After Thoughts of SES New York Guy Kawasaki Keynote & His Twitter Use

Guy Kawasaki - SES NYC Keynote March 2009At this year’s SES in New York City the opening day keynote was Guy Kawasaki. Guy presented a lot of stuff about Twitter. Being a man who’s rather well connected, a thought leader in the marketing world and someone who has decent sense of humor, I found myself rather intrigued by this keynote. It was by far the funniest keynote I’ve attended in a long time, and I think humor goes a long way with me being more open to what a speaker is trying to convey.

Guy’s connections allot him a lot of “first cracks” at tools, websites and services that most “Non-A-List” people don’t have access to, so he gets intimately familiar with the marketing aspects some of these tools could be used for. Now with that being said, is every tool presented to him, or pitched to him make it to his list to present at keynotes? Likely not. The tools he did present actually can be used for some genuine marketing and measuring purposes.

I heard a lot of “grumbling” at SES that Guy Kawasaki is a spammer. “If one of us SEO’s told people to use these tools that way, we’d be fried at the stake“, was one cry minus a pitch fork or two. I found myself disagreeing with this line of thought. When you physically have the choice to follow or unfollow him and even the option to block him as well by very simply clicking a button to not see the spam, I find it hard to call what he does with his Twitter account spam. He does come close to the line with his use of TwitterHawk, but if he uses it truly as he showed the audience where he reviews the tweets before they are sent, then, I really don’t see how that is spam. This is using a tool to help market your message in a unique way.

Tweeting isn’t like searching. With search results, scheming websites are made by the thousands to spam the search engine results and as searchers we don’t have the control like you do in Twitter to just block the result and not see it every again (however, technically you can now with Google’s Search Wiki). With search spam you don’t have the option to “unfollow” like you do in Twitter. If you don’t like what Guy’s tweeting, simply go to his profile and click “unfollow” or “block” and what you call “spam” will cease – “walla!”

There are over 95,000 people following Guy Kawasaki. Apparently those people are finding something of value from the information he and his staff tweet out. We as SEO’s may label his tactics “unethical” or “gray”, but I have a hard time even doing that. I also asked the question on my own twitter, “Is Guy Kawasaki a Spammer or just a Marketer using tools in a unique way”. To my surprise, the opinions came back overwhelmingly that he was a savvy marketer.

I also heard a lot of people making such a fuss about Guy Kawasaki “ghost tweeting”. I took a step back and had to honestly ask myself if it was ghost tweeting if the person readily admits on stage he has people tweeting with him in his account, if he puts it on his profile and readily tweets about it. It’s not ghost tweeting, he’s being transparent, he’s been up front about it for a while now. Would I recommend a client setting off to do what Guy’s doing? Most likely not the same way, again the value to the audience dictates how to work the social media strategy.

Then this morning, Tim O’Reilly was surprised because of the New York Times article that included 2 paragraphs about Guy’s “ghost tweeting“. This particular tweet has been retweeted over and over again. Shock, Drama, Outrage! But why? The man has stated for a while he’s had help with his tweeting, he says he does it to an audience at both SES and SxSW, he has it stated on his Twitter account (also states names of who helps him) after asked to amend it by Dave Fleet, and readily admits it in his tweets when asked. I guess people would like him to add “TRGK” on his tweets for “The Real Guy Kawasaki” for the one’s he tweets? What’s the sense in that – if you don’t like what he and his team tweets – unfollow him.

Then there were outcries that Guy’s a “broadcaster”. I’ve been watching his tweet stream closely. The man (and Guy states it is him who responds, not his team) does interact with his audience, he doesn’t just send out link after link. If it was link after link that truly delineated a spam account from a ‘real’ account, wouldn’t CNN’s account then be considered a spammy twitter account? It’s about the perceived value of the content to the audience. Apparently Guy’s content is valuable to his audience because not only are his followers growing, but look how often he’s ReTweeted. In social media its about the value the end user perceives they are getting, if Guy’s figured out how to give his audience what they want through using tools like Twitterhawk and Adjix, more power too him.

Might some of his tactics float around the “grey” area of marketing and spamming? Perhaps, but I keep going back to those nearly 100k followers who not just speak to him but retweet not just his links but what he says to say they obviously don’t mind, obviously they are seeing value in Guy’s “Spam”. Ironic, no? I think this goes to prove a point that “spam” in Social Media it truly is about the value the end user is getting, not the tactic by which they receive it.

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7 thoughts on “After Thoughts of SES New York Guy Kawasaki Keynote & His Twitter Use

  1. Interesting post!!

    It should be mentioned that Guy follows more people than follow him. That’s certainly part of his marketing genius. Most of us enjoy being followed and many reciprocate at one point or another.

  2. Andrew: Guy follows people than follow him because he autofollows everyone who follows him — and sometimes those people then unfollow him (probably because they don’t like the way he tweets.) So an imbalance is created. He’s not a marketing genius.

    Li: Innocent question, but were you at the keynote in question? I’m just curious.

    I took a lot of slack for my keynote commentary on Guy’s post, so I’ll share my thoughts concerning it. I don’t like the way Guy uses twitter. That’s my preference and it’s why I unfollowed him a long, long time ago. What bothered me about the keynote, however, was the way he seemed to mock both twitter and his followers. It was a total lack of respect. The entire tone of the talk and the way he was taking shots and the intelligence level of people who twitter was really revolting to me. I value the people who follow me on Twitter. It’s clear Guy doesn’t. that’s where my distaste for it came from, not necessarily over how he uses it.

  3. Lisa – yep I was there, right in the front row, Loren Baker sat next to me.

    I guess everyone takes/reads/feels differently about a lot of things. I really don’t feel the Guy mocks people on twitter, in fact he answers when he sees it, and he addresses issues – example: dave fleet’s post. He was also saying 6-8 weeks ago before Dave’s post he was having help with his twitter account – very upfront about it.

    The one thing that people are forgetting, at least I think they are, Guy’s never professed to be a “social media guru” or a “twitter guru” – the guy is a straight up marketing guru, and there in lies the difference.

    Wasn’t offended, but I found it very fascinating the sort of responses (wide range) about his keynote and how he utilizes twitter tools. 🙂

  4. Well I’ve followed Guy for quite some time… mostly because I’m far too lazy to unfollow. I have to say that Lisa really was spot on with her summary of how Guy tweets. I can say however that I’ve noticed that he’s actually adding in more content than ever since I read Lisa’s post. Possibly Guy too read the post and has decided to change his tactic. If so, then good. I’m all for cleaning up that cesspool that is the Internet 😉

    I enjoyed Lisa’s frank take on Guy’s keynote. Li, I noticed that you wrote a fairly glowing review of Guy and he’s marked it in turn as a “balanced review”. I don’t know Guy from a bar of soap so I imagine the real story lies a little in the middle somewhere. While I find Lisa’s comment that “Guy is a Tool” a little harsh I also found it very amusing 😀

  5. I’m a follower of Guy, and have been off and on since The Macintosh Way. He’s articulate and engaging, even if he sometimes rehashes the obvious.

    His approach to Twitter is professional. He clearly sees Twitter as a fast-growing audience he can capture. That’s what he’s great at: engaging an audience.

    In a way, he’s sort of a blend of PayPerPost and just, well, Guy.
    What do you expect from a Chief Evangelist?
    Mark Alan Effinger
    Chief Evangelist

  6. @Robert,

    thanks for contributing, sorry I didn’t get to this right away!

    i don’t know that I’m “Glowing” with the review. I feel more that I’m trying to point out that Guy’s not a “Social media guru” or twitter guru – nor does he profess to be one. He’s a marketer, plain and simple. He’s figuring out how to use technology in unique ways.

    What I’m also saying is that for all the cries he’s a spammer, I really do not find that true. Questionable ethics in using Twitter, perhaps, pushing the envelope – definitely.

    Just do not think he’s as bad as what everyone is yelling about. 🙂

    And if you don’t like what he’s doing, just don’t follow him – simple as that 🙂


  7. Hi Li

    I’m slightly at odds with the idea that he’s not a spammer because people don’t have to follow him. If they don’t like it, they simply need to unfollow. I’m not saying he is a spammer but I don’t think that assessment is quite robust enough because, even if you have no followers at all, you can still be spouting out links through a Twitter account that will appear in Twitter searches. Tweet a lot of rubbish and you start to diminish the percentage of useful stuff that can be gleamed from an isolated Twitter search.


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