I just saw this post from a week ago by Andrew Goodman on Traffick asking “Is Guy Kawasaki Singlehandedly Ruining Twitter?“. Some context: Guy Kawasaki gave a keynote at the New York Search Engine Strategies conference last week in which he discussed the tactics he uses to “use Twitter as a twool“.
Of course, what galls me, at least if Goodman is reporting his speech accurately, is this:
he castigates people who don’t follow everyone back because they’re arrogant. By not “reciprocating,” non-followers are showing they “don’t care about their followers.”
Well, Kawasaki follows over 100,000 users, so he practices what he preaches. But, as Goodman points out:
The thing about Kawasaki’s follow-back habit is: it’s fake reciprocity. He isn’t actually following. Following everyone back is like the old idea of exchanging links with everyone and anyone, in the hopes of gaming Google. You don’t actually have any hope of really following 100,000 people, so instead, you hide behind TweetDeck and other apps. As Kawasaki points out, he does read all @replies and Direct Messages. But don’t believe that the “purpose of following everyone back is so people can direct message me.” The purpose is to get people used to the idea that a follow should be reciprocated with a follow. That way, folks who go out and follow 200,000 people have a greater chance of being followed by, say, 160,000.
Can you say “attention Ponzi scheme“? I sure can. I may have criticized A-list blogger Loic Le Meur in the past for suggesting that follower count implies authority, but at least he doesn’t play this fake reciprocity game–the 500 people he follows may a bit more than Dunbar recommends, but are at least within the bounds of plausbility.
According to Goodman, Kawasaki kept trying to ingratiate himself by saying “well someone out there is going to say I’m a dick for saying this, but…”. Well, Guy, I’ll be the blowhard and say it, you’re being a dick. Every Ponzi scheme has its winners, and you’ve clearly cashed in on this one. I don’t begrudge you the attention you’ve accumulated. But please have the decency not to give advice that, as Goodman puts it, would turn Twitter into a “digital trailer park”.