Yesterday, during a live WebmasterRadioFM show where I was chatting with host, Jim Hedger, the topic of fame and personal safety came up. He asked if I’d ever feared for my life or safety due to my long-time presence on the Web. I said “yes”.

Jim noted that people sometimes suddenly “turn on you”. We discussed how easy it is to be a “Troll” and drop vicious, ill-tempered comments throughout social networking sites and blogs. Having been online and involved with online marketing since 1995, I’ve been threatened via email several times. Because of Google maps, I try to not disclose exactly where I live.

Email harassment is a criminal offense. It’s reportable. I’ve needed to engage in police protection for myself. However, what seems to be less taken seriously are comments left in blogs and social networking sites. These outlets seem to be protected under Freedom of Speech laws. While some socially oriented sites claim that verbal abuse, spam, and the like are against their terms and conditions, I’ve found that reporting abusers is not always taken seriously.

So what this boils down, for myself, is a bad feeling that nobody is protected from vindictive people with an agenda. We’re all subjected to anyone’s whims.

Enter The Twitter Famous

The SEO industry is notorious for containing some of the most verbal, opinionated people on the Internet. It goes with the marketing territory. But, I sometimes wonder at toys such as TwitterCounter. It’s designed to rank your status in the Twitter-World. If you are in the top 100 Twitter users, you can promote this fact and bring more fame and attention to yourself. Another goal is to be one of the top 10,000 Twitter users. I’m not, and greatly relieved.

If I’m on Twitter THAT much, I must not be working.  I don’t want my clients and business partners seeing me rank as a top Twitter user.

The question I have for Twitter Fame Junkies is, why do you want to promote your number of Tweets and “followers”? What does your popularity in Twitter mean? For someone like President Elect Obama, who is the “most popular user”, it means he has a nicely paid staff working for him. It’s not like Obama is tweeting.

Who Hires High Twitter Users?

Twitter is sometimes referred to as “mini-blogging”. That’s ridiculous. A coherent discussion limited to 140 characters as in-depth as a conversion with a drunk person. In broadcast writing, we’re taught to get the message across in very few words. It takes skill and talent. Twitter is IM on steroids. It’s fun and when you have friends you like to hang out with online, it’s a blast. But, it is also where many people come as they are. Naked, sick, drunk, serious, raving mad, or bored. It’s not where everyone wants to promote themselves or their business, though many do and when there’s a business case for it, you can usually tell.

Because of tools that measure one’s popularity in social software and sites, I’m becoming confused about their purpose. Are these outlets for business networking or casual chatting? If they are for meeting up and reaching out to friends, who cares about being popular? Personally, I’m uncomfortable with being measured and compared. It places a so-called value on me that I don’t want to have.

Mixing Business and Fun

I’ll admit to not having this all thought out to any conclusion. On the one hand, there are some very serious problems that come with being well known. Jim Hedger and I were both pondering in amazement at the behavior we’ve seen online recently during the Webcology Usability and SEO Radio Show on January 8, 2009 at WebmasterRadioFM.

And then, there are persons entering the Internet Marketing industry who fall under the spell of people who sound like they know what they’re talking about, but who have no experience at all. Credible business people will post their email address. Persons with expertise can prove it.

There are risks to being popular online. I take these risks. However, I also have a lawyer, scary watchdog on the premises, an entire town of locals who know me, and other protective devices in place. I was forced into this because there are sick people who use the Internet as a weapon and feel it’s entirely in their rights to do so.

And I’m left wondering…who wants to support or hire persons who have so much time on their hands that all they can think to do is create controversy and stir up conspiracy theories? Why help anyone who takes a victim stance rather than those who kick ass and work like hell for their clients, community or employer?

Which is valuable, popularity or expertise?  Complaining or moving on to something productive and worthy?  Tearing down or building up and forward?  Getting in the last word or shutting the hell up before all your last bits of integrity have ceased to exist?

What criteria matter to you? Do you check credentials and work history for the people you align yourself with?

What will sustain us throughout this next year? Hard work or working to tear down people and companies?

Finally, to those who dream of fame and thrive on attention…

Have fun with that.

Unconditional Marketing and The Social Media Experiment
Friction between Networking SEOs


Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)