The Day My Idols Disappointed Me Social Media Style: Chris Brogan & Christopher Penn


They say never meet your heroes. Apparently, you should never tweet them either. Today @cspenn (Christopher S Penn) started following my Twitter account (@Pose83). Christopher Penn is one of the guys that makes the Marketing Over Coffee podcast. This is the podcast I’ve listened to most consistently over the last 3 years. It about Marketing, largely Digital Marketing and I crib elements of it frequently to use at work.

Last week @ChrisBrogan had tweeted me a response after I’d tweeted about him at the Social Media World Forum (SMWF). Chris is an author in Digital Marketing, specifically Social Media. I haven’t read much of his work, but I know how influential he is in his field.

Brogan was a definite ‘get’ for the SMWF and a lot of people showed up to hear him talk. I liked him, he was personable, but for someone who’d just written a book on Google Plus, he pretty much ignored that channel and told amusing little anedotes instead. He made a few points, not all of which I’d agreed with, but that’s OK. I hoped Chris was the kind of Marketer that wouldn’t be offended by people challenging his ideas.

So today I tweeted this:

Last wk @ChrisBrogan tweeted me, this wk @cspenn follows me! Life is good! As is http://www.marketingovercoffee.com/ #kissass

To which I got this response from Chris Brogan

@pose83 – aim higher. Get someone like @glendawh to follow you!

I didn’t expect a response from him. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a sarcastic joke, a jibe at Christopher Penn, who he may be friends with or if he was just being rude. You would hope, as a supposed Social Media guru, he would have been aware how words can become misinterpreted and have been a little clearer in making himself understood.

@Glendawh appears to be a woman who is working to improve online accessibility. That’s fine and dandy, but I don’t know who she is. Just because you’re Chris Brogan, don’t tell me who I should be impressed by, who I should follow or who I should care about! I’m a loyal listener of Marketing Over Coffee because I like what they do, week in, week out. I find it valuable.

Naturally I had to respond. No longer was I in awe of Chris Brogan (as I had been last week; you’ll have to wait for my SMWF post to find out about that), I wanted to construct a slightly miffed response.

@chrisbrogan Happy with my aim, ta! @cspenn is in my ears every wk. Will check out @GlendaWH though!

Thought I’d better chuck that bit in about Glenda though she’s pretty irrelevant to the work I do.

Christopher Penn threw in his 2 cents aswell:

@Pose83 @chrisbrogan Or even better, do something amazing with what you’re learning. Cheers for listening, though.

This kind of bugs me too. Is this a dig? I’m hoping not. I really do like Mr Penn, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here.

I’m still pretty riled by Chris Brogan because he seems to have misunderstood some Social Media fundamentals.

  1. Communicate in a manner to avoid misinterpretation
  2. Social Media allows everyone to broadcast a message and therefore people can rise to popularity within certain niches (as an aside, it drives me nuts how they pronounce ‘niche’ on MOC) – i.e. I get that not everyone cares if CSPenn is following them or not, but I do.
  3. Know your audience – honestly and with no offense intended, I couldn’t care less who Glenda is. If she was important and influential regarding things I’m interested in, I’d have already had her on my radar.

My tweet was not intended to brag or annoy anyone. It just made me a little excited to discover who my new follower was. I ended up feeling frustrated and patronised.

I’ve never quite gotten round to buying a Chris Brogan book. I think I may always find something more useful to spend my money on now.

Furthermore, I’m not sure if he’s such a Social Media expert as a Social Media addict. I’m sure I’d have a whole lot more followers if I’d tweeted almost 100k times!

I’m not looking for a response from anyone mentioned in this post and I’m pretty sure it’s inconsequential to these people what I think, I just needed to have a little rant.

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  • Christopher S. Penn April 4, 2012, 8:48 pm

    Nope, it’s not a dig. It’s an urging that you take what we share on the podcast and do something amazing with it. There are way too many people who just mindlessly hit retweet and move on to the next thing that crosses their plate.

    One of my teachers says that knowledge + experience = wisdom. There’s no shortage of knowledge being shared all over the social media world, but not enough putting it into practice to achieve that sense of wisdom.

    That’s what I sincerely hope for everyone who tunes in. It’s like collecting swords. Great if you want to have a collection of swords, but I’d rather you DO something with them, learn to cut with one, be able to strike someone down in defense if needed.

    Do amazing things. Then come back and share, and we’ll both be the richer for it.

    • Jo Darby April 15, 2012, 2:54 pm

      Thanks for your response. As a Social Media Manager I do try to come up with innovative ways to engage with customers and prospects, but working in a big organisation it’s not always possible to enact these ideas, which need to co-ordinate with the overall Marketing calendar. I don’t think I fall in to the category of mindless retweeter, but at the same time I find some of the best articles from people on Twitter that have shared URLs.

      I do agree with you though. There are a lot of suppposed Social Media / Marketing professionals that just retweet quotes without critiquing or questioning them as I learned at a recent Social Media forum and I found this disappointing.

      • Christopher S. Penn May 2, 2012, 11:07 am

        I sympathize as I’ve worked for people and clients who somehow believe that you can plan out discussions with other human beings 90 days in advance.

        However, there still exists some interesting possibilities that you could wire up, perhaps at RAC. For example, if you were able to gather the social IDs of your paying customers for breakdown service and then monitor them with your standard social media services for mentions of auto trouble, you could theoretically intercept issues they’re having before they call in. It’ll either delight them or scare the hell out of them!

        • Jo Darby May 8, 2012, 12:08 am

          You’ve done your research, that’s brilliant! Trust me, I’m working on ways to use Social Media to improve customer experience, but it all takes time. However, I’m happy to report that RAC seem to have the culture to support innovation and the capacity to move faster than some of the companies I worked for previously.

  • Chris Brogan... April 5, 2012, 4:41 am

    Hilarious. My intention was the exact opposite:

    1.) It’s not that amazing to get a tweet from me. I’m just a regular guy.
    2.) Glenda is a superhero and much more interesting to me. Why? Because she’s making the world better for differently abled people.

    My point is that the weird “heroes” of social media are just nerdy doofuses. The REAL heroes are people like Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal) who feeds the homeless while the rest of the world tries to decide what’s right for them.

    Sorry to offend.

    • Jo Darby April 15, 2012, 3:06 pm

      I really do appreciate you taking the time to respond, but
      1) I don’t really believe you can make a living from touring the world talking to people about Social Media Marketing if you’re not an expert in it, which is why I admire you and Christopher Penn.
      2) Whilst I agree with what Glenda is trying to achieve and it’s fantastic, it’s not the area I work in or am trying to learn more about at this point in time.
      3) Can’t you just accept my comment as the compliment it was supposed to be, rather than countering in with defensive self-deprication?

      That’s all.