CMO JOE AND THE DM SPAM - Part 1 What would you think?

I was recently followed by a CMO of a huge corporation. Let's call him @CMOJOE. On Friday, out of the blue -- without any past contact, he DM'd me on Friday, actively promoting what I feared was a course in SEO magic...but turned out to be his book.
CMOJOE: LivePath Wow! @booktitle made TheDailyBeast-This Week's Hot Reads list, is #261 today on Amazon & #9 on "Mover &Shaker" List! http://bitlylinktobookthaticouldnotrecognize

Now, maybe it's just me, but his approach felt invasive to me.  I didn't know the guy. He'd never talked to me before. I didn't know he wrote a book.  It was a bit like the Twitter equivalent of accepting a first date and being groped on the spot. Irritated, I DM'd him back:
Livepath: Did someone hack your account, or are you actually DM Spamming me?
He didn't respond. I checked his Twitter stream and noted that I was not the only person who was irritated by the DM approach.  It doesn't seem he responded to everyone - but there was a lot of action in his tweet stream.  The responses he did send seemed a little brusque to me. Here were a few tweet "leftovers" I found:
CMOJOE: @personsname (It's) called communication - how else (to) reach you?

CMOJOE: @personsname You may call it that. I call it a DM. I sent it.

CMOJOE: @personsname on the issue... one thing i can tell u, DM's do work, big time. Some "rules" are not fully worked out, hence the comments.

In all fairness, i didn't have time to cross references his responses to the original responses. What I saw on the surface seemed, however, brusque and unapologetic. I was past really caring, and posted a single tweet on the topic without naming my offender:

Livepath:  CMO of major corporation is auto DM Spamming me about his new book. Had never engaged with me before now. UNFOLLOW!

This didn't elicit a response from CMOJOE.  However, I did hear from some other Twitter folks who put some virtual pieces together and responded to me via @ and DM.

One tweeter questioned the "ethics" of CMOJOE's action (I don't think this is an ethics issue, incidentally). Others sent me thoughts and links to articles. All were equally turned off by CMOJOE's approach.

One individual pointed me to the "I hate Auto DMs on Twitter" Facebook Fan page, pointing out that CMOJOE was, curiously, a member. While, as of this writing, he seems to have discontinued "liking" this page, he did leave a post on the Page's Wall, which clearly states

"I put the auto DM people on my definition of a twanker! Despise auto DM's!"

Another user pointed out to me a post CMOJOE authored on the blog for his (former) large corporation --railing against "twankers" whom he defines as:
"Twanker (noun) a person, organization, or company who uses bad form on or exhibits bad behavior on Twitter."
(His post included auto DM's as twankish behavior.)
Another tweeter pointed me to an early release article stating that CMOJOE had resigned his position with major corporation to pursue full-time promotion of his book, "which was becoming a full time job."

Still another tweeter sent me a link to an article in a major publication, announcing CMOJOE's intent to launch into a television career:
"The gregarious executive, 49, tells me he has been approached 'by a lot of people to do TV' and he is now hashing out the details of a show, which could be on the air by fall, if not sooner."

Another sent another major media article to me about his resignation, which reads:

"(Huge Corporation CEO) knew he planned to leave the company this year. He decided recently to accelerate his departure. He plans to leave the company May 28.... (CMOJOE) says he will keep promoting himself and his projects through social media channels."

The press helped me fit some pieces together:  His book was doing well and he's moving on quicker than expected. All the more reason to aggressively push the book. Throw in a television deal... Okay - got it.
Later on, I saw that CMOJOE had become a last minute speaker at a conference that evening, and had spent 40 minutes on the topic with a passionate audience. I didn't have time to do anything other than retroactively scan some of the tweets from that session, and I don't like to formulate opinions when I'm not present for discussion. So, to avoid relying on hearsay, potential misquotes or information presented with a lack of context, I waited for some indication of personal concern from CMOJOE.

Maybe the message was sent in poor judgment... or maybe CMOJOE is a "twanker," to use his own term. The jury was still out for me.What do you think?

I admit, that when I have wanted some input, I've pinged a few friends via DM for attention... but it's always been a selective few... and I do it in a manner I hope doesn't feel like spam...typically these are people who are trusted sounding boards, and folks I do the same for on occasion. 

What would you do if, never hearing from before, you were sent CMO Joe's tweet?  Is it right or wrong to DM self-promotional messages to your follower list?  Where do you draw the line?  Do you use "Auto Bots?"  Thoughts?  

(Note:  I decided not to identify CMOJOE for a number of reasons ... The only one I choose to share is this:  I try to treat others the way I'd like to be treated in similar circumstances.  Please use care in your comments. It's not necessary to single anyone out to have constructive dialog) 


Ksenia Coffman said...

Ha ha, I knew who you were talking about since I recognized the offending DM! I received same and frankly was taken aback by the self-promotion. Did not unfollow the person, but will do so now.

Leigh Durst said...

@Ksenia! Why not wait until part deux comes out tomorrow. Perhaps you will have a differing opinion!

Kevin Fenton said...

I vote Twanker. Yes, Twitter is a marketing tool and, as such, DMs can legitimately be used to sell what you have to offer. But to send impersonal DMs when you've not bothered to establish any sort of a relationship is to abuse the media and to misunderstand marketing. If it's aggressive enough it might work. A lot of cultural pollution does. But ultimately I think it's bad manners and bad marketing. When my novel is released, I plan on using DMs to let valued twitter contacts know about it. But I hope to have prepared the ground so that my DM is welcome.

Michael Benidt said...


Excellent post and I believe you have touched upon one of the key questions about social media - and certainly one of the least discussed. How do you point out the spammers, the sleazeballs, and the outright swindlers?

And should you?

How do you do this without piling on, with fairness, with documentation (Kitty Kelly has still never been successfully sued by any of her subjects) and with
the journalistic ethics used by the best investigative reporters?

We write regularly about the good, the bad and the ugly in the online and social media world. Mostly, we love pointing out the good things that come from Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. However, we have no problem naming these companies when we think they are invading our privacy or allowing fruitcakes and gangsters to overrun their networks.

In our blog we do identify the most egregious of the offenders by name. We are more careful, just as you seem to be, with the folks we disagree with - usually pointing to the offense, rather than the offender. We always ask to interview the person at least on the phone or via email questions - and we always ask for permission to use names (like recently when DM virus spam appeared to be sent by Twitter members, but were NOT sent by them - even though those DM messages would infect your computer).

Here's the issue and the question and the topic that we think is ignored by what we call the "Social Media Boosters." There are spammers, sleazeballs and outright swindlers - and most of us are just looking the other way. We're scared, of course, of a lawsuit. These days, we're even scared of worse than that because our private information is now public.

We're scared to name the offenders (we admit it), but Thomas Friedman of the New York Times was on Meet the Press last fall and talked to this very point. What he said then has reverberated with me since I heard it (and yes, the transcript of the entire Meet the Press discussion is available online):

"MR. FRIEDMAN: David, when everyone has a cell phone, everyone's a photographer. When everyone has access to YouTube, everyone's a filmmaker. And when everyone's a blogger, everyone's in newspaper. When everyone's a photographer, a newspaper and a filmmaker, everyone else is a public figure. Tell your kids, OK, tell your kids, OK, be careful. Every move they make is now a digital footprint. You are on "Candid Camera." And unfortunately, the real message to young people, from all of these incidents, OK, and I'm not here defending anything anyone said, but from all of these incidents, is you know, really keep yourself tight, don't say anything controversial, don't think anything--don't put anything in print. You know, whatever you do, just kind of smooth out all the edges, and maybe you too--you know, when you get nominated to be ambassador to Burkina Faso, you'll be able to get through the hearing."

The real message is don't say anything controversial, don't think anything - don't put anything in print. Ugh. It makes me shiver.

Big topic - very big topic - but we are in jeopardy by our silence and almost no one is talking about it.

I'm glad you are. Thanks.

Michael Benidt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leigh Durst said...

Wow, now you're makin' me think! Ouch!

I'm with you: I don't buy the idea of not being controversial or alienating people. (I actually commented about this in Part II). If you're a person with a brain and conviction, it will be increasingly impossible not to alienate people - and more publicly - in the future.

I believe that we should, however, as much as possible, make an effort to live at peace with people. Never at the expense of our convictions or our freedoms.

And Friedman is pointing out the creepy pressure that tells us - and our kids to shut up... go with the flow. I find this positively. chilling.

I think we need to stick to our convictions, treat people with respect and speak the truth as it is revealed to us - which does mean sometimes naming names.

In the aftermath, we need to remain humble in the consideration of others, their perspectives and experience. We can disagree - respectfully - and agree to disagree.

So, I'm not sure I'm making any real waves with these posts. Keeping it anecdotal isn't about being PC or covering my tail -- it's just an attempt to be fair minded. I am trying to treat others the way I'd like to be treated in the same situation.

Kevin Fenton said...

The way this intersects with privacy is fascinating and important and I feel like going off and thinking about it more. the questions that are rumbking in my mind are at what point does selling become spamming, how much leeway do people have because this is a frontier media with inchoate rules

Michael Benidt said...

Hi Leigh,

My bad for not being clear. Mr. Friedman was NOT suggesting that people keep their opinions close and safe. He was decrying that so many people suggest it.

The entire Meet the Press of this discussion is here -

The panelists included Tom Brokaw and ruminations on this quote by George Kennan:

"Today you cannot even do good unless you are prepared to exert your share of power, take your share of responsibility, make your share of mistakes, and assume your share of risks."

Michael Benidt said...

I posted the wrong link a little bit ago to the NBC Meet the Press last fall. Here's the right one, hopefully (you need to scroll down about 2/3rds of the way on this page to find Thomas Friedman's quoted comments above)

This panel include Tom Brokaw and the panel discussed this quote from George Kennan, among other things:

"Today you cannot even do good unless you are prepared to exert your share of power, take your share of responsibility, make your share of mistakes, and assume your share of risks."

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I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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