to-the-minute records of everything we Tweet and Retweet. It was a Friday, and a unique series of events would lead to this Tweet.

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On the previous Wednesday, Brian Wallace of NowSourcing Skyped us about trying the #HealthyHumpday follow meme for health-related Tweeps (Tweeps  = people who Twitter). Two days later he wrote Beyond #FollowFriday: 24 Daily Twitter Memes, a guest post on Mashable.

“So, how can we create a lasting meme? Simple. Make it happen weekly. Much of this started with the genius of @micah’s #followfriday. But hey, why stop with #followfriday? Here are 24 daily Twitter memes to help you meet new Twitterers and discuss common interests.”

We read the post and found it curious that despite a large green contingent on Twitter there wasn’t a follow meme for the sustainable set.

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Concurrently Shea Gunther was dealing with a slow news day at Mother Nature Network (MNN) and decided to post 10 Green Twitterers You Should Follow. This was published at 11:24 am Pacific Time and happened to include Max Gladwell. Two hours and ten minutes later, we sent the original #EcoMonday Tweet.

It was the combination of Brian’s and Shea’s related but disconnected posts that lead us to the following consideration:

There was already #FollowFriday and, evidently, #HealthyHumpday (Wednesday) among others. The problem with #FollowFriday is that it’s far too general. It’s a lot of noise with very little signal, especially when it comes to finding specific types of Tweeps. Even Twitter itself is too broad, which is why we see viable competitors emerging with a more vertical focus. In the meantime, we need various mechanisms to cut through the noise and tune into the feeds that are most important and relevant to us. Round-up articles like Shea’s are quite helpful, but they come and go like any other blog post.

The green Twitter community needed a permanent mechanism. Since there’s not much to look forward to on any given Monday, it made sense that it would be the one day each week that we build and strengthen the green Twitter network by recommending and following one another using the #EcoMonday hashtag. And while the need was clearly there, it almost didn’t happen.

That initial #EcoMonday Tweet on Friday was all but lost in the Twittersphere. It wasn’t Retweeted or acknowledged in any way. It fell on deaf #FollowFriday ears. And it might have been lost forever if Shea didn’t pen a follow-up post for Monday…the Monday that would become the first #EcoMonday.

In the wee hours of the morning on April 27th, Shea followed up his top-10 list with The Great Green Twitter Follow Parade, in which he listed additional green Tweeps to follow and called for everyone to post their Twitter handle in the comments in order to follow one another. “It’s time to connect all the green Tweople!” he wrote.

The post was already generating rapid-fire comments when we sent this Tweet at 10:28 am Pacific Time, roughly six-and-a-half hours after Shea’s post went live: “We suggested starting #ecomonday last week as the #followfriday for green. @sheagunther gives it a boost: http://bit.ly/17EqZ5.”

#EcoMonday was born.

Shea was the first to Retweet it, and several more influential green Tweeps followed. We then added #EcoMonday to the comments of the Follow Parade. All told, that post generated 174 comments, most of which are green Tweeps. A chord had clearly been struck, as #EcoMonday addressed an unmet need in the Twittersphere: to unite and network the green community. In its second and third weeks, #EcoMonday became a top trending topic on Twitter, and more than 1,600 have been referred to date. We know this because that’s how many @EcoMonday is following.

We decided to take this meme a step further by starting the @EcoMonday Twitter account with a specific approach: to follow only those who are referred through the #EcoMonday follow meme. This means that @EcoMonday isn’t playing the quid-pro-quo game of I-follow-you-and-you-follow-me-back. Each Tweep that @EcoMonday follows was referred by a third party. And while it isn’t perfect, @EcoMonday does provide an effective filter mechanism for the green Twittersphere.

In addition to following the #EcoMonday meme, you can simply follow those who @EcoMonday follows in the knowledge that each is a referral. We manage the account and do our best not to follow spam referrals. We’d also like to make the @EcoMonday feed public if that’s possible so others can follow this focused stream of Tweets while enabling the community to @reply unfollow requests for irrelevant and/or spam accounts that manage to get through.

Finally, we set up the Max Gladwell EcoMonday page, where you can monitor the #EcoMonday meme in real time.

A special thanks to @mcmilker for her Ecopreneurist post, which gave #EcoMonday a nice boost.

Happy #EcoMonday to all!


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Tags: Lifestreaming