Ghost-Tweeting: How Legit Is It?

Ghostwriting has been a staple of business and academia for ages, and it’s something most people seem to have grown comfortable with. True, it is a bit distasteful to think that a high-profile executive or professor received a byline for something authored by his/her assistant, but then we think: They spent many years ghostwriting for others, and then many years on top of that writing their own thought-leadership pieces, so they’ve put in their time. Or something like that.

Then blogs made their grand debut, and senior professionals hesitantly began dipping their toes into the conversation cesspool. With some notable exceptions, though, these executives were blogging vicariously through their communications staff, which was actually responsible for drafting and, after a quick once-over from the “author,” posting the missive. At first, we the people were dismayed, as this behavior flew in the face of all that blogging represents: transparency, authenticity, openness, etc.

But then many of us were reminded of the time constraints placed on these senior executives, not to mention the red tape created by legal departments and similar types of bureaucracy. So came another divide: On one hand, we admonish the act of ghost-blogging, while on the other, we agree to look the other way and, in some cases, even participate in it ourselves. Right or wrong, the point is moot: It’s a reality.

Now, though, we have Twitter, the micro-platform that packs a big communications punch. Of course, many executives now participate in the tweet-o-sphere, be it out of enjoyment, pressure or the fear of being left out. Even big-time celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore tweet, and—at least most people are inclined to believe—they do it without the help of any assistance. But is the same true for senior executives?

I’m willing to venture an educated guess that, while there may be some C-suite professionals tweeting on their own, there are just as many who rely on ghost-tweeters to maintain their Twitter presence for them. This is the point at which I can no longer suspend disbelief. Honestly, is 140 characters really too much to expect to come straight from the horse’s mouth? Or am I—someone who is pro-ghostwriting and grudgingly accepting of ghost-blogging—being a hypocrite?

By Courtney Barnes

  • Steve Goldstein

    In this week’s New Yorker, Larry King says that he has somebody handling his “Twicker” account. He says he dictates the twicks…I’ll bet there are still plenty of CEOs who don’t even use computers.

  • Ella Bee

    Ghost-Tweeting is okay as long as you are well-versed on the subject you are tweeting about for your clients. But then, how effective is connecting with other Twitter profiles when you are really connecting with other pr people?

    That is something to think about. Thanks for this post.

  • Laura Bower

    Ghost-tweeting defeats the whole purpose of Twitter — it’s a real-time, transparent, authentic conversation. If you’re not the actual tweeter, than the account should have a corporate name rather than an individual’s name. Otherwise, it’s misleading at best, unethical at worst.

  • Mike Myatt

    Ghost-tweeting is a matter of personal preference…it works for some and not others. While I choose to author my own material, I have no problem with those that tweet by proxy. I have a detailed post on this topic which can be read here: