June 21, 2016
Controversy flared up within the Marketing community website Inbound recently: A community thread asked the question “Would You Unfollow Your Favorite Influencer if you Found Out They Use Ghost Bloggers?”
The question’s worded to focus on the quality inherent to the ghost blogs: Are they still worth reading if they’re not from the famous name that’s promoting them? The thread’s answers came from a number of marketers and actual influencers who had faced those issues before. It’s a fascinating question that could be relevant to any tech startups interested in creating an industry-focused blog. Here’s a breakdown of the (many) different sides to the ghost blogging argument.
The questioner himself, Patrick Coombe is leaning away from accepting ghost blogging: “I don’t knock the hustle, but I’m not going to be a fanboy for someone like that.”
Cyrus Shepard has the top comment with a similar view:
“For the record, when I used to manage the Content Team at Moz, we generally wouldn’t publish authors to the blog who were known to use ghost writers (although I’m sure a few slipped through the cracks.) Doing so would go against the TAGFEE values of Authenticity and Transparency.
My personal take is, if you didn’t write it, don’t put your name on it. If you shared the writing, put both your names on it.”
“There is a time and place for ghost blogging. In my opinion, that time and place is not increasing the output of industry leaders. With these industry leaders, people tend to care about who is writing the piece just as much as they care about what is written.”
“For me, it depends on what the Influencer is trading in, and how they’re handling the pieces.
If I respect someone for their post-crafting or wicked writing skillz and they’re telling me how to write, I expect them to be writing. Commence pouting if they’re not.
If my favorite data whizzes, UX nerds or even some of my backendy content strategy folks don’t write their own blog posts? That garners a kind of ¯\_(ã)_/¯.”
Some raised questions about the basic concept at work — the assumption that ghost blogging was a total bait-and-switch, or that it was inherently inferior.
“But what if someone does a research (keyword, potential market and bla bla) and then assigns his ghost to write something. And he also proofreads, edits and decides whether to publish it.”
“Do I care that some of the top bloggers I admire use ghostwriters?
No, I could care less.
Do I still listen to Tiesto or Armin van Buuren even though they have teams of sound engineers and professionally trained pianists helping them churn out music?
“Would you be upset if you found out an influencer didn’t design his website? He probably told the web designer what he liked and what he wanted on the website, but he gave the job to someone who can do it better than him.
Content is the same. As long as the influencer is providing direction and reviewing the content I see no problem with it.”
The next commenter, Colin Newcomer, has the counterpoint: “How many influencers go around proclaiming they personally designed their website on every single page?” He sums up the entire discussion with his final line on the comment: “But I think it’s a very fine line.”
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