Caffeinated Marketing

Gettting through all the noise, one cup at a time

Principles Over Income? February 23, 2009

Filed under: Unemployed — jenharris @ 10:55 am

The following message is in response to someone wanting me to do some social media work for their clients:

 I think there is a way for me to refer you clients that want there status updated and blogs taken care of.

Here is my response that I will hit send as soon as I hit “publish” here:

I would love to help you and your customers out…but I don’t believe in ghost status updating or ghost blog writing.

I believe in teaching people how to do social marketing, not do it for them. It would be like me going to a face:face networking event & pretending to be them – not truthful nor believable…and to be honest, those people will be exposed. The truth comes out with social media. Those that choose to fake it will not succeed.

Sorry for the bluntness, I just have principles when it comes to this. If you want me to teach, monitor & help them succeed, then sign me up! But I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that I am basically lying to people about who I am. There is a difference between representation & doing someones work for them. Again, let me know what days/times you can get together this week & we can discuss further…just in case I read it wrong. thanks -jen

Am I wrong?  Am I writing my own ticket to waiting tables at IHOP?

How would you feel if you found out that Tac Anderson or Jeremiah Owyang doesn’t actually Tweet or blog their own stuff?   There is a difference between doing PR/marketing for someone & doing their work for them…right?  I don’t believe I am wrong here, insight from the older crowd is much appreciated.  🙂  Hello IHOP?


14 Responses to “Principles Over Income?”

  1. bcritchfield Says:

    You can Tweet or blog for someone without doing it dishonestly. I blog and Tweet for all of my biggest clients. I just do it as me, not as someone else. I usually Tweet as my client’s brand and when I write a blog, it says that the author is Brian.

    There are so many businesses that need someone to do it for them simply because they don’t have the man hours to do it on their own. Social media and networking take time. In addition, there are many clients that simply aren’t good writers and couldn’t write a blog without someone telling them what to write.

    The short answer to your post is that I agree, you should never ghost write in social media. However, there is nothing wrong with writing for a brand as you.


  2. Tac Anderson Says:

    Usually people just lack an understanding of what’s the right approach. I’ve found that educating them on what is appropriate and what are some better alternatives that still accomplish the same goals will usually do the trick. They get what they want, which is help being in the space and you don’t have to compromise your integrity. If they still don’t want to do what’s right, you don’t want to work for them anyway IMO.

  3. Jana Briggs Says:

    Hi Jen!

    I always think that if you have that ‘gut’ feel that you’re doing something wrong, you are. I agree with you for the most part on feeling like your betraying your principles.

    Having said that, I think it depends on what the company’s social media/blog strategy is and whether you’ve effectively influenced that strategy. A lot of companies don’t see the value in blogging about the stray customer that made a goofy request – it goes against their ‘we are everything to everyone’ mentality and they don’t want to tick off a potential customer by psuedo-bashing another.

    But, let me ask this: If you were employed by a company that had a current SM presence and part of your responsibilities were to assume the role of maintaining their existing strategy until you could slowly course correct, would you be offended? It’s ultimately the same thing, fill an existing need; develop the relationship; slowly course correct.

    Just my two cents. Good luck chica!

    ~ Jana

  4. I think you’re right, Jen. SM is all about an individual’s perspective and opinions. You can’t convey that for another person. The idea is to educate clients on SM and the necessary tools so that they can do it themselves.


    PS. You can still Tweet remotely at IHOP… 😉

  5. Cheryl Says:

    Are they a “they themselves” or are they an organization? That makes a big difference as to the voice.

    If a “they themselves,” what is the issue? Do they feel inarticulate? What’s behind their decision.

    I am getting that this is a middle-person you’re conversing with but I feel I want to know more detail.

    Best wishes.

  6. I agree with Brian, as long as you are upfront about the fact you are the author, I’m okay with you representing the other company’s brand in their blogs. But I would certainly draw the line at status updates!

  7. Kevin Bourke Says:

    Trust your gut; it’s telling you good things. That said, I think it’s also very good practice to come back to a prospective client with: here’s what you’ve asked of me, here’s what I will do, but here’s what I will not do (and why). You may find mutual purpose, land some new business, but do it on your terms and never compromising your values.

  8. Steve Miller Says:

    Since you asked me to comment, I assume you include me in the older crowd…

    Putting that aside, I think you need to go with your gut. I don’t necessarily see this as an ethics issue or even one of principal. It’s simply how you want to do business. For example, I’ve set up my own set of published Rules that all prospective clients must agree to: I’ve been firm about following these, even firing clients who break them. Yes, it’s cost me money (difficult to swallow sometimes), but it’s also helped me sleep a lot better!


  9. jenharris Says:

    You guys are great!
    I think this is a very worth while discussion that people need to pay attention to when either entering into SM or selling SM.
    Honesty is number one and if everyone follows that little Golden Rule, I think all will turn out.

  10. Brett LaDove Says:

    I agree with most of the sentiments above…in that I think ‘it depends’ on how you were to do it.

    I do think that within the relative newness of social there is gap with regard to cultural and ethical norms having yet to be established.

    If we were to look at history as an example though…we might find some examples that are not to far off. For example, it has for a long time, been common practice for corporate executives and politicians to have communication departments that write speeches, memos etc…. on a specific person’s behalf, — ‘in their voice’. This is not generally considered unethical, nor does it need to be explained, why, because it is widely understood….and that’s where things different here.

    The topic of ghost blogging reminds me of when they first started showing more traditional product commercials in the movie theaters. At first people boo’d, and then it rapidly became a more common and accepted occurrence.

    You may have good reason not to participate in the this early stage of social media ghost blogging, but I suspect in due time there will be some segment of the business/government population where this too becomes a regularly ‘outsourced’ or delegated function. Until a norm is well established though, there may be some risks in blazing trails here.

  11. Ron Says:

    Meh, in higher ed, the President never signs their own letters by and large. It’s just an extension of the brand, I think.

    What you’re talking about, is more direct and reaches the customer in a much more grassroots way. I think there’s a place for that, too.

    The question of accessibility and making people want to engage in these discussions rather than “outsourcing it” is a question worth exploring…

  12. Kevin Blake Says:

    If I were these “clients” I would be worried for my business if I had someone else write my blog and twitters under my name.
    The public are not a forgiving bunch if they thank they have been duped.
    Anyone else remember the Milli Vanilli fiasco? 🙂

  13. jenharris Says:

    Funny how things happen.
    I wrote this post yesterday & I have read a number of articles in the past 24 hours that are addressing the same question of ethics in ghost writing in this new age of communication.
    I urge you to read the following one that is by far the best.
    Thank you everyone for your great responses & encouragement to stick to my beliefs.

  14. I agree with you Jen, with the caveat that if a blog or tweet is designed to be a community voice and makes that fact very clear then I see no problem in multiple contributers. However, to your specific point, I’m no fan of ghost writing.

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