What Happens When Social Media Goes Terribly Wrong? The Bacak Truth!

December 2, 2008

I finally have a horror story to show clients and CEO’s I consult with, as to what can truly go wrong with Social Media and your reputation.  Why it is so very important that you have a sound strategy before you enter social media and what are the ramifications of not being transparent, engaged in the communication, and being respectful of your audience.

Today, a self proclaimed “Powerful Promoter” made a drastic error in judgment.  He put out a press release about his own “success” in achieving Social Media Superstardom on Facebook and Twitter. I’m sure he was just looking to build up a bit of his own expertise, but he failed miserably in the process.  His claims met with derision, disbelief, and disgust.  In his own press release about himself, his language came across as a bit too egotistical to the mass readership and internet audience, and they decided to bring him back to earth a bit.

In Mark Bacek’s press release he claims; “Anyone can call their promotional abilities ‘powerful’ but I actually prove that mine are,” The problem is that this type of ego really contradicts the overall social media mentality which is basically “It’s not about you, it’s about the overall community” (as pointed out in Scott Baird’s (@mediapirate) blogpost here).

Mr. Bacek got his wish to go viral and become famous (infamous rather) in the social media communities. The uproar and backlash in Twitter alone can be seen here. It then went viral as Mr. Bacak was dubbed with the dubious title of “The biggest Douche in Social Media” (obviously not good for your company or brand) that went out on Digg and was sent up the flagpole with over 270 Diggs.

I feel very sorry for Mr. Bacak, he appears to otherwise be a nice guy, that committed a blunder that will cost him any and all online credibility.  The biggest learnings we can take away from this are:

1.       Marketing is no longer merely a declaration of your expertise, value, skills, product, it is a conversation.

2.       The community has just as much, if not more control than you of your brand

3.       It’s not about YOU it’s about EVERYONE

4.       PR & Marketing when done well online, will work

What have you learned from this?  Please leave a comment?



  1. The problem isn’t just that this guy is a social media failure.

    I did a bit of Googling and the guy seems to be a Grade-A scammer and get rich quick type. I blogged about it here, and I’ve love your input. It seems that this wasn’t just a mistake, but its what this guy does.


  2. Oh, what ironic justice it would be if this clown lost his credibility because of his stunt. Alas, karma takes a day off every now and then, and he’ll probably come out of this ahead. Life’s a bitch like that.

  3. It would be seriously unfortunate if this case study scared people off of social media. You were kind in your evaluations of his mistakes — which may lead people to believe a minor misstep can have them crucified like this character was. The issue was largely just how ridiculously POMPOUS this guy was.

    “A bit too egotistical”? Understatement.

    Not only was he EXTREMELY arrogant (plus all the things you mentioned), but his claims were ridiculous. After all that (all the “who the heck puts out a press release mentioning how popular they are?”)… if you look at his actual Twitter Score (what he was touting) it’s not even that impressive.

    More than any other example I’ve seen of people being crucified in social media… this particular case was less about “social media missteps” and more about literally being a douchebag.

  4. Kudos for focusing the discussion towards a few of the key principles of social media:

    “1. Marketing is no longer merely a declaration of your expertise, value, skills, product, it is a conversation.

    2. The community has just as much, if not more control than you of your brand

    3. It’s not about YOU it’s about EVERYONE”

    Some of the intensity around this has focused on his personality and the lessons, as you mention, are truly the key take away for understanding and learning from this. It’s a good reminder of what the value and focus of social media is and how important it is to play by those rules.

  5. Let’s focus on all sides if we are attempting to be honest and fair in our assessments. It is a group of people that expressed an opinion. This doesn’t mean it is overall consensus. It’s one group having one consensus. Also, are we going to learn our most meaningful lessons from people who vote someone a “douchebag” and are proud of it?

    Transparency is required on BOTH ends of a conversation. And a mob acts very differently from its individual parts (thank God for that).

    Matt Bacak issued a press release that some people had issue with. My question is this: what standards will we hold THOSE people to who so readily fling about their negativity?

    Oh sorry I forgot…negativity and destruction sells…my bad.

  6. @mattbacak tried to friend me today and I could see a hard sales pitch coming a mile away. His latest tweet at the time, “Things are getting crazy because Marketing Madness is around the corner. :-)” is obviously a pre-sales message. And he doesn’t follow anybody and has half the amount of followers that I earned the old fashioned way… through being a good dude.

    So he screwed up by not understanding the community. He wants to “teach” people how to use me for profit. Not cool.

  7. Wow, this makes things really interesting. I have vowed to never hire anyone egotistical or under 35 since Darren Lee (a 20 something generation “why” was escorted from our shop after resigning in shame. He still doesn’t get “the why” BTW.)

    With comments like, “the press release is just self-masturbatory drivel…” appearing everywhere, I am just glad we promote our clients and not ourselves.

    Is this why we are growing when so many shops are closing their doors? We actually listen to our clients and do what they want, not what some “creative” thinks will win an award.


  8. I Think social media is not a event, is a process and we are working in a collaborative medium.
    Everything about ego is out.
    Social Media have gurus but they became gurus because they share their expertise and their good ideas with the community. They have a special way to communicate…They are transparent and don’t advertise himself.

  9. […] was rapid and negative. Plenty of people have piled on including Scott Baird, Warren Sukernek, Chris Lower and Tris Hussey. The release has garnered over 310 votes under the title "The. Biggest. […]

  10. The first lesson users of Facebook should learn is the difference between private and public messages. I think that can get you (or your client) in more trouble than self-promotion.

    I agree with the author that social networking can be effective in building allies and clients, but it should be done carefully lest we step on the wrong toes.


  11. “1. Marketing is no longer merely a declaration of your expertise, value, skills, product, it is a conversation.

    2. The community has just as much, if not more control than you of your brand

    3. It’s not about YOU it’s about EVERYONE

    4. PR & Marketing when done well online, will work”

    You said it all right there and I thank you for that. 🙂

  12. […] MrChristoperL – What Happens When Social Media Goes Terribly Wrong? The Bacak Truth […]

  13. The reality is, his one press release has caused a bunch of blog posts to go up that are actually linking to him and making him more infamous if not famous. Whether or not he intend that effect, he is becoming more well known and can leverage that. Because news of his PR has gone viral, he could even claim that this was all part of his plan, even if it wasn’t.

  14. I have been following this story across the blogs and tend to agree with what is being said here. I think if anything, yes he may become well known because of this, but in a “Leave Britney alone” or “she bang” kind of way. Not necessarily someone you respect or take seriously. And at this point, not someone I would go to to help me promote my company.

  15. I am sad to see such derision and negativity because of one person’s press release–the method of which is frowned upon by the social community. Is this reason to call someone “d***e bag?

    Let’s say Matt, or anyone, is not familiar with how the social media world communes. Why not tell him so that others can learn, too. Why set this up for so much ridicule? If the community is here to help others first, is this helping?

    I fear you are intimidating many from entering this world with unspoken protocols–or, if they are spoken or written, why not publish where they are?

    I admit to being very confused upon entering the blogosphere this year. I searched for protocol and found very conflicting information. I reached out to ask what is the best way to do this, that and the other. Everyone had differing opinions.

    Some of these articles regarding Matt Bacak have been well-written and informative without clubbing the man. Thank you, from those I learned.

    Nothing was gained or learned from those who resorted to name-calling. The social media community has clearly shown how they have the power to bring someone down (saw that written).

    Let me venture out now more into this world and hold my breath hoping I don’t breach protocol.

  16. I agree with Lois- name calling or any personal attacks accomplish nothing. And I mostly ignore those comments. I also ignored the friends of Matt who just said we should leave him alone because he makes lots of money and has helped people. That didn’t move the conversation forward either.

    However there have been plenty of people that have spent more time explaining what may have gone wrong, why and how to fix it- this blog being one of those people. Better yet, if you don’t know the media in which you want to play spend time “watching” and get a feel for it.

    Looking around and watching some of the Twitter convos happening, it also looks like Matt is paying attention and moving in the right direction.
    If I am not mistaken it looks like Matt is even starting to reach out to some of the people who specifically laid out what went wrong with the PR and social media.

  17. Wow! I do viral marketing and will make sure to be really careful in the future. I agree; personal attacks do nobody any good. They just create a lot of unwanted and not so needed stress. Also, this is a form of cyberbullying which I fight hard to prevent. But a good point is made; social media is about a community, not a specific person. Have a good evening.

    Elizabeth Bennett

  18. What’s dangerous for professional promoters who use Twitter, etc. to promote themselves is that the social network is comprised of an ad hoc collection of unqualified prospects. Of course the terms “ad hoc” and “unqualified” mean here unfiltered, unsold, if not inadequately targeted network (those that do NOT have a relationship with the promoter).

    So when the promoter naturally espouses his “win” or marketing advantage, or “conquest” over that certain ad hoc group, the network feels “used”, because there has been no established emotional element beforehand.

    So rather than the ad hoc group “feeling” proud that one of “it’s own succeeded” (even if the tone of the victory speech is a tad pompous sounding, or even overstated) the ad hoc “community” cannot share in the joy, and therefore reacts negatively and overly critically.

    The remedy then is to first generate a consensus within that community of what one has accomplished, and then announce it to the world with gusto and aplomb.

    This is probably a bit simplistic, but the social network reflects a more democratic mindset than a highly refined “opt-in” group might represent to a promoter. As a result, the promoter needs to remember he’s not “preaching to the choir.”

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