Jul22010

Matt McGowan is a Dumbass

A Lesson in Online Reputation Management

More and more internet users have been adopting social media, and many are discovering the backlash that could come from it.  With consumers having the ability to voice their opinions in seconds by such means as Twitter and Facebook, businesses are learning that no communication is safe.  With that said, someone who is within the industry should know better.

Matt McGowan is the Head of Incisive Media USA, which is known in the internet marketing space for its Search Engine Watch website and Search Engine Strategies conferences.

Now, as far as I know, I have never met or interacted with Matt McGowan prior to this incident, but I’m sure he is a nice guy and knows his stuff – I mean, as stupid as Search Engine Watch was for letting Danny Sullivan go, they surely wouldn’t have replaced him with a mean hack, right?

Unfortunately for Matt, I’ve been itching to start posting more and this incident piqued me enough to write about it.  It all started when Search Engine Strategies cold called me and left a voicemail, which led to this tweet:

Here is the voicemail… You seriously have to listen to the email address that they state they will be sending me more information to:

I suppose this post is the “or else”… ;)

The next day, I saw this response from Matt in my stream:

Now, I’m sure most of you are familiar with the fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. For those who aren’t, the gist of it is… there was this bored shepherd boy who kept tricking the villagers into thinking there was a wolf attacking his sheep.  When a wolf actually did  appear, the villagers did not believe the boy and left him and his flock to the wolf’s mercy.

So, to “cry wolf” basically means to raise a false alarm.

Where I’m from, most people detest telemarketers and cold calls.  So, I don’t think my tweet was unfounded… at all.  As you can see (hear), SES did indeed call me and left a voicemail, and Matt openly admitted that they have been using this practice for years.  Never did I raise a false alarm.

Obviously, Matt either is not completely familiar with the fable, or is stupid.  It was hard for me to believe that he wasn’t completely familiar with the tale, so I assumed the latter:

To this, he responded:

Okay, fair enough. I have to believe that Matt is perfectly capable of sarcasm, so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t really thanking me.  Sure, I could have left out the “No need to be a dumbass,” but that’s just how I tweet.  Plus, I can’t say it wasn’t the truth – unless Matt really is not familiar with Aesop’s fable, or was referring to some atypical use of the expression “crying wolf.”

Either way, he failed to answer my question and I’m still left to thinking he’s a dumbass.  Matt was obviously following me, so one would assume he would be familiar with my openness of tweeting harsh truths.  I’ve never followed Matt, so I didn’t realize how sensitive and incompetent he was.

Let this be a lesson in online reputation management.  For someone who is the head of a seemingly floundering conference, you would think that he would have responded to my original tweet in a much more “professional” manner, rather than falsely accusing me.  Not to mention, as this was our first interaction, this is certainly not a good way to make a first impression.

Am I overreacting?  Maybe… but, overreaction is not uncommon, especially in social media.  The bottom line is that the internet allows us a wide open forum to voice our opinions… now, more than ever.  You have to keep in mind that anything could trigger a backlash.  In this case, it was falsely implying that I was in the wrong.

Note that I didn’t even address Matt specifically in the first place.  Even the @SESConf account, to which I originally tweeted at, came up with a better (albeit self-promotional) response:

I would have been fine with just that response, and this post would never have been written.  Even if Matt messaged me privately, I would have responded in kind.

Instead, ironically, Matt is the one who cried wolf about me crying wolf.

Moral: Don’t be a dumbass.

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