Twitter, the Friendly Ghost
Following your favorite celebrity on Twitter? Maybe not! While the whole world is a 'twitterin'...was it any wonder that a certain level of the elite twitterati would eventually find a way to game the system. The latest trend a foot is "Ghost Twittering." The term was coined to describe when someone, usually a celebrity, politician, sport figure or a corporate brand pays another person or persons to update their Twitter account on their behalf. The use of ghostwriters has been around in the literary world since literature was first penned. Now,it appears it is prevalent in Twitterdom as well. But, while it may make sense for our busy world leaders to farm out their tweets, when celebrities engage in this practice it really seems to be defeating the purpose.
According to a recent New York Times article: "When Stars Twitter, a Ghost May Be Lurking." 50 Cent who has now amassed over 224,600+ followers has employed Chris Romero, the director of the rapper's Web Empire to tweet out short pithy quips from his @50Cent address. Apparently the world famous rapper who can write and record lengthy rap liturgies is at a loss to occasionally post a 140 character message to his fan base.
Consequently 'pimping out your tweets" has become a common practice. Britney Spears who it appears is also too busy touring to tweet, just recently advertised for a writer to help her create content for her Twitter and Facebook accounts,and Kanye West told New York magazine that he has hired two people to microblog for him.
According to the same article,"an unabashed user of ghost twitterers is Guy Kawasaki, chief executive of alltop.com...(who) with more than 80,000 followers is full of praise for the two employees who enliven his Twitter feed,(and)are often found twittering away while he is on stage addressing a conference."
Sadly, the Dalai Lama was recently exiled from Twitter, when it was found that an unauthorized ghost twitterer was assuming the identity of His Holiness. While the fake Dalai Lama was tweeting quotes and legitimate data from the Dalai Lama's website, obviously impersonating a religious leader is not kosher and potentially bad karma! The Buddhist leader's new Twitter address has been reassigned to an "information-only" status under the new name of @OHHDLInfo and currently stands at 34,604 followers, with only 74 updates.
Recently Keith Olbermann, newscaster from MSNBC ranted that Twitter was the "worst person in the world" for allowing an unknown person to "perpetuate a fraud" by impersonating him on the service as "@keitholbermann." (which no longer exists). Here is Olbermann discrediting Twitter for allowing such a shameful action to take place:
It was an inevitability. As Twitter has grown in popularity, both as a networking and as a promotion tool, it has developed into an easy and enticing target for spammers. The common practice of automating the twittering process by using bots to promote or sell is also troublesome. Bots are similar to ghost writers as another entity spews out updates in the name of another person or company. For a business, the best way to attract a large following on Twitter is to be a brand people care about,in addition to building brand loyalty. Bots are easily detectable and distasteful to those that want to connect with a real live human being.
To that end, some corporate brands have successfully tread the twittering waters by manning their posts with actual company executives. ComcastCares is a case in point that I had a personal experience. Frustrated one evening when my On Demand movie channel kept failing, and after receiving no sound advice from their 800-customer center call center, I tweeted CustomerCares. To my amazement, I was pleasantly surprised when Frank Eliason out of Philadelphia not only returned my tweets in a timely fashion, but actually was able to reset both of my TV sets remotely to solve the problem.
Many Hollywood stars are opposed to the use of "ghost tweeters" as well. According to some celebrities, "ghost twittering" is disingenuous. So if you feel that the act of "ghost twittering" is making you lose your faith in humanity, perhaps one of Ashton Kutcher's recent tweets will provide you with a glimmer of hope that interaction is alive and well in the land of Twitter. ( Note: Could also be the reason why Mr. Kutcher has amassed over 594,000 followers)
Bottom line, I personally would rather see a poorly written tweet from a company CEO or a celeb, than a polished ghostwritten one, as long as that 140 characters reflected a real connection with one's followers. If this trend continues and twittering becomes more and more outsourced, transparency will disappear, and the SS Twitter will become nothing more than a ghost ship, lacking its original social networking rudder.
Now, let's hear from you...what are you thoughts on "Ghost Twittering?"