Why @GaryVee Should Not Stop Tweeting at His Groupies

Gary Vaynerchuk and I had a long discussion last night about responding to people on social media.  Click here to see the conversations. Gary makes some great points, but it got a bit heated at times.

It’s all Jeff Bullas’ fault.  (Jeff, I’m just kidding)

If you prefer my leadership posts, this one might not be for you.  It’s a bunch of social media theory related to a brilliant guy who has a following of around one million people on Twitter. It will apply to anyone using social media who is crunched for time.

Let’s get started.

Why should Gary Vaynerchuk NOT stop tweeting at his groupies?


The better question is, “who cares?”  It’s none of my business.

Gary likes it and they like it.

It’s a win-win.


Gary sells more books, gains more followers.  The groupies love the little tweets back.

Everybody seems happy.

Who the heck am I to question that?

My only reservation is that this is just one example of how social media is killing real communication.  I think it’s a relevant topic for any leaders that are strapped for time, even if they don’t have that many people following them.

He thinks he’s caring by responding the best he can (I would agree), but I can see how he would feel trapped into a world of meaningless activity.  My main thought for Gary was that maybe he should publicly announce a step back from responding to 70% of tweets and focus on building more quality relationships.

Three reasons why:

1) Quality over quantity

I’m having a hard time seeing how hundreds of ultra quick twitter responses is worth much to the non-groupies out there. Gary can tweet at least 10 times per minute. Are connections being made?  Would we even know who we’re tweeting at? Honestly, I sometimes find myself doing the quick responses, thank you’s, etc and I only have 8,500 connections.  I don’t feel good about that when it happens.

Rather, I’d say pick a couple people each day, get to know them a bit, and have deeper conversations that lead somewhere.  You can’t please everyone.

Otherwise, it’s like walking through a busy town of people who all know you and all you do is nod, smile, shake hands, wink, and say hi.  More like a politician than a normal person.

2) Reputation

If you build a reputation on responding to people and valuing them, then you have to do that.  However, when I first reached out to Gary a long time ago, I didn’t get responses and it was irritating because he wrote in his book “Crush It” (highly recommended) that he would respond to anyone who tweeted or emailed him.

Because of his brand promise, I felt like he was being fake for not responding to me.  I like building relationships, not chasing stars around like a groupie.  Successful people don’t enjoy feeling like groupies.  Therefore, it will limit the type of following that he will have.  I don’t follow celebs back because I know they can’t engage.  I don’t see Gary as being any different.

When building relationships, it’s key to under-promise and over-produce.  This seems like another good example.

3) Time

It may not seem like much, but a couple words to 1000+ people a day takes up a TON of time.  I can see why he’s not able to respond to everyone.  It probably doesn’t help that Gary and I spent 4 hours chatting on Twitter last night.

Since we’re both business leaders, we have to consider the opportunity cost of random chatter on Twitter with people we won’t remember.  Our conversation was enlightening, fun, and a bit entertaining (especially the haters below), but I wonder if the same benefits apply when tweeting back the quick smiley face, three word phrase, or “thanks” to a couple hundred people per day.  Probably not.

I’m all for responding to everyone who talks to me.  I think it’s rude otherwise.  (Yes, sometimes I’m rude and don’t respond)

However, Gary has almost 1,000,000 followers just on Twitter.  Gary is a fellow 8pm Warrior, but regardless of how hard he works, how little he sleeps, or how fast he types, he still has 1440 minutes in each day…just like you and I.

At some point you run out of time.

You also run out of brainpower.

I believe Gary is a brilliant guy.  However, no amount of passion and effort will lead to quality relationships with 1000’s of people.

We’re not wired that way.


Most scientists say that we have the ability to maintain relationships with about 300 people, max.  Everyone else is in one ear and out the other.

Sound like a worthwhile relationship?  I can’t see how.

That’s why I don’t follow celebs, weblebrities, pro athletes, etc.  That’s why I wasn’t following Gary until today.  They are literally incapable of carrying on meaningful relationships online with most new folks like me.

They’re overwhelmed, sold out of attention, and don’t have time to respond. Classic example of Attention Era challenges.  I was shocked when Gary responded, and he’s known for trying his best.  People like Jeff Bullas and others who have 100,000+ followers usually don’t respond at all and I don’t blame them either.

Each person only has so many minutes in  a day.  I’d rather have them enjoy fulfilling relationships rather than spending every minute of free time sending winks, haha’s, lol’s, etc.

That’s just my humble opinion.  What’s yours?

Have a great night,


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Published by Aaron Biebert

I'm a director, film/video exec producer, leader & 8pm Warrior. I am passionately chasing my goals at all times. I'm listening. Let's talk!

28 comments on “Why @GaryVee Should Not Stop Tweeting at His Groupies”

  1. Hi Aaron!  What an interesting post…and the dialogue was fascinating.  I think a huge component in the choices we make regarding our online presence is what our offline personality is like.  Obviously I have never met @GaryVee:twitter but I have watched a number of his videos and I have seen a man who appears to have boundless energy…I’m sure he kept his family and teachers on their toes when he was a child…his is that frenetic, always-need-to-be-doing-something kind of personality that, perhaps, derives exactly the perfect amount of joy from cultivating relationships based on tweeting frequently and briefly…kind of a “tweet-lite” type of relationship.  And, it seems that that really works for Gary.  My personality is way more reserved and laid back, and, as a result, like you, Aaron, I would rather cultivate the few (and I have far less “followers” than even you) online relationships that I have.  It would make me crazy to have masses following me that I could only give brief attention to.  BUT….that is MY personality and I have learned where and how I derive joy in my life.  SO…while I totally agree with your feelings on quality, reputation and time, (because I am much more like you than I am like Gary) if it works for the Gary Vaynerchuks of the world, then who am I to argue?  Like you said, it seems to be a win/win for Gary.  It would never work for me, but then, running a dental office and a social media business for dentists would probably never work for Gary ;-)
    Always LOVE your posts @Biebert:twitter


    1. Thanks Claudia,

      I agree with you.  I was wrong and made sure to tell @GaryVee:twitter that as soon as I realized it.  Just because I don’t understand or don’t enjoy a certain style of relationship building, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

      It’s just that the brief interactions I’ve had with him make me believe he may actually enjoy deep relationships.  But who am I?  His therapist?  :-)Hopefully this discussion helps people refine their own approach and give engagement some thought.  Obviously you and the  @socialmediadds:disqus crew get it.Always love your thoughts.

  2. I just have to add that Gary was one of the first people who followed me on TWitter. I had FEW followers but we connected on some topic I can’t even remember. We had a few tweets go back and forth that were enlightening and real. He immediately followed me. 

    I think we have to all be cognizant of the reality of social media. The more your following grows and wants to talk to you the harder it becomes to be personal with each and everyone. I think we all try to do our best every day all day. 
    However, the truth is would you rather him or me or anyone else tick off a few Twitter followers once in awhile b/c he can’t reply to every single one of the hundreds of thousands or actually be able to have a life, a biz to run, and real content to talk about and not have a life or be able to hug his kids except to tuck them into bed? Or would you rather he and all of us do the best we can and try to also live a life? 

    There is an initiative I just saw the other day #FreeHandsMama that is about being there for your kids in real time, for the moment. I read it this week and have already vowed to my kids that mommy would do such. I had the first #HandsFreeMama baseball game w/my 8 yr old lastnight as we watched his brother play in the semi-finals. His comment after the game was “mommy that was the best game ever!” He then explained to his brother that I had my phone in my purse the entire game.  Now, that my friend is what matters. We are all human and we all have only so many hours in the day. 

    I think we need to look at the reality of each situation and what is humanly possible and sometimes give people a break! 

    You know I love you Aaron and love a good debate. I couldn’t help telling you my heart on this one because this is what has been on my heart all week. I am working on a post on such that will be live hopefully next week. !

    Now get off Twitter and go hug someone! LOL 


    1. I forgot to also add that I was at an American Heart Assocation event last week. Did you know one in three women die of heart disease. Stress, lack of sleep are top contributors for both men and women. Heart disease statistics are out the roof & I can guarantee you there are far too many who have taken potentially years off their life by tweeting, Facebooking away an entire night of sleep so they “can be social” and respond to fans. 

      It’s so much deeper than a reply on Twitter. It’s about human beings being human beings.  

      Okay… there is my .50 cents after my first $1.59 left on the first comment! ;)

    2. Howdy Pam!

      I think one of the best parts of Gary’s personality is his interest in connecting with everyone.  Early on, this led to him building an amazing community by engaging and connecting with people like you.
      My only thoughts are about the next level, once it becomes too much.  I’d hate to see his reputation as a nice guy fall apart as people tweet at him, look for a response, and see nothing.Even if he responds to 50% of people, that’s still 50% that are left feeling ignored because Gary is famous for responding.

      For the record, I was suggesting that he does NOT try to reply to everyone.  He disagreed.

      I suggested that he simply announce that he would not be able to respond anymore.  People will understand.  Then, when he does respond, he will be over producing instead of under producing.  He is also free to have more 3 hour conversations with people he is interested in building connections with.I have a whole new appreciation for Gary after our talk, and I think it would be great for him to build deeper connections with a few, rather than shallow connections with many.
      People will understand.  Groupies still follow Bieber.  He doesn’t respond much at all.  Just a couple times.And those times are priceless.  Just like you Pam.Thanks for opening up your mind and heart to me.  I think you’re right on.  Just wanted to clarify my position a bit.

      Talk soon!


  3. His ROI has gone to the same as a print ad, 3%-5%. Its a natural progression as he has gotten bigger. Even as he does reply to people at 20 or 30 at a time which is far more than most of his peers, the overall  ROI is low based on the fact he gets thousands of tweets and emails that go unanswered. Its totally understandable that he cant keep up but its a bit played out that he still wants to be known as the dude who replies when in fact its not the case when you look at his total replies vs tweets to him. Ill just re-state that its totally understandable his inability to keep up but his 2007 ROI is far greater than his 2012 ROI. Its just how getting bigger in business goes, we as the audience just need to accept it, but he needs to as well.

    1. Gary insists that he’s at 70% response rate (which is impressive).  I just wonder how long it can last as his community grows and he grows weary of tweeting smiley faces and haha’s.

      Appreciate the thoughts.  My thoughts are evolving.

  4. I can totally relate to the discussion here Aaron and believe the most important aspect missing is what works for Gary, and others like him, and how it is received by those who he “speaks” to. I say this all the time… there is no right and wrong, there is what works for each of us as an individual and a brand. On a much smaller scale I have a similar challenge as Gary and do my best to respond in a similar fashion. I met Gary f2f four years ago and realized we had a very similar outlook with respect to connecting and responsiveness. He asked me to meet him for wine one evening and upon arriving on the upper east side found out he had 15 minutes to spend with me. Now I could have been miffed that I came all that way for only 15 minutes, or appreciative that he took the time to reach out, ask me to meet, and spend some time with me. I chose the latter as I am sure many who follow him do in their rapid social interactions… and the same as many do with me and the time I give to each. I listen when people give me feedback, gauge what I do regularly, and evolve how I do so all the time. But for the most part I rarely do an about face unless something I am doing is really not working or truly annoying a majority. 

    Gary, as many of us who are speaking to more and more, is doing what he believes is in the best interest of his brand and for those to whom is responds. I am doing the same. 

    IMHO we are staying as true to our brand as we can (practicing what we preach)… instead of becoming totally unresponsive and not walking the walk of engagement, interaction, and relationship building (as many other leaders in the space have done as they tell us what to do, but have stopped even trying to do it themselves). 

    1. You know Ted, that’s a good point about practicing what you teach.  Thanks for sharing that perspective.  Certainly makes sense for me.

      At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to do social media.  It’s obviously working for both of you and I’m thankful to have met both of you through it.

      Ted, someday we need to meet up and have a glass of wine.  Hopefully more than 15 minutes.

      1. Just saw your response… sorry for taking so long to respond. We definitely have to meet f2f and will absolutely spend quite a bit more than 15 minutes :-)

  5. Great post & ensuing conversation, Aaron. Here are a couple of thoughts as I reach 130,000 followers – far, FAR fewer than GaryV!

    * Like Gary, I’ve built my reputation on engaging folks kind enough to follow me. I absolutely agree, it’s just rude not to, and my parents did not raise a jerk (insofar as I am a jerk, that’s all my doing ;)

    * As I drifted toward 30,000 followers, I found myself overwhelmed by the number of folks reaching out each day to say hello. I wish I could reply to each one, but I literally do not have time – like most people, I’ve got a lot going on outside of Twitter, so I can’t stay tuned in all day long, fun as that would be.

    * What I do is jump into the Twitstream as I can throughout the day, see who’s saying what, and reply to a few. I wish I could tell you I have a pattern, but it’s really just who catches my eye: what they’re saying.

    * Would I feel snubbed if I were on the other side of such behavior? I would. But now that I’ve been immersed in the Twitosphere for a few years, I get it. If someone doesn’t reply to me (this happens all the time), I’ll either blow it off or try again.

    * Something for us all to consider: often it isn’t that our tweets are insufficiently compelling to elicit a reply; rather, it’s that the recipient isn’t online at the time, and our tweet falls away on their mentions column. So now I don’t give it a moment’s thought.

    Not replying at all, ever? To me, that’s not very social. Only replying to people with a high clout score (utterly skewed and meaningless) or huge following? That’s lame and shallow. Doing your best, and hoping your friends forgive you for not replying much of the time. I’ve learned to forgive myself for being imperfect. I hope my followers can do the same.

    As long as Gary doesn’t follow “The Great Hypocrisy” – I mean “unfollow” – I’ll remain a distant supporter.  

    Thanks for the terrific post, Aaron! Getting us talking – that’s what social’s all about, isn’t it?

    1. 1) I think you’re doing Twitter the right way.  I never doubt your authenticity.
      2) I find myself failing at responding.  Only about 9k followers.
      3) I hear ya.
      4) Yep, that’s why I eventually stopped talking to Gary on Twitter.  I met him in person a couple times and felt highly irritated that he wouldn’t respond several times after telling everyone he would respond to everyone.  I get how difficult it is, just don’t know why he doesn’t just declare that he can’t respond.
      5) I agree.  Too much in the stream.  I’m continually amazed at how well your respond to me personally.  Truly great.
      6) Yeah, no responses isn’t what I recommend.  Just not claiming to respond to most.  It’s not feasible.

      Thanks for the great thoughts (and time spent).  Always appreciate your brilliant comments.  



  6. I respond to hundreds of people every month with verbose e-mails that  take upwards of a half hour sometime to compose. The only reason they’re entertaining to the respondent is because they ALWAYS ask for it. I think most of them are boring to the point of ridiculousness (I usually fall asleep several times while writing them), but troubleshooting tech / web development / marketing problems is something that a lot of people overcharge for, and if I think that a project is more than a passing fancy for someone, I don’t care to give them 20 minutes. I got in the habit of answering solicited advice requests before I started blogging, so I’ve continued to do it even as it has started to take a couple hours every week sometimes.

    On Twitter, I’ll always reply to people who send me a message in a mention. You can’t say much in 140 characters anyway, so being to the point and short with your answers is the most effective way to communicate without taking the conversation elsewhere. Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in an argument with Gary Vaynerchuk, but for the people who are interested in following something like that, a blog post (with a transcript *ahem*) is a better way to share it. You can’t forget about the other 8,000 followers who received 100 tweets in 4 hours that were completely out of context unless they had been following the whole conversation. Some people may even have alerts set up for your Tweets. One thing that is a fact: Social Media people do not use Twitter like average people. The resemblence between 

    Twitter and an IRC chat box is so strong that users almost immediately forget that each Tweet is a piece of micro content, and should be able to stand on its own. It’s great to reply, especially when you have a degree of notoriety because the people reaching out want your reply more than anything in the world. The truth is though, that reply is likely not something of interest to the vast majority of your followers or Twitter users. If someone does ramble upon your convo while browsing your Twitter page, the tweets are often hard to follow. 

    Everything on social media doesn’t have to resemble speed dating. I’m not really talking about the speed either, but the hand holding and forcing it. I just feel like sometimes people think “I can have 150 genuine connections, and I need to have a personal connection today, share a story tomorrow, ask an insightful question Wednesday, compliment their family Thursday and discuss fly fishing after that.” When you start analyzing what genuine connections mean and how they work, you often lose touch with the real you. It’s different for everyone, but never is being genuine scripted or routine. 

    1. Adam, first of all…thank you for taking the time to write this.  

      Second, any good tips on how to get a transcript of our convo to share?  I just favorited everyone and used that link.  Not sustainable.
      As for the part about taking up the feed of others with discussions…

      When you reply to someone on twitter, the only people that see it are A) That person and B) anyone following you and that person.  That’s why I’m usually very generous with the replies.  Hardly hurts anyone.  If it does, they can always unfollow me.

      As for speed dating…

      That was my main point of this article.  Relationships should be worth something, right?  It seems like a healthy amount of experts think I’m wrong.  Wouldn’t be the first time.

      Adam, thanks for taking the time.  You are appreciated.


  7. While it won’t make EVERYONE happy, I think replying when you’re able is the best one can do. I reply to most replies (not just sharing my articles or RTing my tweets) when I’m able. I miss some, and I’m ok with that. Are others ok with that? I can’t worry about it. What others think of me (and why they think what they do) is truly not my business.

    Very interesting post. Bring this one to social media club Wednesday. It’s worthy of more discussion for sure.

    1. Doing one’s best is always appreciated.  My main point of discussion with Gary was what expectations were set (respond to everyone) and how that isn’t happening.  He genuinely seemed surprised that I thought he wasn’t responding.

      It was a good discussion and I think we should discuss it at SMC Milwaukee.  Something we can all learn from.

  8. People can use there account how they want to use it. Your opinion may make sense to you. Now Gary cannot respond to everybody. Any reasonable person would acknowledge that is the case. The reason I am here on your site is because of Gary Vee. He was the person who inspired me. I saw a video of his and the rest is history. I opened a twitter account, started a blog, started to engage people and continue to pursue my dreams. He follows me too and has responded on a number of occasions. Yes. the smiley is welcomed. The truth is it does not matter to me if he responds or not. I know he is real and believes what he does makes a difference. No. I am not a groupie. Labels are for suckers. I know he cares and most people who follow him know he does too. That is why he has so many followers and people buy his products and services. He is not looking for attention. He wants to make a difference and loves what he does. The real truth is everybody is going to have a different style and preferences when it comes to using social media. I have quite a few celebrities I follow on different accounts and on my personal accounts. Some of them follow me back others don’t but it makes no difference. It’s the work they do that matters. Gary does not need to justify to anybody why he does what he does, you me anybody. As long as he is happy, healthy and lives productively it’s his call. Yes he is a leader and may be that is why your expectations and opinions are set so high. I don’t know. And you have a right to your opinion. Heck this is your real estate. But when you started calling people groupies you are crossing the line where social media heretics go to get buried. :) Yes. that’s a joke but you get my point. Interesting article. 

    With respect. 

    1. You make some good points. However, I’m pretty sure he IS looking for attention. That is the point, isn’t it? Without attention, you never would have discovered his material, and he never would have influenced you. All of us are looking for attention in this social landscape.

      Just a thought.

    2. Kenny, I feel like I adequately address what Gary can do.  He can do whatever he wants.  I feel like that was pretty clear.

      More for discussion than for actually changing Gary’s mind.  He’s no idiot.

      1. Not sure about the value of the discussion. Was it because he did not respond to you. To create some controversy to get traction on your blog. Or really about the educating people in some way. It was pretty light to be straight. The problem I have with the post is the label you attach to people. Groupie is a disrespectful term. Yes he is no idiot, but when you tweet in conversation including his name, basically calling him out for not responding. I think you understood, you may indeed get a response. After all he is all social. He is well known for his response rate and knows how problems can escalate out of control on the social web so he stepped up to deal with your concerns. Gary is a big boy so I am sure he put his point across with respect. However the tone of your article appeared to me to be basically saying why does he do it and he does not live up to his brand promise. I read your article and for me it showed an element of disrespect for people who follow him and buy his books. You may think there is nothing wrong with it and you were pretty clear. I don’t agree. Some people may get some value from the comments. Hopefully they will ,but since you opened out the discussion. I thought I would add to the mix with my opinion as a follower. For some people who lack the confidence or strength of others. That smiley face may be the thing that helps them move towards their dreams. I think the lack of response from him would not be as bigger a deal because people don’t expect responses from people like Gary. But the fact he goes out of his way to do that and actively respond shows he knows the impact it may have on another individual. I don’t think that should be reduced to a negative. Obviously it is your real estate so you can write what you want. Conversely people who disagree can comment and that adds to the discussion. As I am sure you would agree. 

        1. Kenny, if you don’t value the discussion, why are you participating?

          For the record, Gary has responded to me and continues to engage with me days later.  I have plenty of respect for him and am not looking for controversy.  I’m looking for discussion and chances to learn from others.

          What @GaryVee:twitter is facing (lack of personal scalability) is something everyone with a personal community can learn from.  In many ways, he is someone we can learn from, both failures and successes.  
          I think part of the situation represents a failure.  I don’t see the problem with discussing it.
          I appreciate your thoughts.  

          1. I see no problem with discussing it. i am not suggesting there is a problem with honest discussion. Like I said. The problem I have was with the term Groupie. I have been clear about your right to discuss the issue how you see it. That is how people learn and grow. I was also clear about why I was participating. I am not trying put you in defensive mode. Discussion as you must expect is never one sided and there will be people like me who hold an opposite viewpoint. That I would say is healthy for you and all your readers me included. Clearly if you put it out there you have to expect what comes back. My comments are always made with respect for you. Straight talking may not be comfortable for any of us but for me it is how real relationships and connections are built with readers and that is why Gary Crushes it. I am sure you would agree that is something you want to do with your blogging and business built authentic relationships built on trust, respect and reciprocity.

          2. Not sure groupie is that bad of a word:

            group·ie n. Slang

            1. A fan, especially a young woman, who follows a rock group around on tours.

            2. An enthusiastic supporter or follower: a ballet groupie; a fashion groupie.

          3. You asked the question and answered it. If you don’t find it offensive you must be right. 

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