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When Seth Godin isn’t Seth Godin

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of February 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments


Last week I had a quick conversation with Seth Godin via email about Twitter and in passing I mentioned his Twitter account. I was shocked to get a response to him saying that he doesn’t use Twitter and that the account I was referring to was actually being run by someone else (who that is I’m not sure).

It seems that someone (probably a fan by the looks of how it’s being used) registered Seth’s name on Twitter and is using it to simply push out his content from his blog. The use of the account is by no means malicious at this point (in fact it’s probably doing Seth some good because the account has over 1400 followers) however it does leave me with a take home lesson.

Secure your names and brands on Social Media sites.

1420 people have become followers of this Twitter account at the point of me writing this post. I’m assuming that most are doing it because they are fans of Seth and want to interact with him. I’ve seen quite a few people use @sethgodin messages over the last month and in all cases it seems that the person thinks that they are communicating with him.

While in this case the name isn’t being used badly one could imagine how it could be used negatively to impact Seth’s good name and reputation. The person running this twitter account seems to only be pointing to Seth’s own links but imagine if they started to push in their own content and making recommendations with his name! What if they started pulling in favors from other Twitter users using direct messaging?

Again, it doesn’t seem that this is what is happening here but it is something to ponder. While Seth is probably benefiting from this Twitter user with a little extra traffic it could have been something of a disaster for him.

It highlights to me the important of getting a hold of account names for your brand and name on popular social media sites. Even if you don’t use the accounts that you create it can be well worthwhile securing them to protect yourself from others doing so. This is by no means easy (there are so many of these sites to have to get registered on) but it could be a worthwhile exercise to spend a few hours one day soon to do it on some of the most popular sites.

Update – I decided to search a little more to see how many people were actually attempting to interact with Seth on Twitter and found quite a few. What was particularly interesting to me were a number of tweets from Twitter users who were frustrated by his lack of interaction with them:

After Dark, My Tweet writes – “If you use it (Twitter), I urge you to use twitterfeed with tact. Otherwise, your followers will tire of the twitterfeed spam and stop following you, thereby branding you a stinker and an insensitive spammer. This is the exact reason I stopped following Godin. But if used moderately, I think there’s a place for it. I would say: use Godin as an example of what not to do, then promote your wares accordingly. ”

Brian Writes – “He never seems to tweet about anything besides his latest blog post. Most of those blog posts are one or two paragraphs. They could have almost been tweets. If they were, he’d have saved me a click.” (Seth responded to this one with a comment clarifying that it wasn’t him Tweeting)

TylerReed Tweets – “I am no longer following @SethGodin until he decides to follow other people.. he’s a cool dude.. but I have an RSS reader to see his posts.”

turoczy Tweets numerous times about Seth’s robotic Twitter use – “Apparently, @sethgodins’s not willing to put in the “sweat” to participate in Twitter”

prblog Tweets – “Godin: 1K+ followers, follows no one. Kawasaki: 3,100 followers and follows 3,200. Interesting math.”

These are just a handful of people who’ve written about it Seth’s ‘use’ of Twitter in a negative fashion. Perhaps it’s hurting his reputation a little after all.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Wow i used to follow Seth in twitter.. Realizing now that Seth isn’t Seth!!!
    His Stats –
    Following 0
    Followers 1,425
    Favorites 0
    Updates 324

    Followers like me are mad, to never see how many he is following. Thanks for the Heads up Darren. Many who will not read this post will still believe that Account as Seth Godin’s accunt.

  2. Good that you took the time off to make sure a detailed post about online impersonation. Thankfully the guy using Seth’s name here isn’t doing crap, but still with other twitter users responding this way, the damage is definitely done.

    I guess to contain this situation, Seth must start using twitter and do some repair work. Maybe he could send out a message explaining the situation.


  3. This is so funny. I’ve only been on Twitter a few days. Seth Godin was one of the people I added to “follow”. I found it strange that he never said much, but there were links to his posts. I’ve read about him, followed his work and am an avid Squidoo lensmaster. His lack of interaction didn’t make sense to me.

    Now I get it. Thanks for letting us know. I can see how it can damage his rep.

    It’s evident that what happened at MySpace (with fake celeb sites) is happening on other social sites. The scary part is that people can use it to maliciously. Perhaps social networking sites should reserve prominent bloggers’ usernames and send personal invites? Just a thought.

  4. Know of any – one shop fits all – social media registration site (safe and secure of course). That way, you could just register all at the same time.

    But you are right – if you want to market your blog with a particular user name (like problogger), it makes sense to register this at the various social media sites, even if you are not intending to use them at the moment. You may want to in the future.

    Darren, what would you be able to do, if someone registered problogger somewhere and started using it?

  5. Honestly.. does it matter who follows you or not on Twitter? I noticed that most people that ever clicked on my Twitter urls or views my twitter profile are those who randomly check out the public latest posts from the front page of twitter.

    So honestly.. those who complain that they follow people and they don’t follow them back should seriously suck it up and stop the whining. It is only Twitter and it is used as a social medium for entertainment purposes. If you follow 500+ people, then when the heck do you have time to read everything they wrote? It is all random checking of other people’s short blurbs.

    You want to really advertise your blog, start commenting on other people’s blog posts. It is the most effective way to be noticed.

  6. I noticed a comment by a guy last week who tried to sign up to twitter and found that his site/profile details had already been pirated and were being by someone else.

  7. I know of a high profile non-profit that decided to set up a myspace page. When they got there they discovered they already had a page and 25,000 friends. It was their logo, their graphics, their content.

    They and their lawyers contemplated what to do. They decided to approach the person running the myspace site, and discovered she was a true supporter and was doing this work from her heart. They made friends with her and now she is a valuable partner in their work.

    This is a true story. Sometimes these things can work out for the best.

  8. This is one thing I have been trying to be good about lately. I usually sign up for just about any new and promising service offered. No, I don’t have time to participate in all of them but I at least want to secure my name or rather my most common and distinctive user name as well as my business name on these services. Some I don’t care about that much but for the more heavily trafficked and used sites I will sign up for an account.

    My official name is pretty common but my “less formal” internet “handle”/user name is getting more and more distinctive to the point it’s mentioned on podcasts, other blogs and people say they like it.

    I wrote an article on my blog a while back called,

    linkerjpatrick – My Personal Brand


    I admit I have the Seth Godin Tweets coming to my twitter feed. I has assumed that Seth was just running his blog posts via Twitterfeed like Guy K. but I guess not. So far it looks like it’s helping Seth (not sure if he needs the help) but someone could just as easily use it to make Seth look very bad.

    I remember a while back Chris Brogan was the subject of a bunch of Fake Chris Brogan accounts. I’m surprised we haven’t heard about people trying to sue these services or people signing up with them under their name. Some of these things are becoming more important than domain names in terms of potential traffic. I really wish it wasn’t so easy to sign up for some of these services. At least they should require you to list a phone number for verification or something. Sure someone could list the wrong one but if the real person protested they could at least match the records or something.

    Some things on the Internet are way too easy to do and thus have the potential of losing value.

  9. nooo… that’s horrible!

    This is a great point to be made.. I do try to secure my brand everywhere for this exact reason

    I’m not an A-List blogger yet but hey, I’m working on it :)

    Seth- it’s horrible that your name/rep has been compromised bc of this ..

    Darren- it’s great of you to help Seth clarify this.

    Bloggers helping bloggers.. so nice :)

  10. Although Seth Godin is not a common name – imagine high profile people with common names.

    Statistically, as a service get popular – the odds are greater that shared names will register. since this is a personalized service like Facebook and MySpace – identical names are probable

  11. Great point! I recently had a baby and I scooped up all the domain name he may use one day (firstnamelastname.com, firstnamemiddleinitiallastname.com, etc).

    I am lucky that I bought my own name a while back. I don’t have a common name but I’ve still had people e-mail me and ask to buy my domain name. Pretty funny.

    But, still proves, early bird gets the worm…er…domain I guess…

  12. So that is how you get thousands of followers?!! And all this time I’ve been using my own name. No wonder no one follows me!


  13. Good grief – this strikes me as someone with too much time on their hands. While it’s “nice” I suppose that someone thinks enough of Seth to promote his work for him, I really wonder why they would actually make the effort to do this. I’m a fan of many people – writers, singers, comedians, relatives… but I don’t create fake accounts on the myriad Internet services under their names to spread their gospel for them. Why? Well, I guess I figure it’s up to them to do that for themselves. Frankly, it gives me the creeps – especially considering how quickly it could turn ugly if this person decides to take it that direction. ~Janet

  14. Well, the username is also slowly being like domain names.
    Some one has rightly said “Good domain names are like beautiful girls, the ones we like are already booked”

    We should atleast try to take the usernames of top sites. Since it is just impossible to take each and every usernames.

  15. You know what’s interesting is, I am in no way, somebody that folks would like to imitate – Yet that is. However, I’ve found that my name is already gone a few social sites. Hmmm. Interesting.

    A lesson learned. However, I can’t think of anything I can do about it at this point.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  16. See? There IS a bright side to not being famous :D

  17. I think someone is trying to cash in someone else’s goodwill. Well this will certainly help him for the time being but in the long run this will surely not help the guy.

  18. This is very interesting, as I just started following Seth a few days ago, and I did notice that he wasn’t following anyone.

    When I set up twitterfeed for my blog, I seem to remember having to give up my WordPress password. I wonder how this person set this up (although it’s probably not that hard to hack your way through the process)


  19. I remember a few years ago when the push of “personal branding” was becoming popular, and now it seems that it would be a necessity for anyone trying to either get their name out there or protect their name out there.

    Sometimes, it can create a good or welcomed effect, however most of the time it seems to only create a tarnished image of one.

    The same holds true for business as well – I have a few domains and ideas going – so the first thing I did was register the name across the board – yahoo, msn/hotmail, digg, blogger, wordpress, myspace, facebook etc….even if I do not intend on using them, at least no one else can claiming they are me or a business I am invovled with.

  20. …Isn’t the date 2/1/08??

    Why is this post dated 2/2/08?

    I’m new to Problogger…Not sure where “Darren” lives, it just seemed odd to me…

  21. I seen things like this happen quite often, and I think it’s a great lesson to be aware of. Unfortunately it’s extremely easy for anyone on virtually any social media site to register an account under another name.

    Thanks for the heads up,
    Hafiz Dhanani

  22. This is my first post ever although I’ve been an avid reader. I have also done the same thing with my online brand. Every social media site I come across, I quickly register just to save my name from being hijacked by another person.

  23. I always try to snatch up my names … no matter what … you never know when it will come in handy!


  24. That’s a shame, because Seth Godin is a … god-in marketing. ::wince:: ;-)

  25. Question please-do you think it’s better to create accounts on places like Twitter under personal names rather than using a screen name or the name of a blog? I have such a common first and last name that I usually find that “my” name has already been taken, so I use the name of my blog instead. Do you think it’s better to try to secure one’s name instead?

  26. There is also the issue of “fake” social networks. They hire students to create profiles of real people without their consent. This happens by aggregating their stuff from disparate online places. Peek You does it. In this case the name seems appropriate, they spy on you. Anyone can then go in and upload your stuff found online and modify it — again, no controls, no checks and balances, free for all.

    I blogged about it a few months back at Conversation Agent and at Fast Company. I guess until such time when someone is truly hurt by it nobody will notice, or care.

    Set up Google Alerts on your name, search yourself periodically so you can stay on top of this stuff.

  27. Like many others, I too had assumed that it really was Seth. The fact that he wasn’t following anyone didn’t strike me as out of character, since he doesn’t allow comments on his blog. Still, I never bothered to follow his account, since it was nothing but links to his blog. If there was additional value (and if it were really him) I probably would follow him. But, otherwise, that’s what RSS is for.

    So, while this is a good example of why personal and brand reputation management is important, it can also sort of be seen as what NOT to do with a Twitter account (though, since it’s not really Seth, it would be fraudulent for this person to do more than just pump out links to Seth’s blog).

  28. I shouldn’t laugh as I would hate it to happen to me. But, all these people think they are speaking to Seth Godin and they’re not.

    Why can this person be doing it? Do they just like all the attention they are getting from other twitterers? Maybe they are lonely?

  29. My tweet comment:
    @problogger nice post on “Secure your names/brands”, talking about this recently, when most new sites & service come out I immediately register my handle/brand alexdesigns.

    It’s similar to the concept of acquiring every form of your domain to avoid affiliate spam and copy cats.

  30. I think this is an important lesson that if you plan to do anything online for a long time to come… you should purchase your name as a domain. What if you became famous and someone already owns your name? They would charge you a fortune to purchase the domain from them! After reading a post by John Chow nearly a year ago, I purchased my name. You never know…

  31. Wow, this amazes me. I follow Not Seth Godin and often click through. Like Darren says, it’s sort of an informal RSS for me. (I do this with Problogger too–in fact, that’s how I came here just now.)

    In fact, once there was a SG post that was no longer than the Tweet, which I remarked on. I figured SG was playing a game to write “real” posts that could fit on Twitter.

    If I was SG I would find this really creepy. Thanks so much for alerting us to it.

  32. Ethan you plonker. I bet you thought you’d well overslept didn’t you? Darren lives in Australia. That’s why he’s ahead of us all.

  33. Oh I’m glad to know that it’s Fake Seth Godin. All this time I though he just couldn’t be asked to participate. I stopped following him for the same reasons the twitterers described.

  34. I decided to go look at Twitter for the first time. I was SHOCKED to see someone using technosailor for their name.

    What would you suggest doing about it? :)

  35. There’s a lot of spoofing of presidential candidates. I’ve been followed by Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, John McCain, and another I forget — except they’re all really Ron Paul fans. That is deceptive.

    Meanwhile, AndersonCooper is a hilarious, obviously satirical fake.

    But you make a good point — I should go register in some of the obvious places.


  36. I find it odd that Seth has not had the account deleted. It’s my understanding that Twitter has been pretty responsive on name spoofers.

    It’s also another good reason why not to jump to conclusions; thanks for doing the research on this one!

  37. That’s interesting… I had no idea it wasn’t him but that makes perfect sense.

    I have to agree that since I already subscribe to Seth’s blog in my reader there’s no reason to clutter my tweets with his feed.

    Thanks for sharing!

  38. A while ago my friend registered on MySpace as “Orly Bloom”, intending it to be a homage page to Orlando Bloom. Soon she was getting loads of fanmail from young girls who hadn’t realised that she wasn’t actually Mr Bloom. She’s since deleted the account.

  39. Hi Darren,

    thanks a lot for the info ! I’m not using twitter, but I will lock my account NOW !

  40. I learned about this blog entry through Seth’s actual blog today… and I totally agree with Seth’s point of view in regards to all these social-networking tools we have available today on the web. (I totally support that he only actively uses a blog.)

    It’s too bad that people have been fooled into thinking that it’s Seth himself using Tweeter, but I suppose it comes with the territory.

    All these things, I feel, are just tools to promote a certain ends. With all these social-networking tools… all people are doing are promoting themselves… which, if you are “lucky” enough to get a huge following (thus becoming a “superstar”), it’d be impossible to keep tabs on just as many people. It would be inconceivable to ask a movie-star to also keep tabs on every one of his or her fan’s lives, wouldn’t it?

    In the end, I just want to say that keeping track of some web-personality’s each and every movement may be considered an excellent use of time for some… but originally, weren’t we supposed to be discovering good ideas and sparking our own imaginations?

  41. Might be a good idea if some innovator offered the real person (Seth Godin, Darren Rowse, Paul Burani and other internet demigods) a way to register likely IP addresses from which they would register an account. That way, if someone is based in New York and a bunch of content development is coming fro an IP in California, a red flag goes up and the imposter can be stomped out.

  42. Good advice, Valeria – I have a google alert on my name, too.
    Kathleen Lisson

  43. I just had my name stolen; it was just by spammers on Blogger, but this still hits close to home. My counter-attack, as you suggested, is to register my name on every other network that seems important. Even little-known bloggers with crazy names have to be careful.

  44. I was one of the people who was disappointed with how Seth Godin was using Twitter and I dropped a few @sethgodin’s about it. Today on Seth’s blog, he talked about using Twitter to build up relationships over time. Which goes completely counter to how “Seth” uses Twitter. So I wrote him a letter…


  45. Unwitting Twittering

    It has long been known that on the Internet no one knows you are a dog.
    Today, with the widespread adoption of web 2.0 tools and technologies, the rapid dissemination of false and malicious misrepresentation and the attendant fallout can be widespread and instantaneous.

  46. Such a good point. I do have my name website but had not thought of securing my name on the social sites. Thank you so much for this post.

    The Story Lady

  47. Great article! I was very surprised to learn Seth wasn’t active on Twitter, but then figured he had more & bigger fish to fry.

    When I joined Twitter & was hunting role models, I was amused to find several fake Joe Vitales. It was like an Elvis convention! At that moment, the REAL Joe Vitale tweeted asking how he could deal with his impersonators!

    It’s a funny new world, alright! P. :)

  48. Looks like Seth got his identity back ‘cos the Twitter account is locked down now and it’s Seth smiling back at you on the profile!

  49. I find comments like this so utterly ridiculous and laughable:

    TylerReed Tweets – “I am no longer following @SethGodin until he decides to follow other people.. he’s a cool dude.. but I have an RSS reader to see his posts.”

    As if they’re owed something? Who are you to determine that someone HAS to follow others before you follow them? Do you really think they’re going to think: “Well golly, *insert name of random person* isn’t going to follow me anymore? I better spend a few hours following some people”. Free world people.

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