Guy Kawasaki Twitter Spam

Let me start by saying that I’m a huge admirer of Guy Kawasaki.   Rules for Revolutionaries is one of my favorite books.   I have purchased every book Guy has published, and even purchased his CDs.   And I will continue to purchase anything he puts out there.   He is someone whose judgement I admire and trust.  

I have seen guy speak at events at least half a dozen times, and had the opportunity to sit next to him on a flight and enjoy a great conversation.   Guy is not only a knowledgeable person, he is a super nice, personable guy.   But…he spammed me.  

I first encountered Twitter back at SXSW in 2007, and I could not see the point of it.   Why would I want to keep updating a service as to my whereabouts?   I could understand doing it while at SXSW, it was a way to loosely arrange to meet up with friends, much like other services that were already out.   But I really didn’t see why I would want to use Twitter on regular basis.

Since then I have given Twitter a chance.   I have found that I’m too boring to be a good Twitter user.   I update when I go out to see a movie, and let friends know what I thought.   I’ll do the same for restaurants, or whatever.   In short, I’m not a heavy Twitter user.  

But I did quickly subscribe to people I really like and wanted to know more about.   Guy Kawasaki was one of those people.   Like me, Guy didn’t really get the point of Twitter.   He wondered who would want to know about someone’s cat rolling over, or other non-interesting events.   But he was giving it a go, and I figured Guy usually has interesting things to share when I speak to him, so I figured he would be a good person to follow.

At first all was well.   Guy would add something interesting every now and then, occasionally update where he was speaking, much like Tim Ferriss, another person I admire.   But then I started seeing an increase in my tweets from Guy.   After some time, I was getting a steady stream of tweets that were outnumbering my other tweets in aggregate by 2 – 1.  

My issue is not that I was getting a lot of tweets, it was that they weren’t real tweets, they were constant updates with links to articles that are apparently things thought to be cool on Alltop, Guy’s latest project, mixed in with updates about Alltop like “New furniture section on Alltop”.  

I had mixed feelings on this.   Can I really call something Spam simply because there is a lot of it?   Well, going back to the root of the term, if it’s something I didn’t ask for, then it’s Spam.   What I asked for was updates from Guy Kawasaki, not Alltop.   Alltop has it’s own Twitter.  

Then there is the whole hypocrisy idea.   I created the first company that paid people to blog about specified subjects.   Why should I take offense at Guy leverging his readers to push out his company?

I decided to let this go at first, figuring maybe Guy would move back into using Twitter as a personal thing, rather than a marketing tool for Alltop.   But hearing Guy speak at the last Blogworld about how he uses complexed software with multiple panes to monitor and control multiple Twitter accounts, I realized that this was just going to continue.   So after a few weeks more, I decided to stop “Following” Guy.   I made a quick tweet that I was stopping because of the Spam.   I don’t check my Twitter a whole lot while not traveling, so I didn’t notice the response from Guy asking how it can be Spam if I elected to follow him.   Since I’m not anywhere near articulate enough to properly respond to that question in 140 characters, here is my long winded response.

Guy, I elected to Follow you on Twitter because I value your opinions and experience.   If you say a book is worth reading, I’ll check it out.   If you say that an article is interesting, I’m reading it.   And there is nothing wrong with a little self promotion.   Just this evening I got a tweet from Tim Ferriss about his new TV show that premiers tonight.   I’m happy to hear about it.   But pushing out your company at the rate you are through your Twitter account feels a bit Spammy.   I’m aware that you were not put on this earth to amuse and educate me, and that you need to push out your business, but I subscribed to your Twitter, not Alltops.  

If I have misread the situation, and you truly find the plethora of articles you forward to me everyday to be personally interesting, and you’re not just pushing out Alltop, then I apologize.   And you certainly shouldn’t feel any obligation to letting people like me dictate how you use Twitter.   I’m not sure that anyone can lay claim to the true Twitter etiquette.  

I don’t have the level of followers as you, and I don’t follow as many people.   I just follow people who I know, or enjoy hearing from.  

That’s my 2 cents.   For the record, I’m not calling Guy a Spammer, I’m just saying that I personally thought his Twitter account became a bit too Spammy.  If you disagree, feel free to say so.


  1. A friend of mine who is passionate about Twitter as a social, not a commercial medium, wrote a very thoughtful piece on why she is annoyed by Guy. (Citing many of the same issues as you.)

    Guy responded with nasty Tweets to the point of calling her a “female dog”.

    As a former fan of Guy, I was incensed and wrote this post:

    But of us are now being flamed by some of his more avid followers (which we can’t blame him for), but, disturbingly, he’s continued to make snarky comments about our responses.

    Not the Evangelist Guy who used to encourage people to engage with their customers (and we are “customers” of his on Twitter) and bring them, with enthusiasm, into loving the product.

  2. @Lisa – Glad to hear I’m not alone on this, and disappointed to hear Guy behaved so rudely. Hopefully I won’t get the same level of disrespect for having an opinion.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Totally agreed. I stopped following Guy as well. He turned into a spammer. And Alltop is stupid. Just a bunch of links to sites. Not very creative, and not very sticky, and no barrier of entry for competitors. The only reason it gets traffic is because it’s Guy’s site. It will never grow beyond that level.

  4. @Dave Thanks for the comment. I do agree that Alltop doesn’t look like a very creative idea, but I don’t really know where Guy wants to take it.

    It seems to me that the Alltop idea is not a new one, other than Guy framing it as a “magazine”. I get what he’s saying is that he is collecting the best writers on all different subjects, and creating a portal. But I imagine that anyone who uses this and finds a good source of info will just subscribe to the feed directly.

    But there are ways to monetize that as well, so maybe Guy has a good plan. It’s not for me to judge the business model of others. Guy is a pretty smart guy who I’m sure has some ideas of where he wants to go with his business.

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