The Guy Kawasaki Kerfuffle

There is a growing outcry against Guy Kawasaki’s, um, aggressive techniques on Twitter. In a number of recent keynote addresses, Kawasaki has described how he uses Twitter as an advertising channel for his ventures. There is also much concern over his use of ghost twitterers.

Here are some of the postings he has inspired in the last couple of weeks:

I’ve been fortunate to see Guy Kawasaki speak on countless occasions, meet him a few times, and, if memory serves, even have dinner with him once (as part of a large group, thanks to an invite from Bob LeVitus). I’ve always found him a fascinating personality, and his advice on building amazing products and providing outstanding service is a lesson that the corporate world still needs to learn.

He’s also a shameless self-promoter. At least since he left Apple, the most important product to Guy Kawasaki has been Guy Kawasaki.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a shameless self-promoter. Heck, I wish I were better at that myself.

When I first joined Twitter (six months or so ago), I of course followed Guy Kawasaki. I love his books. I love his blog. I expected to see him tweeting about lots of interesting things.

Instead, what I received was an endless stream of unrelated, uninteresting crap. I quickly unfollowed him.

I’m also not a huge fan of the concept of ghost writing. It doesn’t seem genuine to me (although in certain cases, such as Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett’s blog, an exception is probably warranted).

And, where it’s undisclosed (such as was the case initially with Kawasaki), it’s disingenuous.

I’m reminded of Cory Doctorow’s concept of wuffie. Essentially, it represents the trust, influence and karma that comes from the quality and quantity of your social connections. In Doctorow’s world, wuffie is an actually measured score, but as a concept it exists today.

Kawasaki is spending his wuffie rather quickly in the way he’s using Twitter. Fortunately for him, he has quite a bit to spend.

At some point, however, the credibility well may run dry.

5 Comments on “The Guy Kawasaki Kerfuffle

  1. David Leonhardt (ghost writer agency)

    I saw this posted on Sphinn, and I felt I had to respond, given that one of the things we do is run a ghost writer agency.

    There’s nothing wrong with hiring a ghost writer; it happens all the time with big, fancy folks like celebrities and ex-presidents. And even on Twitter, it’s not the head of CNN that posts and it’s not the head of Maclean’s that posts; those are ghost tweeters. It’s most likely a series of people, in fact.

    The tricky part here is that expectations are different on Twitter. First, Guy is unquestionably presented as a person, not as a corporation. Second, people like to feel like they are speaking to a real person, not to a brand.

    That being said, the other side of Guy is that he is an Internet celebrity and it should seem obvious that anybody following as many people as he does and tweeting as much as he does is not doing it all by himself (C’mon, everybody raise your hands if you think Guy Kawasaki’s watch has 56 hours on in!).

    I’m not here to defend Guy; if you think he sends out drivel, don’t follow him. If you like his stuff, follow him. But don’t get angry because he uses a ghost writer to deliver so much material. Who cares how much of it he writes himself?

  2. Yura

    David, I think Brian meant that if Guy keeps doing it, many more will be asking “Who cares how much of it he writes himself?”

  3. Brian Combs

    Not exactly. There are two issues that are of greatest concern to me on this.

    1. Disclosure – I know that many don’t find it a big deal, but I’m bothered by someone claiming that words were theirs when they weren’t. He’s cleared that up, but the way he handled it initially was troubling, IMHO.

    2. Spamming – I think that way he’s using Twitter is at least very close to the line of spamming, if not over it completely. The way to handle that is to unfollow, if you don’t like it. This is what I did.

    On both of these issues, reasonable people can certainly disagree.

  4. big curt

    Turns out Guy was a tool before twitter. All he’s ever said post-Apple has been ‘Git-R-Done!’ basically. If everyone is real enthused then good things will happen.

    Not necessarily.

    Great Post Brian.

  5. John McElhenney

    “UFM,” says Guy Kawasaki in his mock self-interview. “UnFollow Me.” Ya know, I think I will do just that. (my direct response to Guy’s stupidity. (the TwitterGhost makes Guy Kawasaki GHOST Number ONE!


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