Why I Call Out Bad Behavior

linkedin tag

Last week, I called out a social media influencer who crossed the line. 

She posted on LinkedIn about the a program she was selling. Below the post she added 10 comments. In each comment, she tagged 30 of her connections. 

No commentary in the comments. Just tagged connections — 300 in all. 

Why’d she do it? So those tagged connections would receive a notice from LinkedIn telling them they’d been “mentioned” by the influencer. That notice would link to the influencer’s post.

Many of those connections would click the link in that notice to see the post where the influencer “mentioned” them. 

I was among the 300, and I clicked. 

When I landed on the post and saw my name, buried in a haystack of 299 other tags, I realized I hadn’t really been “mentioned.” I’d been tricked. 

I posted a comment under her post, calling the influencer out for the tactic. And then I created my own post that called her out by name. 

I wrote, in part: 

“This is a trick to get all those (tagged) to click through to the post when they see they’ve been mentioned. The <Person> is not really being mentioned in the post for any reason other than to summon them to look. I don’t think that’s what LI had in mind when it designed the functionality. Please <influencer’s name>, quit notification spamming and don’t teach this tactic in your challenge.” 

Fifteen people commented on my post. Fourteen agreed with me.

One disagreed. He told me the influencer is his friend, and he told me I was out of line. 

He accused me of calling the influencer evil (I hadn’t). He accused me of fostering cynicism and negativity on LinkedIn. He suggested my post was much worse than hers. And he said “successful people” don’t let posts like hers bother them.

“Maybe this was a reflection of something you need to address within yourself,” he said. 

I didn’t sleep much that night…

I thought a lot about why I call out bad behavior and whether I’m doing more harm than good. And when I rolled out of bed, after hours of tossing and turning, I knew…

I was right. The influencer was wrong. And her friend had missed the point. 

I’m tired of tactics that mislead and trick followers to get more opens, clicks, and sales. 

It’s wrong to comment on your own post with 300 tags — just to generate more clicks to your post. 

I call out bad behavior because I want it to stop.

I do so publicly because I want people to know where I stand. 

And I know many very successful people who do the same — including my friend Ted Prodromou who wrote “The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business” (Entrepreneur Press). 

The influencer’s friend told me I should have contacted her directly, rather than post about it publicly. 

I’ve reached out to people before to call out their bad behavior. They usually ignore me and continue the bad behavior. 

Perhaps this influencer would have acted differently.

But I still think it’s important to call out bad behavior in the open. 

I want marketers to ditch the dirty tricks. And I want discussions like this to be in the open.

The social platforms don’t police themselves.

We have to police ourselves. So we have to debate these questions in public forums. 

You can achieve business success without these tricks. 

I called out the influencer by name because she’s an influencer. Others follow her lead. They copy her tactics.

When she employs tricky, questionable tactics, she fosters more bad behavior. 

What would happen if all of her 23,000 followers followed her lead and began to tag hundreds of people in their posts? 😫

Influencers should know better. They should be held accountable.

And all who are participating in the online forums should hear the conversation when someone says, “I don’t like this tactic!” 

This is not fostering cynicism and negativity. This is about debating best tactics and principles to make our online world work better. 

By the way, this influencer spoke directly to one of the people she tagged. That person commented on my post and said he was “annoyed” by her tactic. 

The influencer told him she made a “big mistake,” and she removed her post with the 300 tags. 

So I removed my post that called her out. And now, I don’t think it’s necessary to name her. 

What do you think? 

Shoot me a reply. I welcome your feedback.

Don't go away yet..

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.