Really? We’re STILL Talking About Ghost Blogging?

What is it with these social media purists and ghost blogging? What exactly do they not understand?

Ghost blogging is a service that is provided by ghost writers. We transcribe interviews from our clients, get their approval for what we’ve written, and we post it to their blogs.

This is no more inauthentic than hiring a social media agency to run your social media campaign, or an ad agency to create your TV commercials. It’s no more inauthentic than private labeling/white labeling a product made by someone else — food companies do it all the time, and no one complains.

Avinash Kaushik makes a misinformed tweet about ghost bloggingMy friend, Doug Karr, recently wrote a post about Avinash Kaushik’s rather misinformed statement about “ghost blogging being the antithesis of everything social.”

Doug said:

It’s always interesting when someone with as much authority as Avinash throws out a rule like this. Not only do I disagree with Avinash, I know many, many companies who would disagree as well. Ghostblogging is not the antithesis of everything social… inauthenticity, dishonesty, and insincerity are the antithesis of everything social.

As a professional ghost blogger, I’m sick to death of people who paint ghost bloggers as some sort of moral leper, the used car salesmen of the social media industry. (Oops. There, now you’ve made me offend used car salesmen. Happy now?) These social media purists decry ghost blogging as being less than honest because CEOs of large corporations and small businesses don’t spend 1 – 2 hours a day crafting a single blog post.

“Oh, but if you were serious about it, you’d make the time,” they lilt, wagging their fingers at the slacker CEOs who whine that they’re “tired” after a 14 hour day. “Because social media is all about the conversation and community and the inherent good in other people.”

No it isn’t. Social media in the business world is all about making money. Businesses can’t pay their workers with conversations. You don’t appease shareholders with community. And their vendors don’t want to hear about all the good you’re finding in other people when they ask why you’re 60 days overdue.

If we followed the social media purists’ logic to its logical conclusion, we would not be allowed to use these other ghost-type services:

  • Businesses would have to produce their own ads, commercials, and graphics in-house. They could not hire an outside agency to do it. Or if they did, there would be a big disclaimer on it saying it was produced by that agency.
  • Software companies could not outsource their programming to freelance coders. They should do it all themselves.
  • Celebrities should not hire ghost writers to help with their books. They should be allowed to suck on their own.
  • Politicians would not be allowed to use ghost writers to write their speeches. They would have to mumble and fumble their way through every speech, no matter who they were. Or if they used a ghostwriter, they would have to interrupt their speech every 10 minutes with, “This speech was written by my ghost writer, Jeff Shesol.”

Ghost blogging is the last bastion of any kind of ghosting, where some purist thinks that we shouldn’t be allowed to do it because it’s “inauthentic.”

Do you know what’s inauthentic? Inauthentic is following fewer than 100 people while 25,000 people follow you on Twitter. f you’re in “the conversation” business, don’t you think you should have a conversation? Otherwise, you’re just holding a one-way broadcast with 25,000 people, and are showing that you’re not willing to listen to anyone else. That’s not authentic in the least bit.

Whether the purists like it or not, ghost blogging is going to only get more popular. As companies want to enter the social media marketing realm and realize they can’t, because they just laid off their best writers, they will look for other ways to gain that competitive edge. If they’re going to outsource their web design, their ad creation, and their strategy, why shouldn’t they outsource their writing too?

There are freelance writers in all other parts of business — marketing copy, TV scripts, radio scripts, ad copy, web copy, annual reports, press releases, white papers, grant proposals — so why is blog writing so different from all those other forms of ghost writing?

It isn’t. If you hire someone to write something for you, and you don’t stick their name on it, they’re a ghost writer. I don’t care if it’s marketing, advertising, or grants. They’re a ghost writer. No one is complaining about their inauthenticity or their non-transparency.

So the purists need to get off their high horse, learn how the world works, and accept the fact that ghost writers are skilled writers who are paid to provide a service for other people. And we’re going to be here for a while.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency He co-authored four social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (3rd ed., 2017, Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.

    Comments

    1. Hey Erik, this is a pretty nice piece! If I give you $100, will you take your name/photo/tagline off it and put mine up instead?

      The reason that social media purist get frustrated with ghostblogging is because they assume that every ghostwriter is actively involved in willful deception. Of course this isn’t the case. Everyone knows that politicians use speechwriters, that executives have communications experts write their memos, and that PR companies craft quotes for the media.

      Everybody knows that ghostblogging happens. The only problem is that some purists think that ghostblogging is lying. It’s not. Unless you want my hundred bucks.

    2. @Chuck – Would a grand slam by a DH be authentic? Would the four runs be honest?

      Seriously, if your social media advisor thinks the average CEO has nothing better to do than sit down, have a frappe and crank out a blog post while her firm is in the middle of a merger, negotiating a lawsuit settlement, launching a new line of products and cranking out the annual report, the social media expert has no sense of priority. CEOs need to do CEO things. Why do something for $675/hour when you can get it done for a lot less?

    3. Congratulations to all. I’m pleased to have been nominated. Glad to see the over 40 group get some recognition for our experience.

    4. Congrats to all. I’m pleased to have been nominated. Glad to see the over 40 get some recognition for our experience.

    5. Specialization is what makes our world go ’round. If we didn’t use Ghost Farmers or Ghost Ranchers, we’d still be spending our time carving our own tools out of wood and striving to feed ourselves. Instead, we outsource food production so we can do other things; and that has helped us create some amazing things. Any value that has been created in our world has come because someone has been able to outsource something they’ve needed to do.

    6. @Chuck, good point. I hate the DH rule. Not only is it not pure baseball, it allows the AL pitchers to hide behind their momma’s skirts.

      I don’t know if I would call it ghost batting though. I have to think about that for a while.

    7. Yep, people are still talking about it. Just like anything controversial, the argument will continue on. Case in point – the Designated Hitter. Is this ghost batting?

    8. “Businesses can’t pay their workers with conversations.” – I love that quote! It’s absolutely true… engagement is only a real engagement when you bought the ring and put it on the finger. Until you “engage”, you’re just “dating”.

    9. Yeah! So there! I must admit that this comment was necessarily written by me. I’ve yet to enjoy my first cup of coffee, so I’m somewhat out of my mind and these thoughts are just spillover from the other voices in my head.

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