Back to Social Media Bacak’s (Basics)

I really wasn’t prepared to do another blog so soon but a situation happened this morning that changed my mind. This morning we were shown how social media in the wrong hands can create a backlash go viral and destroy a reputation.

The unfortunate target of discussion is a man named Matt Bacak (@mattbacak on twitter). I don’t know Matt. In fact all I know is what his bio says “Husband, Dad, Internet Marketer and Entrepreneur”. This guy could be a perfectly nice guy. The only problem is he released this. It’s a press release where he states “Anyone can call their promotional abilities ‘powerful’ but I actually prove that mine are,”. The problem is that this type of ego really contradicts the the overall social media mentality which is basically “It’s not about you, it’s about the overall community”.

The backlash that I mentioned earlier is shown here. Hundreds of comments naming him as “The Biggest Douche In Social Media”. I know, you all want that title 🙂 He has even been featured on Digg with this title (Matt Bacak on Digg) and at the time of this post has 197 Diggs. At this point it has gone viral and there isn’t much he can do about it.

I feel bad for Matt but this is what happens when you enter social media with a traditional marketing stance. Social media followers need to feel special and not like numbers. When someone goes and states that they are more powerful than everyone else due to their excessive follower numbers their followers end up feeling more like a stepping stone than a part of the bigger picture. It also didn’t help that Matt was only following back 32 people of the 1800 that followed him.

Let me know what you think of this situation. Do you think this punishment was warranted? or was it too harsh? How would you deal with a situation like this if you were Matt?

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90 Responses to “Back to Social Media Bacak’s (Basics)”

  1. I think there are two main problems here – Matt’s quotes and the release itself.

    I’m assuming Matt used the Twitter Grader tool to garner his “popularity ratings” – yet from my understanding, this tool is just a bit of fun to show you how you rate by Tweets, followers, how your followers rate, etc. So, no real authority there.

    Secondly, Matt’s PR team should have checked the claims and how they were being made, and how this stood Matt in social media terms. If they had done that, they might have realized that while these claims are great from an internet marketing point of view, they don’t wash too well with social media types.

    Something Matt is about to find out, sadly.

  2. Like you said “It’s not about you, it’s about the overall community” but even with negative publicity he will still come out on top!

  3. Thanks for the post.

    Personally, I tend to think SM is all about everyone else and not about me at all. I’m just a player, not the captain. As a result, I like to sit back and learn from everyone else (and this is a pretty good lesson!) and if I’m lucky, I’ll have something of value to contribute from time to time as well.

    Who knows what will become of Mr. Bacak. I can be sure of this, though, he would not be on my list of contacts when looking for people to help me promote my business or cause. It’s pretty clear that his primary interest is seeing his own name up in lights and that doesn’t meet our requirements for a promoter.

    Peace and Blessings,

    -Kenny

  4. 227 Diggs isn’t much. I think his reputation is safe considering most people have still never heard of him. I hadn’t until i came across this.

  5. I really hope I never find myself in his situation, but I think it was deserved in Matt’s case. Personally, it bothers me when people go so far as to say “I’m a social media expert.” Maybe I don’t like the title of “expert” in general, but I find it hard to believe that someone can have expertise in a realm that is constantly evolving. There are always brand new, unique, awesome ways to use social media tools. To claim that you know all of the best and most effective ways of using it seems ridiculous to me.

  6. Even if we were to use Twitter Grader as a serious tool to measure influence, his data is still very flawed.

    Here’s his trick… @mattbacak is #3 on Twitter Grader if you use “Atlanta, GA”…which is SEPARATE from “Atlanta”, “Alanta Georgia”, etc. Twitter Grader isn’t yet able to differentiate the many ways a Twitter location can be listed, so he simply takes advantage of that.

    Here’s another great tidbit:

    @mattbacak’s score: 99.9
    @sockington’s score: 100.0

    That’s right…HE’S BEING OUTSCORED BY A CAT! Hee.

  7. This basically shows how bad PR and marketing in the SM world can ‘get you the attention,’ but not exactly in the way you wanted it. It’s the Motrin online ad all over again. Live and Learn. But I agree with Kenny…I would not hire this guy to promote anything for me.

  8. While Matt Bacak is thinking in old media terms, new media approaches will bite him pretty hard. I am awaiting to see the Search Engine impact on his personal brand after the bloggers start to weigh in on his press release and the aftermath. Ask Motrin about the potential impact of negative conversations on social media.

    It is the quality of the conversation not the number of followers that determine your impact in this space.

    We’ll see what happens next! I think this is the tip of the iceberg.

  9. Jon Mierow Says:

    Its easy to forget that we’re still at the beginning of the ‘social media’ craze. While more and more people are getting use to the term, there is still no clear definition of what it is.

    I tend to agree with most, this guy got what he deserves. Only because in working with people today (especially online) you have to remove your own arrogance from the equation if you want to truly succeed. With the resources that we now have at our fingertips, people are going to find out things like if you skewed your numbers in your favor, or if you really have a signal or are just making noise.

    I hope that Matt (and others like him) learn from this and are able to come back strong and really help the larger social media community.

  10. I feel bad for the guy, but let this be a lesson (dare I say “case study”) of exactly what NOT to do in the social media arena.

    With the ridiculous epidemic of self-professed “social media experts” getting completely out of control, it was just a matter of time before some clueless egomaniac crashed and burned in front of millions of internet users.

    I can’t help but shake my head at this silly person’s spectacular snafu. Now that he’s become a punchline, I can’t help but use his example in my conversations with clients (filed under: do the exact opposite of what this guy did, and you’ll do great).

    Who knew someone could bleed this much on Twitter. Wow.

  11. Scott,
    This guy is hilarious. I hope some day I can be as cool as Matt. If traditional methods are applied to this fancy “new” social media, will it turn mainstream users away? How many of your followers are spam? How many of Matt’s followers are spam? The value doesn’t come from the crowd that you claim to have, the value comes from the trust you earn. This guy hasn’t earned any trust and therefore by claiming his royal status the people slammed him. However, it is funny to see that he’s not trending on Twitter nor is his release a top url. That’s got to be rough for someone “at the top of Twitter”.

  12. Matt gives PR and SM a bad name. His ridicule is totally warranted. I have several points to make.

    1. How can he make any claims on twitter when he ONLY has 1,800 followers, only follows 32 and has fewer than 1,600 tweets? BTW, I do around 1,200 tweets a MONTH, not bragging, just fact that I talk a lot and for comparison.

    2. Who puts out a press release about their status on twitter? Who cares? If you’re not on twitter, it won’t make any sense.What kind of ego-maniac is he?

    3. Any press if good press is not always applicable and this is one of those cases. If Matt were to begin using twitter as a communications tool, how many of us would engage him at this point?

    4. I’m here (the twitterverse) because of y’all, the tweeps; I would never have met or conversed with any of you if it wasn’t for twitter. Its not about me; its about you, how I can add to the conversation and bring value to the connections I’ve made.

    5. Matt just doesn’t get it.

  13. Considering the balance of everything on Twitter and elsewhere, I’ve read much worse than what he wrote. And for me, “worse” means salacious commentary that is inappropriate. I’ve not lived a sheltered life by any means but good judgement seems to have little importance in social media.

    The comment you referenced from Matt – I wouldn’t have batted an eye over it. I’d have dismissed it (scrolled past) as fast as seeing someone run on and on about their hoped-for sexual encounter later that evening.

    Someone once told me “if you do too many Tweets about sports, you’ll have non-sports-fan followers drop you.” And what – I’m going to lose sleep over this? While I see the incredible value of social media, I also view it like a caller on a radio talk show: Take him/her and their comment at arm’s length.

  14. Nothing like a self-promoter gaming the system for his own benefit. But then I guess that’s why he was called “The Biggest Douche in Social Media”. I strongly agree with your point about social media being about the community, not the ego.

    Well done and Well said!

  15. […] In Mark Bacek’s press release he claims; “Anyone can call their promotional abilities ‘powerful’ but I actually prove that mine are,” The problem is that this type of ego really contradicts the overall social media mentality which is basically “It’s not about you, it’s about the overall community” (as pointed out in Scott Baird’s (@mediapirate) blogpost here). […]

  16. Also check out @warrenss from twitters posting on the same topic – The Invisible Twitter Man: http://twittermaven.blogspot.com/2008/12/invisible-twitter-man.html

  17. I believe that Matt’s a sad example of Marketers that believe that Social Media is just another bullhorn where they can blast out their message in interruption format. This guy’s website screams INFOMERCIAL. I also blogged about this in my post on What Happens When Social Media Goes Terribly Wrong? The Bacak Truth! http://abovethebuzz.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/what-happens-when-social-media-goes-terribly-wrong-the-bacak-truth/

    I hope he at least has some good bacon!

  18. Scott Stamper Says:

    I know Matt, he’s one of the nicest guys in Internet Marketing.

    When he say’s he can prove his abilites, it’s not bragging. It’s only bragging if you can’t back it up. He lives near me in a gated country club with people like Jeff Foxworthy and Michael Vick (Vick’s house if up for sale for $4 million if anyone wants it.)

    The fact that he has 1,800 followers on Twitter shows that he knows how to get followers.

    When American Airlines bumped my flight to Austin (for a convention we were both going to) Matt offered to let me fly with him in his private plane. The last time I saw him, we spent most of our time talking about our kids, then a big group of us went the Waffle House (it was 2:00am) and Matt picked up everyone’s check. I could go on and on… Just a heck of a nice guy.

    Matt has been extremely successful in online marketing. When ever anyone reaches a level of success like Matt, there will be people gunning for them.

    I find it interesting that blogs (like this one) bash people based on blogs and tweets because someone else has bashed them. I really didn’t see any investigation into who Matt is or was Matt telling the truth in his statements.

  19. In reply to Scott Stamper comments:

    To be honest I never said that he was a bad guy at all. In fact I believe I even stated I didn’t know him at all. What we are discussing here is how he utilized social media and the reactions that people have had in response to his use of social media.

    I am very happy that he is wealthy, living near celebrities and treating people to waffles but none of that is the point. The point is that his lack of experience in social media ended up in retaliation. All I am asking everyone is if they think he deserved the criticism that he has gotten or not. I am 100% for hearing your opinion on my blog but I never bashed him here based on things that I just “heard”. I brought up valid points in his miss-use of social media based on “his” press release.

    He may be a very nice person and you seem to be a good friend but his choice to put out the release was misguided.

  20. @ Scott Stamper. Firstly, congratulations on backing your friend up – that’s what good friends should do, and I applaud you for it.

    I would agree with MediaPirate in that this was never about the qualities of Matt as a person (although like most successful Internet marketers his self-belief is obviously high). This was about completely misunderstanding social media whilst bragging how successful he has been in the medium. That kind of contradiction will get anybody found out and most likely ridiculed for it (deserved or not).

    If Matt or his PR team had realized what they were saying was affiliate marketing hyperbole trying to be used in an arena where such talk isn’t used, then maybe he could have avoided all this in the first place.

    Of course, if Matt is as successful as you and he says, then the reputation damage (as far as social media goes) won’t really matter. Will it?

  21. Or…is he a genius? Because we’re ALL talking about him. And linking to him. And essentially giving him what he thought we had.

    It’s ‘Paris Hilton’-type celebrity, but it’s still celebrity, and it’ll still make him money somehow, probably.

  22. […] As you would expect, the Twitterverse has not been kind. Scott Baird, describes the reaction in his blog, Matt’s press release states “Anyone can call their promotional abilities ‘powerful’ but I […]

  23. Kudos for living in a gated community for Matt, but, I agree that MediaPirate’s post wasn’t an attack on character, rather a commentary on methods. After reading the blog and the comments, two things come to mind–Sarah Palin and MotrinMoms.

    First, I thought of Sarah Palin-esque nature of the situation because of the total lack of knowledge and preparedness for the space in which he is trying to operate. Then I thought MotrinMoms because of the total misuse of social media to stir up a whole lot of hullabaloo over nothing.

  24. His website screams old-school push marketing, and his tweet today says that he is hanging out with Dan Kennedy at an event today. Nuff said to some. We’ll maybe not enough. I’m sure he is a nice guy, and probably very successful, and his message went out to a broader audience that just twitter, so I may work for him. I am purposely not using his name or link to website, so I do not add to his potential links to his site etc.

    A couple of points
    1) His second Social Media faux pas was in sending out a release like that and not monitoring the social media response. (granted he is at a conference today). That’s the same mistake Motrin made with Youtube moms ad (12+ hours during they daytime before a response).

    If it happens to you, if/when you make your first Social Media fax pas (it’s a new playing field/learning experience for all of us – some just have more time in the game), take care how you respond, or you can make is worse, not better. Benefit of the doubt…He may not have known just how Twittergrader creates it’s algorithm. Still ballsy to toot your own horn that way.

    2) I’ve noticed a trend from many who come from older-school info marketing game, (which shows thru on his website design/content, and his lack of following people on Twitter), my guess is that he brought many of his followers over from his 5,000 Facebook network to Twitter. i.e. he extended his brand to a new network, and grew it initially by inviting his existing newtork over to join him on twitter (I’m guessing here), without growing his numbers/influence as much or as fast as it might seem(nor by just using the techniques he will charge you for) . Just a thought.

    3) BTW he is up to 1951 followers now., so while many seem to think this has hurt his brand, others seem to think not.

    For more on convo see twittermaven’s blog post (not mine, though I commented there as well)
    http://twittermaven.blogspot.com/2008/12/invisible-twitter-man.html
    to some

  25. […] in the social media sphere was rapid and negative. Plenty of people have piled on including Scott Baird, Warren Sukernek, Chris Lower and Tris Hussey. The release has garnered over 310 votes under the […]

  26. I think that negative PR can be turned into something great if handled properly. If he runs with his tail between his legs from social media then his name will forever, well at least for a little while until he’s forgotten, be blemished on the social media horizon. If he really is amazing at marketing and can don wonderful things then prove it. Matt has to make hay while the light is shining on him. I think although an up hill battle he is faced with an opportunity with great potential. Just think, if he does turn it around he’ll be the story that made a huge OOOPS on the interwebs and cleaned it up. Stories like that really get some good traction. GOOD LUCK MATT! Hope you do something positive with the negative situation.

  27. I’ll say what no one else will.

    Matt might be a nice guy, but he is attempting to sell his “expertise” in Social Media Marketing to businesses that don’t know any better.

    If he thinks his Twitter Dominance is so great based on a Twitter Grader score that can easily be gamed, then he is too foolish to consult for anyone.

    If he knows that his Twitter Dominance is so great based on a Twitter Grader score that can easily be gamed, then he is too evil to consult for anyone.

    Ignorance might be the better defense.

    I addressed this twice: http://tinyurl.com/5v3jsh and http://tinyurl.com/5ptf2r

  28. justsayin Says:

    He’s an internet marketer that’s been saying he is quitting because of a bleeding ulcer for years now. He wants to “pass the torch” and for only a couple grand you can be the torch-bearer. That was the old schtick anyway (I didn’t buy then. Or now.)

    He used to sell his expertise in Internet marketing. Now he sells his expertise in social media.

    Snake. Oil.

  29. I kind of feel bad for him. I still have never heard of him, but good or bad press I don’t think any less of him. In fact I think I might start following him on twitter. It does seem a tad boastful what he said in his press release, but it’s not the end of the world. Life goes on, live and learn, every one deserves second chances. Sides the power of twitter is just peoples opinions and sometimes the over-opinionated are the first to speak up and over power the truth. I’ve seen this first hand multiple times. Also, it’s not like he was crying and begging the world to leave Britney speares alone or dancing in skin tight golden pants, so I’m pretty sure his dignity is still in tact. 🙂

  30. Wow! I just caught wind of what is going on because I’ve been
    teaching a 2 day training. I’m sooooo amazed by this. I can not
    believe the way many twitters and bloggers behaved.

    I barely even knew about this press release. I did not write it
    nor did I even submit it. Yes, I did suggest to have it written. I
    take full responiblily for it. My team and I are always looking
    for reasons to write Press releases and when someone showed me
    twitter.grader.com I was excited with the results so I told my PR
    writer about it. I felt proud to be a part of the twitter
    community and very excited to understand it more.

    I will say after reading the press release, it was over the top.

    I never suggested to my writer to have it even say that I am a
    twitter god or an expert in social media or to challenge anyone because I’m not. I am new to social media (as you can tell) and have a lot to learn. But, I am very good internet marketer and email marketer. I have over 300k subscribers to my online newsletter. That’s exactly what I teach my clients (email marketing and direct response marketing).

    This new social media world is very interesting.

    A simple phone call or email with suggestions with how to rephrase
    it would have been enough. Which, I personally never received.

    I just jumped out of the training to post this – got to get back in now.

    I have learned alot from this already.

  31. To me, what’s disturbing about the press release is that it’s written in such a self-congratulatory manner. It’s almost as though a newspaper or a magazine is doing a story on him – for accomplishing some incredible feat. It’s off-putting because the tone of the press release is so out of proportion to the actual accomplishment. (Had he climbed Mount Everest after having both legs amputated, I’d be more open to the “Matt is so amazing” tone, but not for this.)

    As of right now, the link to Matt’s press release on Digg has over 300 diggs – so it will probably make the front page. I feel pretty bad for him as well, since he’s probably going to get quite a backlash from this. In my opinion, he simply didn’t realize how arrogant something like that would sound to the social media crowd. It’s a mistake a lot of traditional marketers make.

    But the fact is, social media needs to be handled with care. If you’re arrogant or carelessly insulting, you will get a backlash.

    If I were Matt, I’d take the press release down asap. if I couldn’t do that, I’d issue an apology and an explanation of the motivation behind it. I’d also follow a lot more people on Twitter so people would stop criticizing that about me.

    But at this point, there’s not much he can do. Mostly just as much damage control as possible, and then to just hope it blows over soon (and doesn’t register in the google results for his name.)

    The key with social media is to just avoid this sort of situation by being humble and being part of the conversation. It’s not about the numbers – it’s about the quality of the discussions you’re having online.

  32. In reply to Matt Bacak Comments:

    While I don’t agree with Matt’s press release I can honestly say that’s a pretty good response. The fact that he responded at all shows at least some form of credibility.

    Matt, thank you very much for sharing your side and not backing down!

  33. Well, I think the first thing he has to do is, learn to spell. A lot is two words 🙂

    Can we take him at his word? If we can, then his response is genuine, and things should die down. However, if he’s CYA’ing, then this may add fuel to the fire. At this point, we should give him the benefit of the doubt, but at the same time, he needs to release a retraction press release, and fire his copywriter. And again, we have only his word that he didn’t write the copy himself, or ask it to be written, and then approved by himself. Still more questions, if you ask me.

    And you did 🙂

  34. I agree that it’s a good response from him. By admitting that he has a lot to learn, and also that he didn’t ask for the press release to be written in that fashion (and agrees it was over the top), he loses a lot of the “arrogance” he appeared to have when it looked like he wrote it himself.

    Of course, no one is going to call or email him to say something is over the top, but I’m sure he’ll review press releases before they go live now.

    And of course, in his defense, issuing a lot of press releases is a legitimate online marketing strategy. So, it made sense that he thought this was something to write about.

  35. My simple question to Matt Bacak… how will you change to reflect these new “insights” on social media to act differently?

    Until then, it is just trying to quiet the crowd vs. participate in the conversation.

  36. I don’t know about that response. I feel like if someone were writing a press release about me, I’d at least like to check it out before its thrown to the masses.? Then again, I am not a super famous expert celebrity internet marketer…

  37. Fair play to him for replying even if he ‘can not believe the way many twitters and bloggers behaved’.

    Without wanting to sound too OTT – Matt, social media is a community. Don’t expect your old-school mailshot marketing approach to work here. It’s all about the conversation, not shouting at people.

  38. The “friend” of Matt’s comments is pulled almost word for word from many of the other sites that have challenged Matt’s work. I find it humorous that the same friend jumps to defense on all these sites- using almost the exact same story. Makes a red flag go up in my mind. And even Matt’s response is self-serving- I am running training, I didn’t write the piece, with only a token piece of responsibility taken. Not impressed- not impressed at all.
    On top of that- he still doesn’t understand the media or his “following” numbers would’ve jumped. This is supposed to be participatory- not 100% “look at me”.
    As far as I can tell, he is just standing on a soap box thumping his chest yelling his own name. I picture a used car sales guy sauntering across the parking lot. Accurate or not- I have never met the guy, but perception is everything around here. There are many, many, many other people worth following on Twitter and other sites, he has officially been “blocked” from my radar. And most people worth following have more than a self-serving press release to stand behind.

  39. And THIS is why getting caught up in Personal Brand is so damned dangerous.

    At some point, you have to outsource.

  40. […] supporters are speaking up, and he has come out of seclusion (he’s been teaching a class) to respond to at least one blogger (Media Pirate–you’ve got to scroll down a LOT to find hi…. Here’s an excerpt: I never suggested to my writer to have it even say that I am a twitter […]

  41. So I guess the “real” question is “Is this really Matt Bacak?” So, if you are listening Matt we would really appreciate hearing from you. All I have to say is that if Matt is truly outsourcing crisis management people then he is COMPLETELY missing the point of social media. So, I guess I’m just hoping that he was the one that had enough guts to come forward.

  42. I’m not saying he is outsourcing his “crisis management.”

    It’s fairly obvious that he outsourced his marketing efforts. No WAY would a news release ABOUT ME would hit distribution without me signing off.

  43. In reply to Ike & Alyx Comments:

    Sorry Ike I wasn’t commenting on your comment. I was more responding to Alyx’s comment that he has friends doing crisis management and that it might not have been the real Matt who posted here at all. I definitely see your point though. It’s very dangerous to have your brand associated with your name when it’s too big for you to control yourself.

  44. His comments above are in conflict with the press release he issued. And quite frankly, anyone who has been legitimately involved in marketing in any way would never let a press release go out without the principle focus of that release having read and approved it.

    However, I really wonder if this was not some calculated move just to get people talking about him.

  45. i definitely appreciate the response from matt.

    i just really wish people knew who matt was & what he’s accomplished and how much of a contribution this guy makes out in the community.

    social media is now like TV media…

    just looking for someone to fail, someone to slip up, someone to do something embarrassing… just to write an article for traffic.

    i guess it’s entertaining.

  46. I don’t think anyone is looking for someone to fail (re to Alejandro). The point of most of this discussion (and many others happening) is the way Matt presented himself. I think if we want someone to fail at this social media thing there are other targets that would make a much more spectacular burnout (Scoble and Arrington come to mind). The difference with them however is that even though Scoble and Arrington may be self-promoters on Twitter some of the time, they bring some value and don’t need to thump their chests. Their large following flowed pretty organic and they participate.

    I also think it is much worse -as mediapirate points out- that he has completely lost track of “his brand” if he didn’t know the PR was being put out. More respect gone. How can you trust “The powerful Promoter” if he doesn’t control his own promotions?

  47. You don’t have to be a veteran of social media to realize that a self-aggrandizing press release like that is ridiculous in any context. Had the release been about Matt’s stellar email marketing skills, it would still be terribly misguided. If it’s your team, Matt, that wrote this, they could use a lesson or two on what a press release is designed to do in the first place.

  48. Mediapirate, Katie and others. On Matt’s reply that he didn’t submit it, he barely knew about it, and my team. The person who submitted the article on Digg a Stephanie Bunn (if I remember correctly) is his wife, just Google Stephanie Bunn Bacack and it is the first result. To me that is just as bad as him sending it himself.

    Cathy

  49. I also know Matt personally, and he’s a great guy who is VERY genuine.

    He’s an uber-successful internet marketer, and anyone interested in direct response marketing or email marketing can learn a TON from him.

    However, he’s also human, and he’s running a big show there. Thigns get mismanaged – at least he’s not going to congress looking for a $25 billion bailout, eh? He’s trying things that are new to him, like social media, and trying to get a good feel for what the best way is to use them.

    So, instead of drooling at the prospect of being able to punce and make an example of Matt (which won’t work, and you know it) why not talk positively about what he’s done (do you know what any of his sites or products are?) and give him some CONSTRUCTIVE criticism about how you think he should be using Social Media.

    That said, who are you to judge how someone else runs their business, or manages their online presence? He’s obviously doing some things right, because he’s a very wealthy man. Perhaps his social media marketing methods are making him more money than you care to realize?

    THINK about things before you get all fired up. There may be more to this all than you realize, and if there is, my hat goes off to Matt and his crew.

    @Amber – A press release is designed to get you press. Period. Good or bad, it can all be translated into profits. My guess is that Matt’s sales went up since this whole thing started – IE: The press release was successful.

  50. In reply to jdevelvis Comments:

    My response again would be that no one is calling Matt’s character into question. Just his use of social media. Which if he had understood better he would have seen this coming. If his goal was to stir up a negative frenzy in the social media world with this press release then he is ultimately successful. However, I hope that’s not the case as driving negative publicity for your own benefit is truly a sign of a weak marketer. I hope it’s just as he had mentioned. A bad mistake caused by inexperience in this medium.

    My constructive advise for Matt would be to join us and be a part of our community to properly learn how to use it. Social media is a living breathing thing and this is the only way to really get it.

  51. I have to agree with JDevelvis (above). I don’t care who you are, if you’re doing stuff online (or off) you’re going to screw up. Sometimes more than you’d like. The interesting thing about the new Web, is that your mistakes become global in seconds.

    Matt is a very bright guy and an assertive marketer. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with him by telephone and, although he has a pretty big ego, warranted or otherwise, he knows what he’s talking about.

    The ego settles down with age and some bruising:-)

    Overall, I think he really cares about people and really wants to help. We can all learn to take ourselves a little (lot) less seriously.

    It always amazes me how many people are just sitting waiting for a successful person to make a mistake so they can pounce on them like a cat after a mouse.

    What they don’t get is that every time one criticizes a successful person, they push away their own success. It’s how society tries to keep us all down. If you doubt that, watch the news go after a wealthy person.

    They rarely mention the people who are using their wealth for good. BTW- from what I understand, Matt is one of those people who steps up to help those in need.

  52. mediapirate: “A bad mistake caused by inexperience in this medium.”

    I have discovered that “yes” this is a totally different world over here after seeing all of this and would to learn how to use it properly.

    Got a question: I have a strategy that I use for all my companies. I called it the “A9” process. I’d love to share it with and get your feedback.

    The strategy includes PR, Atricles and other methods. We submit 2-3 press releases a day using it driving people to my opt in pages to build my list. That’s the game I’m good at but I’m always open to constructive criticism.

    I have a whole team that handles this stuff for me and all my accounts.

    Here is the strategy:

    http://knol.google.com/k/matt-bacak/slap-google-like-a-rag-doll/

    Like I said in my ealier post. I’ve learned alot from this experience and am very open to learn for those of you that are doing well in social media because I’m still a rookie here and I’m very open to share about what I’m personally good at.

  53. I haven’t followed every breadcrumb of this story (if it even is a story) but from the scatterings I’m aware, why is everyone focusing on the press release (which should be fact-checked before printed, though Matt’s earlier response indicates contrary) and not on the 1800 followers?

    If I see someone who is following 32 and is followed by 1800, regardless of content, I question who are those 1800. If the content is worthy enough, social proof will find it retweeted. Until the other day, I never saw a retweet via Matt, so I ask again, why not focus on the 1800?

  54. @jdevelvis

    Please. I am certain Matt is a nice man, and a genuine friend.

    FACT: A news release touted his skill in social media.

    FACT: Matt has since admitted that he doesn’t know very much about it.

    FACT: The news release that went out was not designed to sell his regular marketing services to businesses.

    FACT: There is a large enough pool of businesses out there that know even less about social media than Matt.

    FACT: That release, with its SEO optimized tags, will likely provide enough leads that Matt will still profit nicely.

    FACT: Even if all the businesses who hire him to promote their brand through social media turn dismal results.

    If Matt indeed makes money selling a service that he understands very little about, that is not in and of itself a validation. The ends do not justify the means. Ever. Ever.

    Who am *I* to judge? I am a communicator who thinks logically and stands by his words. *Who* I am does not matter. That is a nice ad hominem argument you are sowing there. (anyone who doesn’t share Matt’s level of internet marketing success needs not criticize.)

    And speaking of standing by my words, I will still stand by these: What Matt (or his team) did was either shady, irresponsible, or ill-informed.

    That said — there are hundreds of us out here who would be more than happy to help him navigate these murky waters. A few of us have swallowed more than a mouthful of the brackish brew to know what it’s like. Tell Matt that we’re listening, and willing to help.

  55. I think it’s unprofessional and hints at a lack of integrity for Matt Bacak to lay blame entirely on his PR witer (who is his wife, yes?). I also totally agree with Media Pirate, this PR release seems to be the antithesis of social media’s philosophy – it’s not about numbers, it’s about engagement, conversations and listening to others.

    I can imagine that Matt must be feeling pretty rotten right about now. At the end of the day it’s the power of social media that has seen this incident blow right up.

  56. So to sum up what I heard from jdevelvis. Any publicity is good publicity. If that isn’t old media mentality than I don’t know what is. It also proves the point that has been stated over and over that Matt and friends have missed the whole point of social media sites Twitter.

    Please make no mistake- I have not at any point attacked Matt as a person. I have stated as have others the particular perception this whole thing caused. Facts are this: Poorly worded PR released saying basically how great Matt was on Twitter, Twitter folks saw it and called it out, folks began to discuss, Matt’s defense was basically I didn’t do it myself, people continue to point out the folly of that line of thought especially from someone who self identifies as the “Powerful Promoter”, some came along using the only defense as “leave him alone”, more discussion

    jdevelvis\Matt et. al.- look through the posts (here and other places) you are getting constructive criticism. Mediapirate hits it quite soundly on the head in his last post. Oh and I love how this has made it to your Twitter stream, mattbacak. Again missing the boat.

  57. In reply to Jim Donovan Comments:

    Good comment I appreciate your defense of Matt. The only comment I have to it is that no one was waiting to pownce on him because he is successful. They commented on him because they felt it was in bad taste. It wouldn’t matter if it was anyone else.

    In reply to Matt Bacak Comments:

    Like I had mentioned previously the way to really understand what you are doing in this environment is by spending time in it. I would recommend chatting with people on twitter and following more than just a handful. This way you can be involved with the two way conversation.

    My other comment is please don’t post marketing links or materials on my blog. I let it through this time but this is not the environment to showcase your materials. Next time I won’t publish the comment. Sorry.

    In reply to Ari Herzog Comments:

    The reason that we don’t focus on the 1800 or the twitter grader elite results are three-fold.

    First off the entire issue was how Matt’s press release doen’t work with the mentality of social media.

    The second being that 1800 isn’t very many people and getting on the twitter elite isn’t difficult either.

    The third reason is that it doesn’t matter how many people you follow. It’s about conversation and if you aren’t going to participate then you miss the point completely.

  58. jdevelvis —

    you said “Perhaps his social media marketing methods are making him more money than you care to realize?”

    something tells me that’s probably not the case 😉

  59. My first reaction to this press release was one of eye rolling and mild nausea. However, I purposefully did NOTretweet this — I didn’t engage in the hashtag attack, although I was momentarily tempted when I suggested #bonehead as a more appropriate tag to use (statement about the action – not the person).

    My personal feeling was that it was a waste of our time to give him exposure … because nothing other than negative exposure could have been earned in this instance.

    With regard to his character, it’s not on trial here. I’m not going to engage in some kind of character assassination, and those who have should be ashamed. The boneheaded decision to release this IS the issue people are so up in arms over.

    Matt could be the nicest person in the world…but to the friends who jumped to his defense earlier, amassing money and living in a gated community and picking up people’s checks — That doesn’t mean squat to me and it defends nothing of Matt’s skill or expertise.

    CONSTRUCTIVELY speaking, if Matt really wants to show what he can do, he should do case studies that illustrate his value, skill and expertise, rather than releasing bloated, self-aggrandizing press releases. Perhaps Matt should be involved in real DIALOG in social media channels… Perhaps he should have handled this better. I think we all agree on that.

    I respect Matt less for being surprised at the outcome and for shucking responsibility here. While acknowledging that he has learned from this, his primary action was to point the finger at his PR Company instead of taking ownership himself. WHO doesn’t read their own press releases? Especially when they’re written in the first person!??

    If Matt wants to earn the respect of his peers in social media, perhaps a better approach would be to better own this mistake, respond publicly and more transparently by demonstrating value..sharing knowledge…owning mistakes…engaging in dialog … and being more transparent and available. I can’t speak for all the comments or people involved here — but I believe these are the values the majority of his counterparts embrace.

  60. Wow, a lot of great points here and some very valid arguments as well. I can’t help but feel a bit sympathetic for Matt. I am also rather new the social media space and this is the second time I have seen an individual/company ripped apart, and it is a bit discomforting at that. While I have tried very hard to grasp an understanding of what goes on in each of the communities I engage in, it doesn’t seem hard, to say the least, to violate one of the many rules we seem to have for each other in these communities. What I do know is that I am learning new things everyday and still can’t keep up. While arrogance has never been or never will be the least bit appealing to me, I can’t help but think about the reason Matt may have hired a public relations professional in the first place. Do you trust the firms you hire to represent you well? Furthermore, do you have the time to review every single press release that goes out? If anything, Matt’s PR team may need to reevaluate their approach and understanding of what public relations really is. I hate the fact that so many of us bash and bash, and then offer no alternative solution. Whether Matt is completely arrogant or sincerely apologetic, as a newbie, nothing demonstrates leadership more than those who can offer a better solution. PR practitioners and social media consultants should be looking at this as an opportunity and showcase their abilities to rebuild the relationships that may have been tarnished throughout this experience.

  61. I have been following the conversations over the past two days and I have a few distinct observations about Matt Bacak press release fiasco.

    1. Old media tactics don’t necessarily work in a social media world. I will not disagree that Matt may have been successful using sheer “yell and sell” promotion tactics in the past, but the world has changed. A press release to generate impressions can now backfire faster than ever.

    2. Numbers do not equal quality. It is easy to get sucked into the twittergrader number or any other metric. I started that way (i.e. I wanted to see how to improve my score.) Now I have learned much by following others and participating in the conversation. Word of Mouth marketing is based on the quality of the referrer and how much you trust them. The ground is shifting from sheer impressions to quality conversations. Which one do you think is better?

    3. Don’t claim to be an expert unless you are seen as one by the community it involves. Matt claimed to be a “social media expert” by touting his twittergrade and Facebook followers, but claims in his response that he is “I am new to social media.” He claims to be part of the community, but follows no one. I have only been on Twitter for a few months, and I know better than that. The expert title should be “earned” not “claimed.” Ask C.C. Chapman…he still won’t claim it.

    4. You need to control your personal brand. The thought that Matt did not even see the press release before it went out is ludicrous. I worked on multi-billion dollar brands. I guarantee you that the brand manager, marketing director, and general manager of the brands I consult with would NEVER empower a press release to be sent before they review it. My personal name is even more precious than that.

    4. Get involved if you screw up. This conversation would stop dead if Matt took some of his time to get on Twitter and join the conversation. One reply on one blog does not equal conversing with the community that you enraged. He may not think it is that important…just wait for the rest of the long tail to strike.

    To the Matt Bacak apologists in the audience, I would state this. I do not envy Matt. I do not hate Matt. I am glad his has made lot of money. I don’t doubt his is a good guy. He may be a good promoter. But the world has changed. The time of “yell and sell” is over. The age of conversation has arrived.

    To Matt … join the conversation now. Blogs, facebook and twitter. Money or results does not make me respect you. True conversations will.

    I’ll be waiting to here from you @eseiberling

  62. Before all of this brouhaha happened? I had know idea who Matt Bacak was. Now I’m aware that he’s in Internet Marketing (old school) and he makes money running courses in how to Internet Market (old school.)

    If his PR person released that without his seeing it? He needs to fire the PR person.

    Yes, there actually *is* such a thing as ‘bad PR’ when you are dealing with Social Media. Don’t believe me? Ask Walmart about the Edelman/Walmart fiasco.

    Reputation-based communities aren’t all about “how much money you’ve made in a different arena” they are about how genuine you are in this particular one.

    1800 Twitter followers? Guy Kawasaki’s recent post can tell anyone how to get 1800 Twitter followers in a couple of weeks. But are they active? Are they people that are even really listening to you? Do they listen to what you have to say and think “Wow – if s/he recommends that, I probably ought to check it out!” or do they just scroll on by?

    Matt (if that is you) if you want to learn Social Media marketing in conjunction with Twitter? The trick is to listen. It’s not a broadcast medium, it’s a conversational one. The only people who are successful on Twitter with a hundreds-to-1 ratio are those who aren’t in marketing. They’re folks who have people to do the Social Media side for them…

    There is a good conversation that is always going about this new medium on Twitter, on Friend Feed, on blogs like this one. Just as you would probably advise those who wish to succeed in IM to learn from those who have already succeeded? You should probably take the same tack.

    Fortunately, in this arena, we have a new Twitter circus every couple of weeks – so you will be off the point shortly… Just make sure that in the future? If it’s got your name on it, it doesn’t get ‘released’ until you’ve read it.

  63. Since when is blaming your interns/employees/PR team a good response?

    What would happen if the CEO of Ford Motors blamed his assembly workers for quality issues in Ford automobiles. “Uh… I had no idea that my workers weren’t well trained. We just wanted to speed up production and cut costs. I’ll look into it.” It wouldn’t stand. Neither does this.

    Just because MB’s response is tempered doesn’t make it good.

  64. dannyarrington Says:

    I think we can all agree that there is a lot to learn from this situation.

    When we talk about the importance of being authentic & transparent in our pursuit of Social Equity, that goes over the heads of most people. Most people cannot imagine that they can build a loyal tribe of people based solely on “know, like, trust” and have them go out and spread a message without the promise of affiliate riches!

    For me, the ordeal serves as a solid reminder: Marketing is no longer about the inauthentic hyperbole. It’s about (for me) building REAL relationships…which take time. It’s about inspiring people. And it’s about empowering others to succeed through my network.

    I approach it very simply: What can I do to add massive value to my friends today based on their needs and not my own needs?

    Now I only know of Matt through his sales copy and what some of his friends have said here. He does use massive scarcity and, what I personally consider, manipulative writing. But I can’t torch him over that. It was not easy for me to break free from that stuff either and I have never made the kind of money with it that he apparently has.

    So while I don’t know him…barely know of him…I do know that there are THOUSANDS of internet marketers that are stuck in this flux. They don’t really understand it and so they do what they do…market, promote, persuade, convince, flash money, use scarcity. But it sticks out like a sore thumb.

    As an evangelist of the power and perfection of social media as a networking medium, I feel it’s important for us to allow OUR KNOWINGNESS to shine so brightly that people like Matt just eventually “get it”. And if they don’t, so what?

    I have seen far worse from bigger names. There is plenty of misrepresentation to draw attention to. If you (you as in we) are going to attack every article or wiki or tweet or squeeze page by an IM’er that you feel violates the unspoken “ethics code”, then we spend our time focused on what we are all wanting to leave behind. Is it true that what you give your attention to, expands?

    But I do appreciate this post and I do see the value in it. I wish Matt the best and I hope he finds his voice in the social media world.

    @dannyarrington

  65. So Matt;
    I hear that you’re a very smart guy, successful, and a whiz at driving “hits”, building “lists”, and collecting “followers” & “friends”. By your own admission you are having problems in utilizing social media tools like Twitter. I’m afraid I need to point out another area that you should probably stay clear of, especially if you want to avoid the wrath of a whole new group – Public Relations professionals.
    Your claims in your first comment on @mediapirate’s blog that you “I barely even knew about this press release. I did not write it nor did I even submit it. Yes, I did suggest to have it written. I take full responiblily for it.” – Others have already mentioned how ridiculous the fact that a Savvy Marketer as yourself would let a release be launched across a paid wire service, without having approved it.
    You then had the audacity that you have a “successful” process you use with “all your companies” called the “A9” process. Where, according to you: “The strategy includes PR, Atricles and other methods. We submit 2-3 press releases a day using it driving people to my opt in pages to build my list. That’s the game I’m good at but I’m always open to constructive criticism.”
    Here’s the deal, you are not submitting press releases, you are SPAMMING!
    To actually call it a “press” release, you need to submit it to a member of the press for consideration. Not blast it across a wire distribution service, not submit on your own behalf to Digg.
    You fail to understand that you no longer control the marketing message across social media platforms. You fail to understand that the purpose of a press release is to entice a member of the media to write an article about you (bestowing that sought after third party credibility). You have even attempted to pitch us rather than apologize and seek understanding. You are desperately clinging to, or blindly perpetuating marketing techniques that are vastly mismatched to the platform you are attempting to use. You vomit out hackneyed marketing processes that will forever associate you to INFOMERCIAL caliber marketing.
    If you are halfway serious about communicating, joining the conversation and assuaging a measure if the contempt you are being held in, you must start listening, and then begin talking. Start by responding not only on this blog, but on all of the other blogs that are discussing you. Converse openly and actively on twitter. Stop referring to the pieces of content you are submitting as “press releases” it only compounds the lack of true understanding you have of your claimed profession.
    I’d love to talk.
    Chris
    On Twitter – @MrChristopherL

  66. Well said dannyarrington and Lucretia (among others). And because of the “conversation” here I have decided to follow both on Twitter. That is how it is supposed to work- you show value and people find you. That alone is the lesson. In today’s world-specifically the social media world- you need to rethink the way you present yourself. Both the upside and backlash will be swift and mighty.

    I am also trying to figure it all out (wading carefully mind you). And if nothing else I now have a clear example of “what not to do” when any of my clients come to me and ask about this Twitter/Facebook social media thing.

    @smartalyx

  67. […] Back to Social Media Bacak’s (Basics) « Mediapirate’s Weblog […]

  68. Poor Matt. If Twitter grades and Digg rankings really made any difference in the real world. Help feed the hungry, find a renewable energy source, help the homeless..then write a release like this.

    I needed waders and a shovel by the 2nd paragraph. You can’t even call this ‘traditional marketing”, it’s so self-serving and such bullsh*t.

    The best thing Matt could do is launch a campaign call this “an experiment” to demonstrate what can happen if PR isn’t done right. But I still wouldn’t follow him…or hire him.

  69. I see many valid points here.

    I’m taking a lot of notes now. In Phil’s recent comment, “The best thing Matt could do is launch a campaign call this “an experiment” to demonstrate what can happen if PR isn’t done right.”

    I am going to do something like that.

    If anyone has any suggestions about things they think that I should contribute to using my self as a case study. I’d love to hear them!

    Also, tonight I’m going to do my best to make tonight’s ATLTweetUp that @jeffherring is putting on.

    If I can make it, I’m also going to share about this experience.

  70. RE: “Start by responding not only on this blog, but on all of the other blogs that are discussing you. Converse openly and actively on twitter.”

    I’ve been out of pocket for the last few days because of a boot camp. I’m back in the saddle for today. Can do exactly this off and on today – Im playing catch up on business stuff and getting ready for my Customer appreciation seminar Friday-Monday. So It’s going to be very hard. But, I’ll do my best.

    This whole debacle was totally unexpected.

  71. Matt-
    Bravo! We are all learning in this space. (I’m making my notes too.) I come from a media world where defense is the first respone so I appreciate, perhaps more than many, the way you are responding. Again, bravo.

  72. Looking around and watching some of the Twitter convos happening, it looks like Matt is paying attention and moving in the right direction.
    If I am not mistaken, Matt is even starting to reach out to some of the people who specifically laid out what went wrong with the PR and social media.

  73. In reply to Alyx Comments:

    I agree. Maybe all is not lost. With the conversation started anything is possible 🙂

  74. This is a community that values mea culpae, progress, and conversation far more than it remembers transgressions.

    Matt’s off to a great start. I hope Team Bacak is listening too.

  75. […] worthy of top dollars int he release. Given the suspect nature of Twitter Grader, he rightly caught a ton of grief about it. Bacak’s had a pretty smart recovery in his responses to folks yesterday on Twitter, but […]

  76. Great to see Matt Bacak responding. Hope it works well.

    However I am somewhat surprised that an apparently experienced online marketer was so ignorant of the operating model for social media. It’s almost 10 years since the Cluetrain Manifesto was published.

  77. I am saddened by the ridicule. I thought the social media community helped others first? I’ve read that hundreds of times yet, there are very few kind posts to let someone know, hey, Matt, it isn’t done this way in the social media world.

    You could spend quite a few months here and not get all the protocol “elements” because they are not written, or if they are, hard to find. Now imagine a new person entering this world, stumbling over hundreds of rabid-dog posts, name calling d***e bag, because someone wrote a Press Release about his stats.

    Was it a faux pas, guffaw, lack of knowledge, crossing of one world into another? Yes, all those things. I read in a post “let’s bring him down a noch or two. Imagine. And Matt was egoic? What about the ego behind the words, said with near glee, that the social community could bring him down.

    Thank you to those people who posted why it was a “guffaw, faux pas” kindly for by doing so, you helped others learn. For those who felt the need to ridicule, name call, and draw attention to your own blogs, you helped not a soul learn.

  78. Glad to see you posting, Matt. I knew you were tied up getting ready for your FREE customer appreciation Weekend where you pay the costs, bring in guest speakers so everyone can learn for about 150 of your clients. I also know you will find a way to make this a learning experience that others will benefit from.

    Best to you,

  79. In reply to Lois Comments:

    Hey Lois I’m sorry your saddened by all of this. People are just looking for a more open form of communicating than traditional media delivered and a lot of us are worried that social media is going to end up being the same sort of one sided media that radio and television have delivered. Everyone is doing their best to keep social media about the communication and I think that even Matt is starting to see this now.

    As far as the aggression goes, I agree that at times it got a little crazy but you should really look at the whole picture. Almost all of the people that threw out anger based comments to Matt because he was using this media in an anti-social way have now worked out their differences with Matt and are in process of educating him on proper social media etiquette. I also think that everyone involved learned through this how important it is to start listening and working together. After all that’s the power of social media right?

  80. Thanks Scott for your response. I do appreciate concerns that social media not slide into one-sided media and it doesn’t seem to be happening. My concern was the leap to character assassination. New people are entering social media by the hundreds of thousands at a rapid pace. I read posts that said how could anyone not know the way things are done here?

    Everyone is new at some point. As they get the hang of it many may make mistakes. Want to help them constructively or slam? One comment was the most prevalent–“never heard of this guy, must be a jerk.” As if to say, if he isn’t well known in social media circles, he has little importance.

    It went from not liking his Press Release to an all-out in-depth search of him with chastisement of his websites and methods. Matt and many others are direct-marketers. Is it old school as some think? Perhaps but only time will tell.

    It is simply two different methods and approaches. Yes, it crossed over but must say, it has taken me a while to grasp protocol as well.

    Let’s be kind people. Let’s lend a helping hand, or helping word. Share some love, teach, guide, point someone to a good handbook. We all live in this world and it is a huge world on-line and off. Let’s participate with an awareness that our responses can inspire as well as intimidate. Let’s not use the power of community to voice, “we need to bring him down a notch.”

    Thanks again for responding.

  81. Dang it- Matt snuck another one of his “friends” in as Lois. Shoot didn’t see that coming. And I am just kidding, Lois.

    What you say is true- there are many joining SM and there will be many that ram their head against the wall. I can say that I usually can separate the person from their actions. I have no ill will towards Matt as a human.

    As I said above- if Matt learns and improves his SM message from this then congrats. However there are two lessons to be learned here;
    1) The old school (and direct marketing is old school) mentality does not work well in the SM environment. In SM, let your actions and words speak for themselves.

    2) The world is just simply a smaller faster place. Google instituted the two-question quiz for EMAILs for this exact reason. Be aware of that and make sure you- not your admin assistant or PR folks- make sure you control your message. If you can’t control your message- don’t get into SM.

  82. […] publicly acknowledged his mistake and shouldered the entire blame for the […]

  83. […] last week.  I will leave him unnamed here so as not to directly pile on the poor guy.  But the MediaPirate and his readers went to town!  I suggest every recovering online marketer read this before making […]

  84. […] happened to a marketing consultant named Matt Bacak.  I won’t rehash it all, but you can click here, here and here to get caught […]

  85. Is there any information about this subject in other languages?

  86. If he read the Cluetrain Manifesto, he would have never made this mistake. It’s too bad I guess. I agree with the poster who said his reputation is safe. I don’t think he’s cooked. He embarrassed himself, but he’ll get over it. Lesson learned.

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