Home How Do You Feel About “Ghost Twittering?”

How Do You Feel About “Ghost Twittering?”

In this morning’s New York Times, there’s an interesting article about the new trend of “ghost Twittering.” If you don’t know what that means, it’s when someone, usually a celebrity, politician, or a “personal brand” of some sort, pays another person or other people to update their Twitter account on their behalf. This “ghost writer” of tweets thus becomes a “ghost Twitterer.” While it may make sense for someone like U.S. President Barack Obama to farm out Twitter updates to staff (he has bigger tasks to focus on than tweets), when individual celebs and micro-celebs engage in this practice it seems a bit disingenuous. Is it really so hard to post 140 characters every now and then?

Celebs on Twitter

Because Twitter is apparently the hot new marketing tool for everyone from celebrities to businesses, the number of high-profile Twitterers has been climbing with every passing day. Today on Twitter, you can find Hollywood celebrities, musicians and bands, micro-celebs, politicians, and others who are tweeting their every passing thought.

But in many of those cases, the person actually doing the twittering is a staff member or other paid hire whose job it is to update the Twitter account. The NYT article mentions how 50 Cent on Twitter isn’t really 50 Cent – it’s Chris Romero, the director of the rapper’s web empire. Another high-profile example of a famous Twitter user is Britney Spears, whose account, ironically dubbed “The Real Britney,” is maintained by a team whose members sign their tweets by name so you know who actually wrote them. Of course, even the ones signed “Britney” are not typed in by the star herself, they’re just her words.

But other celebs on Twitter are themselves. Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, for example, seems to have a personal obsession with the medium that has even led to chance encounters with fellow Twitterers when he’s out and about.

Yet as Twitter transforms itself from conversation platform to marketing vehicle, we have to wonder if it loses a bit of its luster. If you never really know who is on the other end of your tweet, can you ever really have a genuine conversation?

Companies on Twitter vs. Personal Brands

Some would argue that “brands” on Twitter (be they companies or celebs) don’t need to be all that personal… but that feels wrong somehow. Wasn’t the whole point of “social media” to enable companies to come out from behind the marketing and PR babble and engage in “real” conversations with their customers?

At least when the big automotive company Ford twitters, we know who the man is behind the curtain. Can you say the same about the individual celebs and micro-celebs you follow on Twitter?

By allowing teams and ghost writers to “fake tweet” for celebs, it seems as if we’re going back to the old ways of marketing, albeit on a new platform. That’s not social media, that’s the PR department hijacking a new media tool.

In the case of a company, having a person (or people) Twitter on behalf of the business makes sense. But when the “company” is an individual (aka 50 Cent), having the “hard work” of tweeting subbed out to others seems disingenuous. It also reinforces our image of celebrities as people who are just too busy and important to do anything themselves… even type 140 characters.

So, how do you feel about “ghost Twittering”? You can comment here to let us know or join this previous discussion on FriendFeed.

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