Why I Stopped Following @ProBlogger

, Another rant from , 14 Comments

Let me set the scene:

Somewhere perhaps 6 months ago, there was a meeting between a bunch of TV producers, a handful of marketing people and likely a social media guru.

Between them they had a deadline, some brand guidelines, a whole bunch of money and a goal of ensuring that the TV show they were working on got maximum exposure to certain demographics.

Their strategy included promo’s and commercials on high rotation during prime time, massive ads in newspapers and magazines, daily catch-ups disguised as current affairs in the channel’s affiliate ‘news and current affairs shows’, and then from the back of the room, the social media guru spoke up.

“We need to get the Twitterati talking about it too” spoke this voice of authority. “We should find out who the most followed and trusted Australian Twitter accounts are and get them to discuss our show”.

“Brilliant!” cheered the TV producer as he played with the keys of his brand new Jeep Cherokee.  “Adding this tactic to our already stellar line-up of washed-up has been judges who want this job to further their own music companies agenda! We have a winner”

The boardroom rejoiced, patted each other on their backs and started writing cheques.

This magical meeting was the marketing strategy meeting for the vapid piece of crap known as The Voice. A TV show about egotistical douchebag judges who allegedly judge people by their voice and nothing else.

I don’t follow many people on Twitter or Google Plus. It annoys me having to sort through update after useless update in order to find something relevant, interesting or informative when I am on these platforms. I follow only a handful of accounts that more often that not deliver on that quality I want to spend my time online reading about.

Tonight, it seems one of those accounts had been attacked by the vile parasite that is The Voice (#TheVoiceAU). To the point of being unrecognisable as an account that provides anything more than auto responses promoting the website job board or constant updates about ‘how good Ricky Martins hair is tonight #TheVoiceAU’, ‘How tough it’s going to be on Delta to pick a winner tonight #TheVoiceAU’ or something as equally mind-meltingly rubbish.


This account I once held in high regard had turned into a marketing machine for others, compromising the trusted name associated to its Twitter handle. It seemed to have sold its soul and the entire reason people trusted it and chose to follow it in order to be able to cash one of those aforementioned TV producer endorsed cheques.

Twitter Spam

That account was the ProBlogger account. (@problogger)

ProBlogger is considered by many to be the authority on creating a great blog. The account and website offered insights into how to write great online content, keep your audience engaged, build a faithful readership, monetise your website while not compromising your brand or message; generally helpful and insightful information about writing online. The site still achieves this goal, yet the social account seems to contradict everything else the brand has stood for except for the ‘make money yo!’ part.

Now, I’m not one of those people who is oblivious to this kind of marketing. It’s a great way to promote a product to a large-scale audience. I’d expect it from certain elements of stardom that offer very little to the world.

The Kardashian bridge trolls are a perfect example. They are famous for no reason. They offer no benefit to the world and have no expertise in anything more than being hollow, glitzy examples of what you hope your daughter will never grow up to be. These are the type of people who get married, divorced, remarried and have babies so as they can prolong their reality TV shows and sell magazines. I’d expect that these people would constantly try to promote brands in order to make a quick dollar or ten thousand.

Celebrity Twitter Edorsements

But this is something else.

This was an account that was known for preaching the benefits of building an engaged audience who trust your site and content. Encouraging blogs to monetise, but not at the expense of compromising your audience’s trust in you to provide something more than the generic dribble that pollutes the internet lately.

I really rated this account and the content it often posted. Hell, I even got to write for ProBlogger once and I promote it in a banner on my site. I really like what they do – except for this social spamming.

I held this account in high regard up until last night when I’d had enough of not being able to look at Twitter without having my eyes raped by the constant barrage of #TheVoiceAU from an account that was once so great.

To me, this Twitter account sold out; be it to a disposable TV show or just to its audience. And I think it’s a shame.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a professional blogger by a long shot. I like to write and I put it online. But here’s my bit of blogging advice to anyone reading this.

Don’t sell out your brand.

You spend so much effort building it up. You have earned the trust of many over a long period of time, and wasting it for a quick monetary reward is short sighted and, well, it’s just a bit of a shitty thing to do to your audience.

Yesterday, I had 100 accounts I was following on Twitter. Today, that number sits at 99. My new rules of Twitter are these:

  • Only follow interesting accounts.
  • Follow people I can learn from and/or be entertained by.
  • Do not follow anyone who promotes any TV show that has Ricky goddam Martin in it.
I contemplated whether or not to publish this. I honestly dig what Darren and ProBlogger do on their site and I’m more than happy to be wrong about some kind of deal occurring to willingly spam 180k+ followers with a TV show hashtag. In fact I hope I am, maybe Darren is just a massive fan of the show and feels compeled to tweet about it more than any other topic.Yet this doesn’t change the fact that this spam has rendered this account as little more than a marketing spam machine to me anymore – very little insights, just lots of promotion. And no doubt that’s not a big deal to ProBlogger or anyone else for me to rant on my blog or quit following them on Twitter, but my point remains the same. Sure Twitter updates are disposable – they have an average lifespan of about a minute. It is built for instant brain dumps. And if I don’t like it, then I should just unfollow right? Well I did. But I also saw a story to tell about why I did unfollow. When you have a loyal, engaged audience, I cannot understand why you’d barrage them with spam like this? In fact, I encourage people to follow the ProBlogger account and make up their own minds.
* end rant *
UPDATE: Response from ProBlogger (Darren) can be found in the comments below. He states that there was no ‘deal’ with anyone associated with The Voice and he is just a big fan.
The Voice Australia Spam

14 Responses

  1. Matt Antonino

    May 14, 2013 8:24 AM

    So the question is really one of channel. According to his bio, his “personal” tweets are @DarrenRowse but these aren’t “ProBlogger” tweets to you so they should live over there. Maybe it’s a good question for him – why don’t you put TheVoiceAU and AFL stuff on your personal profile? (Because let’s be honest, you only talk about the Voice but he promotes the AFL pretty much nonstop during footy season as well.)

    • Daylan Pearce

      May 14, 2013 10:53 AM

      Yeah perhaps.
      I get that this is the popular channel that gets he most reach, so no doubt it’ll be the favourite. But it’s popular for a reason and for me that reason wasn’t to see constant The Voice updates – that’s why I un-followed. A certain amount of personality and day-to-day banter is fine, but for me this was just excessive and annoying.
      Thanks for reading Matt.

  2. Emma

    May 14, 2013 11:53 AM

    I know we chatted about this last night, but I’m still not convinced ProBlogger ‘sold out’. Personally, this looks like newsjacking to me, a tactic that we use like it’s going out of style to boost engagement and encourage fans to interact with you.

    ProBlogger has a defined audience. Bloggers and content marketers. And judging by the people who are following him, he’s just about reached the upper limit of that audience. I had a look at the ‘vapid spam, piece of crap, bridge troll, douchebag’ tweets you referenced above, and they far and away have more engagement than his regular stuff promoting ProBlogger posts. There’s a reason for people who don’t give two hoots about blogging to interact with him. It’s brand new audience. #winning

    At any rate, keen to see how this one unfolds. Even if you didn’t remove douchebag, as per my suggestion :)

  3. Darren Rowse

    May 14, 2013 1:01 PM

    Thanks for taking the time to write this – it’s an interesting one to know how to respond to.

    To be honest I am still getting used to the idea that what I do compels someone to write a blog post about why they don’t like what I do :-)

    Let me start by saying – I’ve not sold out in any way. I am a tragic fan of the show – for some reason my wife, kids and I really enjoyed last years season. Based upon the ratings and the number of people I see tweeting about the show each night it’s on I am not the only one.

    I’ve never met or had contact with producers of the show. I do know Faustina who is in the ‘green room’ and have spoken at her event last year but that’s the only personal connection I have with the show apart from a couple of my own tweets getting on the screen. I enjoy the show and the things I enjoy… I tweet about.

    I would NEVER take payment (financial or not) from a company in return for tweets/posts without a disclaimer (and I’m struggling to think of an occasion when I have needed to do that). Probably the only times I’ve tweeted about companies that I’ve needed to make disclosures about are those that sponsor our ProBlogger Event (and I usually do so my introducing them as a sponsor).

    Now when it comes to WHERE I tweet personal tweets – I think you have some valid points. I’ve long grappled with where to tweet what from the very beginning of @ProBlogger.

    When I started the ProBlogger twitter account I began with fuzzy goals for it. In fact when I started on Twitter I didn’t think that it would ever last as a medium and only occasionally used it. As a result from the beginning my account has been a mix of personal and ‘professional’ tweets.

    I’ve long tweeted about my kids, movies, coffee, football and what I’m doing day to day – as well as all the ‘blogging/web’ stuff I do.

    I know that frustrates some people and at times I’ve had a variety of reactions to this ranging from:

    1. Feeling that I’d better set up another Twitter account for my personal tweets (which is why I set up @DarrenRowse) and separate out the personal and professional.

    2. Keeping on doing it – because after all ProBlogger has always been something of a personal brand. My face is all over it, I wrote most of the content and I want people to know I’m a normal human being with normal obsessions, quirks and interests.

    I tend to swing between the two extremes and have never settled on one.

    At this point I’m probably closer to #2 than #1.

    Interestingly last time I tweeted about moving all my personal tweets to @DarrenRowse I had 30-40 people tell me very quickly that they felt it was a mistake and that they liked that @ProBlogger was personal… I guess whatever I do I’m not going to please everyone.

    I suspect over the years Twitter will continue to evolve in how I use it.

    Anyway – I guess ultimately we all have choices. I can tweet what I’d like to tweet about – you can choose whether you want to see that in your twitter stream :-)

    I guess that’s the beauty of the web isn’t it!

    Taking this all in and pondering it – thanks for the feedback. Always happy to take people’s thoughts… although you’re welcome to email them too :-)

    • Daylan Pearce

      May 14, 2013 3:19 PM

      Hey Darren,
      Once again, thanks for responding.
      Happy to be wrong here and was hoping this was the case. Tweet purchases are something that really annoys me and as mentioned in the article, something I expect from people who aren’t known for the caliber of content I’ve come to know you and ProBlogger for.
      My thoughts (yep more of them) to come to the initial assumption I did in the article:
      #1 – These tweets were very different from even the personal ones I’ve seen from the ProBlogger account. They were sporadic, offered no information and seemed like filler rather than actual tweets I’d normally see. As Matt above mentioned, you do it with footy too. But even those tweets had substance. They had personality and your love of the game came through.
      The Voice ones didn’t have that. They seemed like filler. Always with the same hashtag. Every single night that show was on. This looked very suspect to me.
      #2 – I completely chose to follow your account, and you owe me no explanation or validation of your choose of posts, yet the content you were posting was enough to make me jump ship.
      #3 – you do have the personal account and when I checked that to make sure I wasn’t jumping at shadows, there were no such tweets, yet these seemed like absolutely personal tweets. (not knowing your discussions regarding dividing into two accounts)
      #4 – I think it was during the last year when you were loaned a car from Kia (I think they were a sponsor of PB Event last year), the branded tweets about how great it were coming thick and fast from the account too, so it was something I did know the account to do.

      So number #1, #2, #3 and #4 combined with my loathing of this TV show, and that brings me to creating this blog post.

      Believe it or not, I’m happy that you’re just a fan and not being paid or sponsored or whatevered by the marketing honchos at The Voice. But what was coming from the account was annoying to me so I un-followed.

      Additionally, like mentioned above I love what you do at ProBlogger, just not what comes from the Twitter account lately.

      Again, thanks for the reply. A very professional response that I’ve come to expect from ProBlogger.

      • Darren Rowse

        May 14, 2013 3:33 PM

        Totally understand that bought tweets annoy you – they annoy me too.

        I don’t really feel that TheVoice tweets were too different – I was watching a show, using the shows hashtag and was also tweeting back and forth with others watching the show a bit through those nights too so didn’t feel I needed to put a heap of context around them. I guess when you’re live tweeting an event they might seem a little weird to those not watching the event. Also when you’re tweeting a live event things move fast so you can’t always give full context.

        Also a clarification – the car was a Volvo and I tweeted a number of times (5-6 over a week from memory) that it was a loaner. There was also no expectation from Volvo of any kind of tweeting/coverage (in fact I checked with Volvo on that before accepting it). They also were not a sponsor of our event – last year Holden was the sponsor and I didn’t get a chance to drive one as I was too busy with other aspects of the event.

        • Daylan Pearce

          May 14, 2013 5:09 PM

          Fair enough. I’m taking it purely from face value.

          You were loaned a car, you tweeted the cars brand to your audience repeatedly. Tweets and mentions I assume you wouldn’t have tweeted were you not loaned the car from Volvo.

          My assumption was based purely on things I had witnessed from the account previously.

  4. Darren Rowse

    May 14, 2013 2:23 PM

    PS: you described my tweets as ‘raping your eyes’. Not sure how I react to that.

    Seems slightly over dramatic to me Daylan. I’ve never forced you to follow or stay followed and that imagery conjures up force, violence and a lot more that I’d have never wanted to associate with what i do.

    • Daylan Pearce

      May 14, 2013 3:34 PM

      Ok, I’ll take this one. Perhaps over dramatic for effect of the article.

      Apologies to yourself or anyone who may read this and find it insensitive. I in no way endorse or suggest that this is an acceptable act. It’s a word I used in no real context of the terrible act it relates too, and used purely as literary emphasis of how annoying I found a twitter feed full of The Voice tweets.

  5. Kitty Kilian

    May 14, 2013 5:04 PM

    Good conversation. I also gasped when I saw Darren’s list of tweets about The Voice. And I can understand anyone who gets suspicious. Native advertising is the new kid on the block and many of us don’t like it. Glad it was a misunderstanding. And I love Darren’s relaxed response. I have seen other probloggers handle cases differently 😉

    So, kudos to both of you.

    • Daylan Pearce

      May 15, 2013 9:10 AM

      I’m just happy the conversation was able to go ont0 Twitter and not use The Voice hashtag. :)
      AGree though, credit to Darren for making a succinct point and clarifying my assumptions in this case. Validates exactly why he is considered top of the field when writing stuff online.
      Thanks for reading Kitty.

  6. Paul Cunningham

    May 14, 2013 9:11 PM

    Not sure if the Twitter web interface has this capability but I’ve always used Twitter clients (Metrotwit on PC, Tweetbot on Mac/iOS) that let you block/filter based on hash tags.

    It is a handy way to keep following interesting people while filtering out a few of the topics or TV shows you’re not interested in (I filter out #QandA, for example).