Last week the New York Times published a story about ghost twittering that made many Twitter fans stop dead in their tracks. (Ghost twittering is paying someone to tweet on your behalf.)
I understand why this concept upsets many social media advocates who preach authenticity (as do I), but in some cases is ghostwriting really so bad? I mean, does anyone really truly believe that @BarackObama is Barack Obama? Of course not, but during the 2008 election I didn't hear anyone shouting blasphemy. Instead I read stories and listened to newscasts about how innovative the Obama campaign was. How they were leading the way for future political campaigns.
So the question then is when is it okay to hire a ghostwriter? My personal rule of thumb, if you are a celebrity or business it might be okay to hire a ghostwriter. Obviously, I would encourage everyone to tweet on their own behalf. In Shaq's words, "It's 140 characters. If you need a ghostwriter for that, I feel sorry for you."
However, as long as one person is managing your account I do not take issue with the practice. After all, if I am hired to represent a company I do my best to integrate myself and become part of the team. More often than not I do feel part of the team, so why wouldn't I be allowed to tweet on behalf of company XYZ?
Isn't that what PR people are hired to do? Communicate on behalf of their clients? I realize this is n0t ideal, but as long as the company is posting quality content and continues to be interactive and as transparent as possible does it really matter if the message comes from the PR agency or the internal PR team?
In addition, as long as a celebrity's Twitter account doesn't try to pass itself off as the real person a ghostwriter might even be preferable! After all, a celebrity is a type of brand just like a company. In fact, a celebrity ghostwriter is likely to be much more responsive than an actual celebrity and more responsible. As in they will actually know when the next interview is taking place and at what time.
At the end of the day I too wish that each Twitter account, each blog post could be authentic and real. But let's face it, as different social networks become popular this is not always going to be possible. It's time for some of us to come back to reality, jump down from our high horse and appreciate some Twitter accounts for what they are.