How Not to Promote Yourself on Twitter


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Twitter is full of consultants and gurus aggressively pushing their products. Case in point: last Friday, I participated in a panel discussion on online marketing at Minnesota CLE. I mentioned it on Twitter, and got the above as a public reply. Since I had never even heard of Rjon Robbins before, his tweet was kind of like a stranger shoving a flyer in my face outside a store. I was put off.

But since the most basic goal of any marketing effort—on Twitter or anywhere else—must be to get people to know, like, and trust you, let’s examine Rjon’s response with those three basic goals in mind.

  1. I did not know Rjon before his tweet, so I had no idea why he was contacting me on Twitter.
  2. I did not have any particular feeling about Rjon either way, but I hate pushy salespeople, which his tweet proved him to be. I did not like it.
  3. Since I did not know anything about Rjon, I did not trust him, but I clicked the link from Twitter just to see more. It led straight to a sales page that looks like a lot of the e-mails that wind up in my spam folder. And given Rjon’s Twitter pitch, I seriously wonder whether he actually knows anything about marketing. So no trust, either.

If you want people to do you a favor, like plug your product at a panel discussion on the other side of the country, do not approach them like a snake oil salesman. Lay the groundwork without selling anything. Be genuine and interested, and build a relationship.

Then, you will not have to make a sales pitch; your contacts will mention your products and services on their own.


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  • Sheryl Sisk

    Rjon’s not unknown in this area, although I agree with the scuzzy self-interested pushy tactics being out of place in SMM/SNM, wholeheartedly. He’s got some credibility (at least as of four years ago or so, when I was getting ready to launch my former practice) although I don’t know what he’s been up to lately.

    One quibble, though: I’m concerned about your statement at the end that prospects will “bring it up on their own” if you’ve formed relationships, been authentic, etc. I agree that relationship-building MUST come first (and it must be authentic, genuine, non-self-interested), but in my experience traditional marketing isn’t dead, nor is it unnecessary.

    I know what you’re getting at here — that concentrating on providing value provides a more solid footing with prospects than simply saying “Here, click HERE!” and I totally agree with that — but I’m concerned that business owners (lawyers, in this case, but it equally applies across the board) will think they don’t have to do anything else – just sit back, run their Twitter accounts and watch the dough roll in. In my experience with clients, that just doesn’t happen.

  • I agree that the “walking billboard” is the optimal outcome, but not the automatic outcome.

  • Joel Anderson

    This kind of reminds me of one of those TechCrunch articles where Arrington pastes a particularly egregious PR email into his post in its entirety. I love those posts, because the “spammer” for lack of a better term gets what he was asking for, in a sense.

  • Spam twitter posts were inevitable, of course, and unsurprising. What is surprising is that people are so lame that they continue to think screaming “LOOK AT ME!!” at the top of their lungs is actually a good way to generate business. Why would you trust some guy invading your twitter thread any more than the guy knocking on your door at dinner time explaining why your kids really need a new, leather-bound set of Encyclopedia Britannica? Blogging, Twittering, Facebook, LinkedIn and the other social media sites have benefits, but they seem to exacerbate certain people’s tendencies to act like cretins.

  • Since I’m being held up as an example of what “not” to do on Twitter I thought I’d set the record straight by adding a bit of “context” to the above post. Apologies to all the drama tweeps who were looking for a bit of melodrama to liven up their day. Because that’s not what happened here:

    I read a number of tweets about a program being presented about starting a law firm. I tweeted to the presenter to let him know about a resource. That’s it. The kind of thing that happens every day on twitter. Except usually when you tell someone about a relevant resource on a topic they’re scheduled to speak about you get a “thank you”. Instead what I got was a bunch of b.s.

    As a point of clarification, I thought social media was supposed to be a place where people share resources? I suppose that if I had made the presenter aware of a resource for helping lawyers start a law firm that was written by someone ELSE, that somehow would have transformed me from a self-interested jerk into a provider of useful information about relevant resources that are directly on point to the speech he tweeted he was going to make on this subject.

    Interesting premise. You only get thanks for telling someone about a relevant resource if it’s written by someone ELSE. But when you tell that same person about an equally relevant resource that’s written by you it is considered spam.

    Hmmm. Maybe we should organize a directory of all the people who have written books about how to start a law practice. And then we’ll all draw straws for who is going bring each others’ resources to the attention of speakers who are scheduled to address lawyers on this important topic. Because apparently telling someone about someone else’s book makes you a valued member of the community but telling that same person about your own book on the same topic makes you a spammer.

    Does this seem a bit socialistic to anyone else? Or maybe it’s just moronic.

  • Attorney JJ Cool


    Great site, but I have to say I disagree with you on this one. I think they reason you were put off is that you don’t know who Rjon is. If it was from Foonberg or Gladwell you probably wouldn’t have the same reaction. Rjon is pretty well known as a rainmaking “coach”. I’ve seen him speak and despite his goofy name, he knows his stuff.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

    • You’re right; I was put off because I didn’t know who Rjon is. It was a pretty poor way to make an introduction, even over Twitter.

      I understand, though. Not everyone gets Twitter (and other social media, for that matter) right away. Hopefully Rjon has gotten the hang of it, by now.