Monday, August 24, 2009

Are Ghost Blogging and Shadow Tweeting Unethical? Don't Make Me Laugh.

Last week, Mark W. Schaefer posted an interesting blog titled “Can You Outsource Authenticity?” Mark has been asked by a number of clients to blog -- and even tweet -- for them. Early commentators to Mark’s post opposed opposed the notion of ghost-blogging, let alone shadow-tweeting. “Don’t. You. Do it.” somebody said. Another person said, “No fakers.”

Marketers need to rethink the 2009 knee-jerk definitions of authenticity swirling around social media.

Copywriters and fundraisers routinely write letters over somebody else's signature. CEOs employ speechwriters, slideshow creators, and PR people. Ghost-blogging is neither special nor different. More to the point, why would any CEO waste energies writing a blog when professional writers can draft for approval?

Shadow-tweeting isn't cut and dried, either. Actors, impersonators, comics, and even spokespersons routinely and successfully "speak" on behalf of others. A whole slew of "stand-ins" have taken to tweeting on behalf of the characters on Man Men and we beg for more.

I see social media maxims about “transparency” and “full disclosure” bending to the reality TV model where "telling all" stands in for honesty and integrity. Let's not get confused. The "Housewives" of New Jersey and Atlanta have impressively demonstrated that transparency itself can lie.

Saying "no" to corporate deception isn't brain surgery. If it smells like deception, it is. That's why, before I blog or tweet for a client, I'm asking myself two questions:

1. Am I thoroughly informed about my client's business?
2. Am I ethically and philosophically comfortable expressing the viewpoint my client wants to communicate?

If the answer is two-times "yes," I'll consider the job. How about you?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

No comments: