Guy Kawasaki – defensive about Twitter spam?

February 11, 2009 by  
Filed under SMO, Social Networking

Darryl King of web development company ireckon conducted an experiment three weeks ago. He publicly tweeted that he was unfollowing Guy Kawasaki because of his spammy Twitter activity.
Specifically, Darryl King said:

“i removed my follow of @guykawasaki as it just seemed to be twitter spam not a conversation.”

Guy obviously tracks his mentions because within five minutes he replied to Darryl.
You can read the exchange here, and see a screengrab below, but basically Guy didn’t seem to take it to well, for a guy with over 50,000 followers at the time. 21 days later and Guy Kawasaki now has 62,000 followers on Twitter.
Guy Kawasaki doesn\'t like his tweets being described as Twitter spam

I bring it up, because again Guy Kawasaki is being accused of Twitter spam. This time by UK/Europe TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher who, obviously not holding back, told Guy “you have nothing to say”.
UK TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher says Guy Kawasaki has nothing to add to Twitter because he can\'t converse.

A search of @guykawasaki spam or guy kawasaki spam shows a little of what some people are thinking about Guy and his Alltop content in Twitter.
I assume in this post that most people know what Twitter is. Guy Kawasaki was accused of Twitter spam because many of the links being posted in his ‘personal’ twitter account were not in fact posted by him.
They are a collection of links, automatically posted in many cases. You can read Guy Kawasaki’s Twitter strategy here in a Paddy Donnelly interview, and also on his blog, Guy Kawasaki: How to Use Twitter as a Twool.
Guy obviously believes in the validity of that strategy, recently suggesting four pages of just his links represented better value than four pages of personal updates from other Twitter users, in a response to Twitter user Jason Aten. Again, Guy seems to get very defensive about his Twitter strategy being described as spamming.
It also presents an interesting situation where Twitter founder Biz Stone is said to have suggested one way of monetising the platform could be to charge brands for “commercial accounts”. That link raced around Twitter, and I questioned at what point individuals like Stephen Fry or Darren Rowse get tagged as brands in Twitter. All the speculation prompted a reply from Biz Stone on the Twitter blog saying Twitter will remain free.
Guy Kawasaki is one who, clearly, believes the @guykawasaki Twitter account is business, not personal. As such, would he qualify as a “brand”? Again, in responding to TechCrunch UK/Europe editor Mike Butcher, you can see Guy fills his feed with commercial links “Because there is no business model for strictly wit and insight. Twitter is a work, not a diversion.”
For Guy Kawasaki, Twitter is strictly business

This entire post came as a result of seeing Mike Butcher’s tweet asking why Guy Kawasaki did not let the @guykawasaki account simply express his wit and insight.
I unfollowed Guy Kawasaki on Twitter a week or two ago. That’s cool. Following him was my choice, as was unfollowing him.

If you follow me on Twitter, and ever think what I put out is spam, or unwanted, let me know. I claim to Twitter about online journalism and new media, but there’s a lot of blather thrown in as well, for example “Arise, and hie thee to #btub coffee! On my way there now”.
Not groundbreaking.

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18 Responses to “Guy Kawasaki – defensive about Twitter spam?”
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  4. Dave Earley says:

    @noelle Thanks for stopping by and defending Guy :) I say “accused” because of the number of people who felt the same way,and I think it was a defensive reaction. People haven’t gone out of their way to call his Twitter feed spam, they have just called it that. It was their opinion.

    @scott In the big scheme of things I think that’s the point, that it’s a matter of pointing out why people might not appreciate the strategy. If it doesn’t change, fine…just so long as it’s out there.

    Twitter generally reacted badly against the advertising tweets, as they would if a person started filling their feed with RSS from a news site. That’s the perception as I see it here. The content is seen as too much a feed from a news site, basically advertising, rather than the individual.  The individual is present in the stream, to be sure, but it seems to lean more towards a non-conversational, “old school” approach.

  5. scott says:

    @Noelle – I agree with your point about a quiet unfollow.However, at times, we need to have some activities pointed out to us, so we can use the feedback to improve they was we do them.I am sure Guy would take such feedback on board to review the approach he has taken to twitter, and determine if it needs adjustment.

  6. Noelle says:

    I find it interesting that on one hand you portray Guy as being “accused” of spam (sounds kinda like being charged for a crime) and then also characterize Guy’s reaction as “defensive.” The two seem to make sense together. No question mark there.The only thing is that I don’t find Guy’s reaction particularly defensive. I do find it a bit aggressive when people go out of their ways to call his twitterfeed spam, especially when it’s unsolicited opinion on something someone puts a lot of hard work into. A quiet unfollow seems all that’s necessary. Then again, I’m biased since I work for Alltop and know Guy. :-p Just a few thoughts.

  7. Dave Earley says:

    @Disco Stu, That was basically my point. It’s entirely up to the individual whether or not they follow or unfollow Guy, but he does seem particularly thin-skinned when it comes to any criticism of the way he uses Twitter. And no, there are no “rules” or “right” way to use it.

    @Darryl King, Let us know when you’ve put up that blog post! And Mark Butcher made the same comment – that he saw no value in what Guy tweeted. On the definition, I guess it’s on whether the content is welcome or not, as to whether one person sees it as spam or not. If someone loves Alltop content, I guess they won’t mind all that “commercial” stuff!

    @Caitlin, Not much you can do, unfortunately, if all your friends are retweeting his stuff anyway! Short of, like you said, unfollowing your friends as well, which I wouldn’t want to do either. I like that you consider your approach to Twitter as a blanced, reasoned decision about how, and when, to do certain things. I don’t put that much thought into it. I’m not “strategic” at all in what I tweet! Unlike you, I don’t consciously think about keeping it balanced, I just do these things whenever they cross my mind: share links I like, say random things I’m doing, interact with some great people and ask them for help occasionally. Sorry about the paragraph breaks not showing up…not sure what the problem is there! Will check it out :)

    @scott, I personally don’t follow someone back until I’ve checked their account isn’t spam, or will be something I’m interested in. And yes, the point of the post was just that, Guy Kawasaki is surprisingly defensive about people describing his Twitter stream as spam… That’s their choice to call it that, and their choice to unfollow, he just needs to chill.

  8. scott says:

    People get totally too caught up with following & followers in twitter. Some feel they MUST follow everyone that follows them, and vice versa.Others also threaten to remove followers who do not DM or reply to their tweets.I feel that is totally ridiculous. Twitter is not a competition, although it is becoming seen as a popularity contest, unfortunately. As if having the most followers somehow makes you special and an authority. No, it just means you may say interesting stuff at times.I recently unfollowed @mayhemstudios purely due to the amount of retweets that calvin was doing. I did not personally see the value in following anymore. It has been said here before, and I think this is a great motto to use when getting involved with Twitter – “My choice to follow. My choice to Unfollow.”Just relax twitterverse.

  9. Darryl King says:

    Hmm Guy is right in 1 context wrong in others.Definition of Spam:–noun

    (lowercase) a disruptive, esp. commercial message posted on a computer network or sent as e-mail.

    or perhapsTo send (a message) indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups.hmmor maybe4. To bombard a newsgroup with multiple copies of a message. This is more specifically called `EMP’, Excessive Multi-Posting. any of which would cover his use on twitter.or of course email spam which he isn’t doing

  10. Caitlin says:

    Aah – all my paragraph marks have disappeared. Sorry for the big chunk of text! I could resubmit with html paragraph breaks…

  11. Caitlin says:

    Guy is right that spam implies sending something without permission and that people have a choice to follow him.However, ‘spammy’ is not the same as ‘spam’. ‘Spammy’ is something that is like spam but technically is not spam. It’s entirely a matter of opinion whether something is ‘spammy’ and it’s often used when something is overly commercial.I don’t follow Guy Kawasaki on Twitter and I’m baffled why so many people do. I have a lot of time for him – I’ve heard him speak at a conference and I’ve read his books. But his Twitter stream has no value for me so I don’t follow it. I might have followed him for about a week when I first joined.There was a time there when my Twitter stream was being filled with tweets about Alltop, posted not by Guy but by people I was following who were presumably following Guy directly. On the one hand, I say it’s great that he has such a powerful network and loyal following. On the other hand, I found seeing identical tweets with a link exceedingly spammy. I actually assumed that it WAS spam and DM-ed about a dozen people letting them know that I thought they’d been infected by a virus or infiltrated by a hacker and they might want to change their password! It never crossed my mind they were doing this voluntarily! Of course I turned out to be wrong and I felt a bit silly but I know from conversations with other Twitter users that I wasn’t the only one.Even after I was reassured that it wasn’t technically spam, I must say the Alltop tweets were seriously diminishing my enjoyment of Twitter. Individual friends were only sending one tweet a day so there wasn’t any one person to unfollow (and nor would I want to unfollow all my friends on Twitter anyway). But it added up to a lot of Alltop tweets per day. There wasn’t much I could do about it and I agree that there’s no one right or wrong way to use Twitter but I didn’t like it much either. It seems to have died down a bit now, thankfully.I do think Twitter has useful purposes for work – I like sharing links to things I’ve written and it’s been a brilliant way to connect with other bloggers and writers. I’ve benefited from some of the network effect myself as people tweet in support of my application for the Tourism Queensland job. But I try to keep my Twitter stream balanced – also tweeting opinions, or sharing links to other interesting things I come across, or engaging in conversations, or supporting other people. I’m not saying that’s the only right way to use Twitter – and I’m aware probably tweet too much – but that’s my approach.

  12. Darryl King says:

    Yep. But the experiment worked. My post was the experiment. Obviously i don’t tweet everyone I unfollow. So was deliberate. Maybe that makes me no better ‘cept it was a 1 time thing.

  13. Disco Stu says:

    You’re right that simply unfollowing someone is not snarky. People do it all the time. But you did choose to make it an issue on your way out. I read it as you wanting to let people know about your views on that sort of use of a twitter account, but I’m not very surprised Guy got defensive.

  14. Darryl King says:

    Hey Disco Stu, you are absolutely right about there being no right way to use twitter. I agree. As Dave Earley said, I made it an experiment which I got a result from. My thoughts however on why will be in a blog post, purely as my Humble Opinion, and not a fact.I didn’t sign up to follow Guy for alltop I can follow alltop for that. And as i also said to him I appreciate his view on it too.Unfollowing though isn’t snarky, I saw no value in what he tweeted, which is why we all get to choose to follow / unfollow. Unfollowing was a choice to stop getting all the alltop spam I wasn’t expecting. Unless of course exercising choice is snarky then I am ‘The Snark’. ;)

  15. Disco Stu says:

    I think twitter can be used in a myriad of ways. I honestly believe there’s no “right” way to use it, unlike the several thousand blog posts out there on the subject. I think King might have been a bit snarky in unfollowing him, but Guy seems to have a bit of a Thing about being called a spam account. Ultimately, as you point out, the choice is there for people to opt out of his service. 62K seem to find something interesting there. Having said that, I’m not one of them :D


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