Mitch Joel’s post about the Death of Social Media suggests that when we treat social media like a traditional marketing channel we’re killing the medium. I agree.
“The minute we (as a community) allow and accept traditional mass media tactics to pollute Social Media, is the minute that all is lost.”
He refers to the article about Ghost Blogging in the February issue of Entrepreneur magazine. They interviewed a few professional blogger/tweeters who service several clients.
For the last 100 years, ghost writing has been an acceptable PR activity. But we were in an era of one-way, mass communication. These were ghost-written articles that you reading a newspaper or magazine. You did not expect to have a one-on-one conversation with the author.
Social media has changed the rules of the game. It’s about having real conversations.
And when you are in a two-way dialogue with someone, you do expect to actually be speaking with the person you think you’re talking to. Social media is about transparency and an open conversation. Ghost blogging or tweeting is not a real conversation, and people predictably get upset when they discover they’ve been duped.
I totally get that some high profile people or execs are too busy to blog or tweet. But there is someone in the company or organization that is passionate about the business or product, writes well, has a lot to say, and will make a great blogger. Microsoft did not make Bill Gates their blogger – it was Robert Scoble. Who ever heard of Robert Scoble before he blogged for MS? And Robert Scoble never pretended to be Bill Gates.
And if you are a busy exec jotting down your thoughts and handing them off to a blogger, then why not say so? We’ll understand that. If Kinsey Scholfield blogs Chris Moneymanker’s poker tournaments hand-by hand, then it’s obviously not him tweeting, is it? He can’t play and tweet at the same time. But isn’t it just as interesting to have his ‘official’ tweeter standing right there and talking to him as he plays?
There are many services an agency or consultant can provide to a company or individual to help them improve their Social Media presence and engagement. Ghost writing is not one of them. ( I wrote about this as one of the trends in The Future of PR for 2010 )
Coach them on their writing, advise them on their content strategy, teach them how to find influencers and reach out correctly. Monitor mentions of the brand and help them measure the effectiveness of their Social Media activity. Be their “official” blogger, if you must. But don’t pretend to be them.
You can put their training wheels on and teach them to ride. But ultimately they have to ride this bicycle themselves.