In a lot of ways, this social media thing is like the Old West, and we’re all basically out in the wilderness, cutting our own paths where there are no roads, or trying to follow the barely worn trail of an explorer who’s come before us. Hello, Lewis and Clark.
Entrepreneurs, small businesses, and even the big corporations are eager to utilize the power of social media. It astounded me that all of my time fooling around online can now be considered experience on my resume. Web 2.0 has quite the cache.
While they can point to examples of marketing online that have boomed businesses and brought about coveted results, there’s really no fool proof formula. It’s not a tangible, why this worked for this person and the same thing fell short elsewhere... and that’s part of the allure of web 2.0 skills – it’s too wide open, too creative, too much of it says you have to be innovative to get noticed... so regular business folks are hiring other people to handle their facebook and twitter and blog accounts.
Ghost blogging’s been around forever. I’m not sure how many people were aware that there’s a large market out there for marketing and pr people (or writers who just need a little extra income) to step into this ghost social media market. Really it’s ideal for someone with a fiction writing background. Capture the voice of the company or person and speak as them online.
But how ethical is it?
Like everything, it depends on the exact scenario. For me, blogging or tweeting as a representative of a company is fine. I could do that, using my own voice or even someone else’s... what I can not do is pretend that I’m another living person.
I think readers or followers on twitter and facebook use these venues specifically because it opens up a window to talk to the actual person. If I knew that the editors and agents I follow weren’t the real people tweeting and blogging, that they passed it off to ghost web 2.0 people, I probably wouldn’t follow them. The point for me is the insider perspective into the industry and the ability to actually converse with people whose opinions and knowledge I respect. And hey, maybe their ghost tweeters would be just as knowledgeable, buuuut it smacks as unethical to me in that the readership is largely based on who you are and what you know.
The same would hold true for me with authors, or actors, and any specific person’s online persona. And I get the draw, there’s only so much time in a day and staying on top of your online platforms can be a pretty time-consuming job, more so if you have a lot of followers. But my answer to that would be not to use platforms that give the impression the reader is talking to you when they’re really getting your pr team. And the other thing I think it’s important to note – from what I’ve seen, pr teams suck at online marketing. Yes, they really really do. Tweeting and facebook and linkedin and even blogging – they don’t work for the hard sell. You can’t run a twitter account by constantly running 140 characters of infomercial. Nobody wants to spend their time there.
And that’s the thing. These venues work for personal interaction, or at least the illusion of personal interaction. When you take the person out of it, your readers can usually tell.
I think I might be too honest for a career in marketing. But I don’t see why marketing can’t be honest. Like I said, might not be the perfect spot for me.
So how about you guys? Would you consider blogging as another person or tweeting or any of the other social media stuff? Would you feel the same way if one of your favorite professional bloggers, authors or whatever, turned out to be ghost written?
See, it’s an interesting question for me because there’s such an odd fine line – I don’t have any problem with work for hire writing, that’s most of the writing I’ve done professionally. I don’t have any problem with ghost writers who do autobiographies or any other type of work really, but for some reason the social media thing crosses the line for me... maybe because the reader doesn’t expect interaction from the author of a book or article... How about you? Where’s your line – and how are you liking the wild wild west?