Confronting the Ghost: Truth in blogging and bylines
On the heels of our post on transparency and ethics in social media marketing, today we examine the hotly contested phenomenon of ghost blogging. This is where a ghostwriter is employed by a company or brand to write blog posts, Tweets, Facebook updates and other public communiqués under the client’s name.
Some argue that the practice is unethical because it obscures the truth behind the byline. But we at Media Needle argue that the byline matters less than the truth behind the client. It’s easy to forget that autobiographical books “written” by famous people — books you likely have read — usually have ghostwriters, some acknowledged, but most not. Do those books and the fascinating life stories within them suddenly ring hollow because they were not penned by the subject?
Of course they don’t. Not everyone can be born a captivating writer, and a ghostwritten book is always the result of a lengthy collaboration between writer and subject to make sure that the book’s voice is authentic and events are represented accurately. It’s no different for ghost blogging, whose goal is to also be authentic, accurate and, most of all, engaging. This is where a professional writer comes in — to convey a client’s views in a way that engages and attracts readers and, ultimately, grows a following.
In social media marketing, ghost writing is a common practice (and, in fact, a burgeoning field). It is only dishonest when it misrepresents the brand, but when used correctly, it services the brand by selling it better than the “writer” behind the byline could. Most important is that the content always be vetted by the client prior to publication. And, in the interest of transparency, the existence of the ghost blogger should never be denied, but rather understood to be a part of a larger marketing plan that aims to always put the client or brand’s best face forward.
It is the stylist behind the fashion icon celebrity, the producer behind the superstar’s platinum album, the speechwriter behind the president’s most memorable speeches. No one can do everything him or herself, which is why Media Needle advocates the use of ghost bloggers who can create compelling, engaging and well-written content that accurately reflects a brand’s values. For more information, contact us.