is ghost tweeting ever OK?

ghost-tweet-twitter

Katie Moffat posted a really interesting question Twitter this morning for PRs regarding the etiquette of ghost tweeting and its got everyone joining in on the discussion. The conversation focused on is it ok to tweet on clients behalf without declaring it?

For generations PR have ghost written articles and press releases for clients but I think twitter in particular is impersonating someone’s voice, not simply writing up their opinion. I wouldn’t phone a journalist and pretend to be a client, or take a customer service/sales call and pretend to work for the client’s company so the same rules apply on twitter in my opinion. However, setting up the process for a client, running their RSS feeds, training them on how to use Twitter is all perfectly acceptable.

To me it is a question of openness and I always like to know who I am talking to and assume others feel the same.

Here are the responses Katie has received so far….what do you think?

DannyWhatmough @robin1966 @katiemoffat I agree with Robin half a minute ago from TweetDeck
Mer_16_small_normal michaelblowers @katiemoffat does it also matter what type of tweeter – OK if a corporate entity not so good if pretending to be the CEO? 18 minutes ago from TweetDeck
Clanger_normal robin1966 @katiemoffat reckon you can’t impersonate someone but if running a brand twitter feed then that’s different 20 minutes ago from Twitterrific
Profile_pic_bigger_bigger_normal jordanstone @katiemoffat i agree. that’s certainly the best approach. but there is room for PR to be involved, and help manage things 22 minutes ago from twhirl
2341_515654005920_283900112_1103734_4390_n_normal LitmanLive @katiemoffat I have ghost tweeted before so looking at this from both sides. I was fully immersed in the brand and it’s values at the time. 28 minutes ago from web
3059_186808815569_755860569_6492630_4819483_n_normal qwghlm @katiemoffat Good point – as Twitter can be used for variety of messages, maybe that means no clear cut answer? 31 minutes ago from Tweetie
Profile_pic_bigger_bigger_normal jordanstone @katiemoffat poor example on my part perhaps. point was though if we can manage other comms channels, or draft other comms content, why not? 32 minutes ago from twhirl
Jens-green-square_normal jenslapinski @katiemoffat wrong 35 minutes ago from web
3059_186808815569_755860569_6492630_4819483_n_normal qwghlm @katiemoffat As a parallel – adverts don’t disclose which agency came up with them. Nor do we expect them to. Higher standard for PR? 36 minutes ago from Tweetie
Profile_pic_bigger_bigger_normal jordanstone @katiemoffat chiming in. if you can run a press office on their behalf, or pen a byliner/press release, why not [jointly] manage a profile? 40 minutes ago from twhirl
Img_0770_normal mseasons @katiemoffat Sorry, I meant agree with the “if you’re well-briefed and have a good boundaries of what you can do then it’s awesome” part 41 minutes ago from digsby
Dsc05000_normal dr_whom @katiemoffat @mseasons kind of, I just don’t see that if it’s someone close to the person why it matters? 42 minutes ago from TweetDeck
Karen_normal karenbryan @katiemoffat Would you ghost tweet for client? Could PR agency do better job than client? As long as tweets didn’t come over as merely spin about 1 hour ago from web
2341_515654005920_283900112_1103734_4390_n_normal LitmanLive @katiemoffat Theoretically think you always have to disclose w/ talking about a client. In practice it’s evidently not always so clear cut. about 1 hour ago from web
Blonde-hair_normal bmcmichael @EbA @katiemoffat Yes but not in disguise….openness is key. Researching/setting up tools is fine…that’s just process…or plumbing about 1 hour ago from dabr
Img_0770_normal mseasons @katiemoffat Yes, of course. With two of our clients, we’re doing Twitter training along with, so we’re Tweeting *with* them instead of for. about 1 hour ago from digsby
Img_0770_normal mseasons @katiemoffat Chiming in if that’s ok? I agree with @dr_whom, but aim is always to have the client take over, esp. if it’s a personal account about 1 hour ago from web
Rflogo_normal RuderFinnUK @katiemoffat dodgy depends on you interpret the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 around professional best practice about 1 hour ago from web
Dsc05000_normal dr_whom @katiemoffat I wouldn’t expect it to be him but I’d expect it to be someone v. close to him. about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Marc_at_the_river2_normal giggsthelegend @katiemoffat not sure it is right, to me tweeting is like a personal conversation – ghost tweeting is like impersonating someone about 1 hour ago from Tweetie
Eb_twicpic2jpg_normal EbA @katiemoffat I don’t claim to have the answer but I think there are times when it’s ok to ghost tweet about 1 hour ago from Tweetie
Dsc05000_normal dr_whom @katiemoffat would you really read a Virgin feed thinking Branson is tweeting though? Would it matter? I’d be alarmed if he was! about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Blonde-hair_normal bmcmichael @katiemoffat Would we turn up to media briefings or sales meetings pretending to be the client? No..and the same rules apply with tweets IMO about 1 hour ago from web
Dsc05000_normal dr_whom @katiemoffat but isn’t hiring an expensive and brilliant writer (me) to do it for them a way of taking it on? I think so. about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Ghost_by_laurna_normal ghostwhisperers @CMRLee @katiemoffat ghost blogging/tweeting stimulates opinion with no ‘winner’ to any discussion. Do what you .. http://bit.ly/4fVcZL about 1 hour ago from twitterfeed
Neville09-190x242_normal jangles @CMRLee @katiemoffat ghost blogging/tweeting stimulates opinion with no ‘winner’ to any discussion. Do what you believe is right. about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Dsc05000_normal dr_whom @katiemoffat …it properly, so why not? @topfife lives in a dream world and when I next see him I will arm-wrestle him into submission. about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Me_normal tommalcolm @katiemoffat I hope you’ll be writing that blog post yourself 🙂 about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Chrisleects_normal CMRLee @jangles @katiemoffat in addition – http://bit.ly/yfT1f about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Dsc05000_normal dr_whom @katiemoffat if you’re well-briefed and have a good boundaries of what you can do then it’s awesome. Most companies don’t have time to do… about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Dsc05000_normal dr_whom @katiemoffat I ghost tweet so I have a vested interest in this – personally I think it’s the same as getting someone to write a PR for you. about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Chrisleects_normal CMRLee @jangles @katiemoffat ghost blogging/tweeting must be worth a fortune to the PR industry as a service. will the industry vote against it? about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Dscf0113_normal RichMillington @katiemoffat Agree, my thinking is if you’re happy to read ghost-written autobiographies, then is ghost-tweeting so bad? or ghost-blogging? about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Neville09-190x242_normal jangles @katiemoffat also read Paul Seaman’s contrary opinion on his blog. I disagree but his points are well argued. http://bit.ly/Xd7Td about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Chrisleects_normal CMRLee @jangles @katiemoffat whether ghost blogging/tweeting is right or wrong, it must be worth a fortune to the PR industry as a service about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Jtblue_normal JThomlinson RT @katiemoffat @drewb I agree. You should always be transparent! Never have any hidden ulterior motives… about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Wadds_normal wadds @katiemoffat We’re starting to share feeds with clients. Pros and cons are a longer conversation than a tweet about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Jtblue_normal JThomlinson RT @drewb @katiemoffat I’m having the same dilemma. Should PR agency’s poll Twitter on behalf of clients – or should the client do it? about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Me-now_normal kevindixie @katiemoffat I once had cabinet minister following me, tweeting all the time, when the PR team behind it mis-tweeted..was revealing about 1 hour ago from web
Neville09-190x242_normal jangles @katiemoffat without disclosure, totally wrong. http://bit.ly/1MCqJ (Whether it’s effective communication is an entirely different matter) about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
N504328204_860360_7241_normal PBizzle @katiemoffat True, but the similarity is that a PR person is shaping the communication – effectively putting the words in clients’ mouths about 1 hour ago from web
Dscf0113_normal RichMillington @drewb @katiemoffat Just curious If you’re against ghost-tweets, are you also against 99% of autobiographies? Where’s the line? about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
2a43b85bf6b9af7ed739a8657dcf53e4_normal jedhallam @katiemoffat I think that even Broadcast stuff should have a name attached to it about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
2a43b85bf6b9af7ed739a8657dcf53e4_normal jedhallam @katiemoffat Must always be transparent, Twitter is too intimate to be done without personality, and that persona needs a name behind it… about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Vero_sxsw-1_normal vero .@katiemoffat I hasten to add: @campaignmonitor tweets are all from internal staff, but companies could use that for PR folks too I reckon about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
N504328204_860360_7241_normal PBizzle @katiemoffat Doesn’t matter – PR agencies write all the releases, briefing docs, statements, messaging docs, byline articles as it is about 1 hour ago from web
Vero_sxsw-1_normal vero .@katiemoffat No need to shout it every msg, but bio shd say who tweets. Best approach is “team behind our tweets” bg like @campaignmonitor about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
Drewb_twitter_normal drewb @katiemoffat What do you mean by ghost tweeting? PR has a long history of writing on behalf of people / companies, in right and wrong ways! about 1 hour ago from web
Eb_twicpic2jpg_normal EbA @katiemoffat Tricky one. A few thoughts I jotted down on it last week: http://bit.ly/2sSmrF about 1 hour ago from Tweetie
N504328204_860360_7241_normal PBizzle @katiemoffat Corporate/brand accounts – yes. Personal accounts – definitely not. Depends what the feed is for really. 🙂 about 1 hour ago from web
Untitled-1_copy_normal peteyoung RT @katiemoffat: Would be interested in hearing everyone’s views on PR agencies ghost tweeting for clients (without transparency) – righ … about 2 hours ago from TweetDeck
Colinone_normal _Colin_ @katiemoffat imo not much difference between and agency tweeting or a member of staff so long as the tweet is true to the brand values etc about 2 hours ago from web
Abigail-lr_normal AbigailH @katiemoffat we would not for one of our clients. Would certainly guide them through the learning process tho’. You? about 2 hours ago from TweetDeck
Mememe_normal wehttam @katiemoffat for the most part: id rather not read them, only tweeting on behalf I agree with is http://twitter.com/drew/status/2707136867 about 2 hours ago from Seesmic
Photo_172_normal johnnyLander @katiemoffat So wrong! Twitter is all about the person isn’t it ? about 2 hours ago from TweetDeck
Tim_difford_2_normal timdifford @katiemoffat it’s the modern day equivalent of ‘secretarial’ autographs signed by the Beatles’ office staff. about 2 hours ago from TwitterFon
A_head_2_normal topfife @katiemoffat ghost-tweeting is bad in any circumstance. It’s supposed to be a direct, open & honest communication tool – not a brand booster about 2 hours ago from Tweetie

Wednesday 22nd July 2009
michaelblowers 11 min ago
@katiemoffat does it also matter what type of tweeter – OK if a corporate entity not so good if pretending to be the CEO? from TweetDeck
robin1966 13 min ago
@katiemoffat reckon you can’t impersonate someone but if running a brand twitter feed then that’s different from Twitterrific
jordanstone 16 min ago
@katiemoffat i agree. that’s certainly the best approach. but there is room for PR to be involved, and help manage things from twhirl
LitmanLive 21 min ago
@katiemoffat I have ghost tweeted before so looking at this from both sides. I was fully immersed in the brand and it’s values at the time. from web
qwghlm 24 min ago
@katiemoffat Good point – as Twitter can be used for variety of messages, maybe that means no clear cut answer? from Tweetie
jordanstone 25 min ago
@katiemoffat poor example on my part perhaps. point was though if we can manage other comms channels, or draft other comms content, why not? from twhirl
jenslapinski 28 min ago
@katiemoffat wrong from web
qwghlm 29 min ago
@katiemoffat As a parallel – adverts don’t disclose which agency came up with them. Nor do we expect them to. Higher standard for PR? from Tweetie
jordanstone 33 min ago
@katiemoffat chiming in. if you can run a press office on their behalf, or pen a byliner/press release, why not [jointly] manage a profile? from twhirl
mseasons 35 min ago
@katiemoffat Sorry, I meant agree with the “if you’re well-briefed and have a good boundaries of what you can do then it’s awesome” part from digsby
dr_whom 35 min ago
@katiemoffat @mseasons kind of, I just don’t see that if it’s someone close to the person why it matters? from TweetDeck
karenbryan 39 min ago
@katiemoffat Would you ghost tweet for client? Could PR agency do better job than client? As long as tweets didn’t come over as merely spin from web
LitmanLive 39 min ago
@katiemoffat Theoretically think you always have to disclose w/ talking about a client. In practice it’s evidently not always so clear cut. from web
bmcmichael 41 min ago
@EbA @katiemoffat Yes but not in disguise….openness is key. Researching/setting up tools is fine…that’s just process…or plumbing from dabr
mseasons 42 min ago
@katiemoffat Yes, of course. With two of our clients, we’re doing Twitter training along with, so we’re Tweeting *with* them instead of for. from digsby

7 comments

  1. PaulieA · July 22, 2009

    people get so precious about Twitter don’t they? Twitter means different things to different people and isn’t ‘supposed’ to be used in just one particular way. As PRs we write by-lines, whitepapers, blogs and more in the name of clients, so why not a Twitter feed? As long as there is openness (ie not pretending to be someone else) it really doesn’t matter.

  2. Ged Carroll · July 22, 2009

    Just because people do poor practice in other arenas doesn’t make ghost tweeting right. Right off to do some ghost tweeting and then send some phishing emails to some bank customers.

    Secondly brands don’t do social media, people do. I really like @guyatcarphone as a great example. I know we use @ruderfinnuk, but I see ‘brand’ ids as much more like an aggregated feed or news portal to use a web 1.0 parlance. Controversial but there you go

    • Rebecca McMichael · July 22, 2009

      I’d say rather than being controversial Ged, you share the opinion of many on twitter this morning. It is and should be about people and to have an open conversation, you have to know who you’re having it with.

  3. Danny Whatmough · July 22, 2009

    I think both Ged and PaulieA make good points. No, there aren’t any rules and people do get precious about these things. But pretending to be someone you’re not is just wrong, plain and simple. Ghost tweeting on behalf of a CEO, for example, is a very bad route indeed.

    But, as Ged highlights, there are other ways that brands are using Twitter to build up awareness and visibility that doesn’t rely on personal connections. There is certainly a role here for PRs to guide the conversation and help companies to establish their strategy on Twitter and elsewhere.

    • Rebecca McMichael · July 22, 2009

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Danny – much appreciated. I agree with you….there is such a big role for PR in the whole social media space but impersonating our client’s ain’t on the list….

  4. katie moffat · July 23, 2009

    Hi
    I finally got around to blogging my thoughts. It’s an interesting area. And one on which I think there will be much more to say.
    http://prnowandthen.typepad.com/pr_nowandthen/2009/07/whos-tweeting.html

    Katie

  5. Pingback: Public Relations’ Role in the Corporate Twittersphere - C. Blohm & Associates, Inc. - Public Relations for the Education Industry

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