Is it OK to fake your tweets?


The other day a prominent Twitter celebrity was kind enough to re-tweet one of my blog posts.  It was not Kim Kardashian.  At least that time.  Any way, because of his power and influence, my link was promptly re-tweeted by 12 of his followers.  Wow, that’s influence right?

Only problem is, in that period of time, my server was down. None of them could have possibly read my blog post.

Welcome to the world of fake tweeting.

How often does this happen?

I’m guessing more than we could possibly realize.  How many people are either tweeting without reading … or not even tweeting themselves at all?

Tweeting — The Industry

I recently was asked by a well-known business professional to help them get started on Twitter.  The person had been flailing about and frustrated, simply broadcasting news about their business and products.  It was mind-numbing.

After a couple of hours of training and re-setting her social media mindset, her tweets were transformed and the engagement was much more successful. Then suddenly the whole thing flopped again. She went back to broadcasting mindless self-serving tweets. I scolded the person and asked what happened. “Oh I went on vacation and turned my tweeting over to the ad agency.”

This is happening everywhere. Fake tweeting for people has become a cottage industry. I think it’s safe to say that a high percentage of tweets are disconnected from real people, broadcasting links that were never read and are little more than the results of automated programs.

Again, it’s impossible to have data on this, but based on my experience, I think the problem is also growing exponentially.

And maybe I contribute to the issue, too.  I do “blind tweet” under one circumstance: If somebody I know well and trust completely asks me to tweet a link as a favor, the link is time-sensitive, and I simply don’t have time to read it first. So yes, in a way, I’m part of the problem.

Does anybody care?

Or is it a problem at all?  Isn’t there a place on Twitter for everybody?  Who made the “rules” any way?

Don’t you always have the option to un-follow people who are obviously not engaging as themselves?  Are we simply being close-minded and elitist by claiming that Twitter is all about “the conversation” and “authenticity?”  Do you tweet without reading? Fake your tweets?

I have my own views, but I’d like to hear your take on it.  The comment section is yours …

Oh, and if you’d like to read about my stormy relationship with Kim Kardashian, click for the scoop! : )


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  • Great posting, Mark. I very rarely retweet without going to the link, and I’ll only do this with someone I know and trust, as you do. I think there’s more “fake” liking on FB. Frequently, I’ll like a post without reading the link, just to show support. Sometimes I go back and read the link, and sometimes I don’t. A blogger friend made a statement a while back about people who liked her FB posting, but then not going on to read her blog post. If people would only realize how much comes through on our walls, that it’s impossible and unrealistic to expect everyone to read all postings. This is an issue that’s really been bothering me lately about FB, that I am now considering posting something today. Too many people are posting multiple posts, one right after the other, constantly throughout the day, and it’s annoying the hell out of me. If these posts were meaningful or relevant, I wouldn’t be so annoyed. But most of them are either news that I can read on my own time elsewhere, self-serving idiotic dribble that I would be embarrassed to post, or causes or opinions that I have no interest in being thrown at me constantly. Anyway, you’re one of the good guys. You post moderately and relevantly and I thank you!

  • Joey Strawn

    Mark, like you I’m a big proponent of the “If I’m not there, there’s no Tweeting going on” mindset. It may seem like I’m always on Twitter and the truth is that I’m on it quite a big, but every single engagement or Tweet is sent by me and has a purpose.

    I’ve yet to set up ghost tweets to go out while I’m sleeping or hired someone to keep my status updated with the most relevant news or Mashable post. I use Twitter as an engagement tool and for me, if I’m not engaging, I’m not there.

  • Yes, people care. Yes, fake tweets are discovered, and yes, this is damaging to the brand you have built.

    No, fake tweeting is not acceptable.

  • Great insight Karen. Maybe it’s a cross-platform epidemic. If it was occurring at schools then I could say it was an academic epidemic endemic to pandemics. Sorry. Must be the cold medicine. Thanks for the great comment!

  • Yup, that’s where I am too but I’m wondering if we’re becoming a scarce breed? Thanks Joey.

  • I wish you would be more direct Paul. Stop this beating around the bush. Or tweeting around the bush. Or whatever. : ) Thanks so much for weighing-in!

  • Ha. Sometimes I get so wordy that I start confusing myself! Heck, I could have put that comment IN a tweet!

  • Joey Strawn

    I hope we aren’t becoming a scarce breed, but even if we are the two of us will hold down the fort with the strength of hundreds. : )

  • Believe me, I appreciate the direct approach! Good job on your part!

  • We are the Spartans of Twitter. A brand is born.

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  • Your post and the comments seem to be covering several areas: blind tweeting (RTing without reading the actual post); self-promotional tweeting; scheduled tweeting; and ghost tweeting (someone tweeting for you). My opinions:

    Blind tweeting–is a bad practice that will bite you in the end. People follow you because they value what you tweet. If you tweet garbage, eventually people will unfollow you. That said, we all make mistakes and can be forgiven if it’s the exception, rather than the rule.

    Self-promotional–We all know this one. Just or primarily promoting yourself doesn’t work in SM, which is one reason people share a lot of other people’s content. Life lessons. Your client obviously is seeing the results of that practice.

    Scheduled tweeting–I do this myself and have no problem with people scheduling tweets. I practice content marketing, myself, and consider sharing good content part of what I “offer” my followers. I often have a block of time to read and share news, but don’t want to dump it all at once via my twitter feed. So, I space it out with scheduled tweets. However, I am also on Twitter throughout the day, most days, to respond and interact. I think scheduled tweets are fine if you are also present and engaged.

    (This also touches on the question of whether your twitter feed is more of a news feed or an engagement feed. I’ve seen both. I like both. I think both have their place. I subscribe to many Twitter accounts, like mashable and socialmediatoday, simply for the newsfeed. When people say Twitter doesn’t work except as an engagement model, they are wrong. It works great using a newsfeed model for those folks!)

    Ghost-tweeting: This is the hardest one. I haven’t come to a conclusion here. I understand that not every business/celebrity has the time to tweet on their own. And businesses have hired PR and digital agencies for years. Right now, I lean towards thinking it’s ok to have others tweet for you, but only if you’re transparent about it. The tweets should be from the organization’s “team” and you should be transparent that not everyone tweeting works for the company. I’m thinking that as long as you are upfront about who is actually doing the tweeting, it’s then up to the followers whether they find that acceptable or not. It may well be that your social media work isn’t as effective, if you aren’t the one engaged. Price to pay, but that may be a reasonable price for some businesses. It’s democracy in action. For a celebrity, while fans would prefer to hear from the celebrity his/herself, I bet it’s cool to hear tweets from the personal assistant about what xyz is doing right now, too.

    I’m currious, if people think tweeting on behalf of a business/person is acceptable under some circumstances, what guidelines should be followed?

  • Superb comment Neicole and lots of good thinking here. I fundamentally don’t like the idea of “ghost tweeting” but I’m also practical enough to know that it happens, probably with increasing frequency. I think your question is spot-on — what are the guidelines?

  • I care too Paul. In my view if you want to stay trusted and credible you better limit your number of fake tweets!

    Smaller is sometimes better and I go for smaller with keeping the potential to grow.

    Thanks for sharing this Mark.

  • Joey Strawn

    I love it. We need a website badge.

  • Joey: I set up schedule tweets. The reason I do that is because my time is 12 hours ahead than people in the United States, therefore when ever I go to bed, people are starting to wake up to start their daily life. So usually I read / skim all the blog post before scheduling them to post when I am. I get more retweets when I am asleep than when I am awake! LoL! Most probably due to people more followers who are in the United States.

    I still use twitter as an engagement tool though. I make sure I respond to everyone. I am no spammer, I’m just someone who wants to share the news. Blog post like this. (scheduling this for sure :P)

    BTW anyone looking to hire a ghost twitter-er? 😛
    KIM HIRE ME!

  • Nice to have your comment here today Claude! Enjoy following you on Twitter!

  • You’re the artist around here. Sounds like a blog post pal.

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  • I think you do the scheduled tweets better than anyone Aaron. Good job on that. You’re highly engaged. But if you’re looking to be hired as a ghost twitter-er, you’re aiming way too low my friend! : ) Thanks for taking time out of your busy school schedule to comment today!

  • It is still actually possible to tweet a post if your server is down. If you use Tweetmeme (as you do), you have the option of embedding that into your posts via reader as well as email subscriptions.

    Someone that’s reading your post on the reader (or email) can then share via the tweet option, and it directs to the post. You don’t need to physically be on the site to read the content and drive traffic there.

    It’s a funny topic – on the one hand, it’s great to “be there” to reply to comments or questions about the post, away from the blog itself. Then again, no-one’s a 24/7 robot, so makes sense to cover different timezones at their most prominent times. 🙂

  • I don’t mind if people want to create fake tweets. To each his/her own. But I think they miss out on a great opportunity (as your client found out for a little while).

    Most of us follow a celebrity or two. I like reading Conan O’Brien’s and Bill Cosby’s tweets. I think both of them are handling the job themselves, but I could be wrong. But either way, I am getting the entertainment value out of it.

    But I had a great situation where I followed a recording artist named @jrrichards, the lead singer of the band Dishwalla (who has a solo album out). I followed him and he followed back. I wrote a blog post about it and he sent me a personal thank you. That cements a tie between me and his career…something Bill Cosby and Conan O’Brien could only hope to have. They live on the thinner line of how entertaining their posts are.

    I say, its hard to connect with a wall…its easier to connect with a human. I’m not a fan of rules, but I am a fan of those who understand etiquette and who embrace the social nature of these emerging technologies. I think those that create fake tweets are living on borrowed time.

    And I don’t think you’re guilty of anything if you do more than just blast your thoughts one way and don’t take part.

    Thanks, this was a very thought provoking post. I’ll be interested in seeing the other comments.
    Drew

  • Regardless of your tweeting purpose (sharing, observations, conversation), every tweet is a representation of you and/or your brand. To tweet something mindlessly, without reading it or worse to have someone tweet on your behalf can potentially damage the image that most of us have worked hard to craft.
    To quote someone famous – you are what you tweet.

  • In this case, it was a RT of my link. When I clicked on it, the site was unavailable. I was amazed that all these people were tweeting something they couldn’t read! Honored to have you comment Danny!

  • Hehe, maybe they just respect and trust you enough to know you only share gold, mate. 🙂

  • Well said Drew. Great anecdote. Thanks so much!

  • I share your sentiment. Thanks for taking the time to express your view!

  • Kanye

    Well it is true that you kill at karaoke. Peace. Kanye

  • Oh Mark. Oh Mark. OOOOOOH Mark! There I faked it.

    LOL You knew I would show for this one right?

    I had a talk with Shelly Kramer which I found interesting. After discussing something she wanted my advice on, it migrated to some of the Social Media Hucksterish stuff that goes on. And she told me we are all adults and if we get suckered its our fault. Which had me thinking I don’t have to follow someone, read their blog or interact. And if anything I should be trying to gun for their clients vs trying to correct them or out them. But my feeling of ethics for some reason forces me to shout and yell etc. But I did that for the dot.com and housing bubbles and no one listened. Sigh.

    I think this stuff is really annoying the bots and the fraud. We get it everywhere. Its like Advertising. Anytime something new gets invented the Advertisers force their way in uninvited. Then comes the Fraud and Spam. As much as it irks me its like dirt. You sweep your floor and the dirt comes back. Take off your shoes. Somehow over time it comes back. You keep ahead of it but the minute your guard drops…..

    But you have to admit those are tweets you should frame!

  • Mark W. Schaefer

    Yes actually i knew somebody would do that and I figured there was a high probability it would be you : )

    Hey, wherever corruptino can occur, corruption will occur. It’s life unfortunately. Thanks for the thoughts Howie.

  • Well done. Like you, I rarely (very rarely) will pass along anything I haven’t read myself. When I have done that, it is a tweet that includes enough information for me to determine that it is of value to my audience and it is from someone I trust implicitly.

    I think many RTs are not done for the purpose of sharing information with one’s followers, but rather to get the attention (read: kiss up) to the original tweeter. In those cases, having vetted the content isn’t a priority.

    I also rarely schedule tweets ahead of time. If I’m online, I’m online. If I’m not, I’m not. I know there are many who like to have their accounts pushing content ’round the clock, but I think it can come off as impersonal when you’re not there to engage with those who reply or as if you don’t have a life. That said, there is no one “right” way to manage all this, just what is most right (and effective) for us.

  • Mark W. Schaefer

    Dude. Thanks for stopping by. Look forward to dropping some karaoke with you again soon. Let me know if you need any more help on your new song lyrics. Always glad to help.

  • Mark W. Schaefer

    Great, great comment Irene. I have yet to schedule a tweet. I probably need to try a few just to see what happens. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • You’re welcome Sir! I don’t mind talking out time to comment because this is one of my favourite blog . I was nearly fooled by the Kim Kardashian photo earlier. LoL! Compliment to your photoshop skills man! 🙂

    Indeed its too low, but I don’t mind if Kim hires me! I’ll charge her per tweet. 😛

    Cheers my man!

  • Lori Gosselin

    This is all new to me still, but I thought Twitter was a place to actually connect to actual people. Wasn’t that the point?
    Lori

  • Mark W. Schaefer

    It’s worked that way for me! I am probably the poster child for benefiting from the wonderful REAL connections I’ve made on Twitter. And I think the nice thing is, you can more or less create your own experience by surrounding yourself with real folks who care. Hope it works for you too!

  • This is one of those posts that makes you wish you had written it. But no one would have done so – quite as well as you have here :).
    Hello and thank you Mark, for sharing an excellent discussion piece – thought-provoking.

    In my case – I won’t retweet anything I haven’t read for myself. I know it may sound old fashioned and time consuming – but hey, that’s fine with me. Unless of course someone I trust and admire has asked me to retweet something, then I will (but I’ll still read it first). But I’m also looking to engage – so if I’m gonna retweet something, I want to make sure I know why.

    I like to think that the folks who follow me (not the spammers, the self-centered tweeters and so forth) do so because they expect or hope to see interesting/valuable tweets from my part. I don’t want to go so far as saying “you are what you tweet” but I also don’t want to be tweeting crap all day long. It’s not the audience I’m interested in capturing and retaining. And people do pick up on the garbage!

    I don’t tweet all day long because I eat, sleep, go out and do all that other stuff that live humans do. So if a tweet is coming from my account – it means I’m there.

    I’ve only tried once or twice to read a few articles and then schedule them to tweet while I was asleep (but I read the articles and manually entered each into Hootsuite with a specific time to go out). I tried that because of the time difference (I’m at least 7 to 8 hours ahead of the rest of North America). I actually wouldn’t mind doing that again – except it’s very time consuming.

    I think many people who RT sometimes do so to try and get the authors attention (or that of the original retweeter). If that’s the case, I’m not sure that reading the article is their priority.

    I say to each his own. The way you tweet and what you tweet is your choice. Everyone is looking to get their own thing out of Twitter. And that’s usually obvious by one look at their stream. Whatever works for you I guess. But just don’t be surprised with who follows you and why.

    Anyhow, Tons more to say here but I’ll stop or you’ll be scrolling through pages and cursing me lol. All that to say, a fantastic post Mark!
    Cheers

  • If Kim Kardashian hires a professional tweeter, you will have to fight your way through me. Be warned Aaron Lee — I have mad ninja skills!

    Besides, Kim and I have so much in common. People confuse the two of us all the time.

  • “You are what you tweet.” That is brilliant. Wish I had used that as a headline. Where were you when I needed you? : )

    Thanks so much for your insightful comment Ingrid!

  • Mark,
    I’m loving this whole adding to your vocab thing ;). That’s 2 now – YaY!
    How “cool” do I feel now?! hehe

    Seriously though, I loved this piece.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my comment.
    Have a wonderful day.

  • Lynsay Caylor

    I would rather have a couple good, “real” tweets than several dozen “fake” ones. I think that everything you tweet is apart of who you are to the community. Whether that’s funny, informational, supportive, etc. Twitter definitely becomes a numbers game to many people, but I find it much more worthwhile when I’m getting to know another person by reading what they tweet and how they tweet. We’re all definitely pressed for time, so making the most of that time online seems to be the most worthwhile use of time.

  • Rrodenborg

    “Blind” retweeting is a recipe for disaster. Sooner or later, something is bound to sneak through that you didn’t see and damage your brand’s reputation. Even if you trust the source, read it before tweeting it. ‘Nuf said.

    Scheduled tweeting falls on the line for me–I use it from time to time, but strategically. I find that I unfollow people who are obviously scheduling all their tweets–and I mean, ALL of their tweets–since there isn’t much engagement there. I think it’s fairly easy to see when there’s a person on the other end of the line. It’s hard to be funny in a spontaneous way and schedule the jokes in advance, if you follow me. Too many scheduled tweets and you start to sound a bit canned and flat. Response time to related tweets is telling as well. I want to engage with real people. I think most people do. But I also understand that seasoned Tweeps want to keep the tweet stream full without burying their followers all at once. I figure, use this method with caution.

    “Ghost-tweeting” is a big no-no for me. If you don’t have the time to actually tweet for yourself, then don’t bother. What’s an ad agency or ghost-tweeter really going to do for your business? Without the personality and individuality of the tweeter (brand, celebrity, or regular Joe), Twitter becomes a soap box…and all too often the message goes, “Blah, blah, blah.”

    There’s my two cents.
    Happy Wednesday!

  • Anonymous

    Good day Mark!

    The value in social networks is building real relationships and participating in real conversations – blind, fake, scheduled, ghosts don’t do it for me… then again, that’s just me : )

    Cheers to you sir…

  • Anonymous

    Having just read this post and all the comments, I gave it an RT. That’s how I roll, and how I tweet. For real. Another interesting take on things Mark. Thanks!

  • Fabulous post, Mark and great comments from everyone! Personally, I don’t RT links I’ve not read only because if I’ve not read them, how can I determine if they are worth sharing with my followers? But, the crux of your discussion here is about “ghosting” or TwitFakes. And I totally agree with you but “ghosting” will continue to happen and become more prevalent as the commercial value (real or imagined) continues to grow. But, in the long run isn’t that ultimately what happened to MySpace where the evolution from personal relationships morphed to insincere activity (including some really nasty stuff)? Possibly the same thing will happen to Twitter unless they come up with something soon to really justify their overall value. Eventually sincere users will grow sick of being spammed, mislead and otherwise invaded and find an alternative.

  • I’m probably flailing about on twitter, like the business professional you helped. I do all of my own tweeting though, while retweeting things from people, orgs I know – and articles I find interesting. I can’t have someone else tweet, because I can’t pay for it. And I can’t automatically response, because I’m not tech savvy enough to figure that out – don’t have much time to figure any of it out with 3 kids, job, own business and promoting my childrens book. Probably worse, I have two twitter accounts, one for my business, one for myself as an Author.

    Even though I’m doing it myself, I’m sure I’m still flailing. But what’s a girl to do? I’ve gotta get myself out there right?

  • I got one name for you, Guy Kawasaki. His Twtter content is vast, varied, and for the most part, really, really good. I followed him for a long time, one of my first even. The it all fell apart. I found out that none of his tweets were actually done by him. it was a turning point for me. In my eyes, he lost all credibility. I realized that I wasn’t being thanked for any of my RT’s, which in my mind is a must. His feed became cold and calculated. there was no personality behind the avatar.

    I should thank him. He started me on the road to the realization of my business. I don’t follow “him” any more. I can understand the need for a certain amount of ghost tweeting, especially in the case of a corporate entity, but that corp should relegate the tweeting to a minimal amount of employees and they should each keep up their own account for the business. It is for this exact reason that I simply added my business tweets into my personal feed. My business is me, I a my business, and my tweets should reflect that.

  • This is a really key point Lynsay. Perhaps more than any other networking opportunity, you get out of it what you put into it when it comes to Twitter. I’ve actually got a blog post n the hopper pointing to some research on “Twitter efficiency” I think you’ll enjoy! Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to comment!

  • Tremendous comment. Can’t disagree. Thanks so much!

  • I hope people who put their tweets on a schedule or rotation read all these comments! I usually end up dropping them. Thanks.

  • Thanks for keepin’ it real Billy!

  • Key insight and good comparison Steve. Well said and thanks!

  • It does take time to get in the groove and figure it out. Twitter is easy to do, difficult to master. I’m planning to offer a new resource on my site to help twitter beginners so watch for it in about a month. In the meantime, please let me know how I can help you with any particular struggles you might be having. Be glad to help.

  • I almost used Guy as an example, so thanks for introducing the phenonmenon that is Guy Kawasaki. I actually exchanged emails with Guy on this (and other) issues. When I asked him what was behind his odd strategy, he responded to it with a link. It was a chart showing the growth in in his twitter following, which is enormous. He is betting that there will be equity in that down the road and for him, he’s probably right.

    I think the beauty of this is, it works for Guy, whatever his business purpose may be. It doesn;t work for you so you unfollow. Everybody’s happy.

    Thanks for the keen observation Brian!

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s great you bring this up since some time ago I had a realization on the same issue. I used to do blind tweets for a while, you know, thinking to get the tweet volume up and more exposure. Then I’ve come to grips that it was a complete waste of time. Users tend to notice the types of tweets you send if you truly found value in them but, if they are all over the map, then the tweets become tuned out.

    I don’t have a problem with the occasional blinder though. Someone may actually find it useful even if you didn’t.

  • nice to see you back in action Johnny. Thanks for your comment!

  • Have my own post on scheduled tweeting due, but like you.. there is a line, a balance. Ghost tweeting.. IDK. I don’t really stalk celebrities, not sure about engaging there as a fan, though of course I am one. My thing is disclosure, be upfront about who is tweeting, how often, if the person has any say or influence on their “official” account. For a brand or company, different to show that personality but agree it’s still needed vs. the blah and boring. FWIW.

  • Neicole, Tips to highlighting the different aspects of this issue. Like I mentioned above, I have moved my line in the sand a little, seen the difference in automated tweets vs. scheduled, etc. Like you it’s the ghost tweeting that mileage varies greatest. Much like speech writing, blog writing is ghost tweeting. Per Howie’s comment about Shelly Kramer’s caveat. Except audiences know the President doesn’t write his own speeches, yet expect “authenticity” from tweeters. So I still don’t know.

  • Mark, Sorta comment bombing here but I think it will all come down to objectives, strategies, semantics. What constitutes fake vs. real? To what percentages, to what ends? Does the tweeter care about engagement, disclosure? Do the followers? Neicole made a great point outlining the differences in blind vs. ghost vs. programmed tweets. If you notice and don’t like, unfollow.

    Tweeting as an individual is different than as a brand or group entity, which is why many companies but a name and face on their social media presence, hire those community managers. And @JennWhinnem did a good post on faking Twitter not too long ago http://smbcollective.com/2010/12/faking-twitter-could-cost-100k/ FWIW.

  • Ingrid, We’re kinda twins in our approach to Twitter. Only thing I am changing is a little bit of programmed vs. self-scheduling, just to be more efficient. TEHO.

  • Guy measures his success in number of followers. Brian, you measure the success of your tweets based on engagement. Both of you are correct of course, but on different points lol.

    And I totally agree with Mark. Diff. strokes. People take other people’s twitter practices to heart. It shouldn’t be that way I believe. We have different goals and try to achieve them best way we know how.

    I will say this. Guy is a lightning rod for twitter conversation. lol So thank you for letting me participate 🙂

  • Very good point about how the metric is measured differently, and I do believe that engagement of those who do follow is more important than mass following. But there is always the point that having more people see you makes you more likely to gain that lead. I just see the mass following model as more of a billboard type advertising and it reminds me of the ambulance chasing lawyer ads I see on buses and highways 🙂

  • Belllindsay

    Great post and great comments. I hate fakery of any kind. You presume your audience is too thick to realize what’s going on. I come from TV land. Believe me, I know from fakery. I follow Colbert and Steve Martin and the square headede guy from The Office all of whom write their own tweets. But I certainly wasn’t expecting a followback. D’uh. They’re celebs! I know of one local celeb who rarely does his own tweets. Drives me nuts. But I’m not gonna burst his fans bubbles. I think if you’re real, it comes across in the writing. As one commentator said, timely humour, actually responding to something in real time, etc. And good lord, do people really retweet without reading?? I would die. What I tweet or retweet is a direct representation of who I am and/or things I find interesting. Seriously, to retweet without reading is just insane. Stop it. P.S. I think scheduling the odd tweet is fine. The *odd* tweet.

  • lol…nice visual with the ambulance chasing thing…made me spit coffee on my macbook and I dont appreciate it lol.

  • Actually, I think you two guys would get along very well. I would encourage you to get to know each other. I think you are kindred spirits.

  • I agree. A couple places in the comments I point out that different things work for different people. if you don;t like Guy Kawasaki’s fake tweets and ubiquity you can unfollow, but it still gives Guy the freedom to pursue his goals. The beauty of Twitter. We can create our own experience. Thanks so much for passing on Jenn’s excellent post. I think I missed that one!

  • Does Colbert really does his own tweets? Cool. They’re so funny I assumed he must have some writers doing them. Twitter certainly can be entertaining, huh? So much going on. Thanks for the contribution!

  • Belllindsay

    Re: Colbert: Don’t burst my bubble, Mark. 😉

  • Honesty is the best policy. Thus the conversation would be genuine.

    @clweinfeld

  • I am in the ignorance is bliss camp myself.

  • Thanks for caring enough to comment Carol!

  • You kill me! LOL!! It’s funny. We JUST had this conversation today. Someone was looking at the number of clicks on a certain tweet (112). But when I looked at my analtyics dashboard that our CCO so patiently gives me every day, I noticed only 48 people actually clicked through from the tweet. So 64 people fake tweeted. More than half. Oy vey.

  • A well-known (relatively speaking) local musican struck up a conversation with me a few months back and we would @ reply each other every so often. Was a musician I knew of, but was never interested enough in her work to actually buy a cd. But sentiments like that can change if you think you’re getting to know a real person.

    One day she casually said “oh, my assistant writes most of my tweets.”

    Click. Unfollow.

    And now I have no idea if the weather-predicting hip is hers or her assistant’s :/

  • A well-known (relatively speaking) local musican struck up a conversation with me a few months back and we would @ reply each other every so often. Was a musician I knew of, but was never interested enough in her work to actually buy a cd. But sentiments like that can change if you think you’re getting to know a real person.

    One day she casually said “oh, my assistant writes most of my tweets.”

    Click. Unfollow.

    And now I have no idea if the weather-predicting hip is hers or her assistant’s :/

  • A very cool post and really speaks to an issue here. Yeah, I think some of what you say leads itself to a laziness with social media. People was instant social media gratification, expecting to get traffic and followers the moment you go online. But, psst, it takes hard work and persistance, and the slow marathon is the way to go. Nonetheless, for those that don’t read the post, the positive side is that if that person RTs it, there is still a greater chance that that person’s followers reads the post. Basically, it keeps your content in the mix. I think that is a good thing.

    As for ad agencies running accounts, barf. That is all I have to say. No true authenticity there.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Seppichdaily

    I must say I’m fascinated by the article and the comments following, because “Ghosting” is what I do for a living.

    Indy (Indianapolis) is a little Social Media Mecca. We’re getting there. We have a pretty solid group of Social Media people that have been very successful in the market. Just a few examples: Myself 🙂 @seppichdaily – Lindsay Manfredi @lindsaymanfredi – Kyle Lacy @kyleplacy – Douglas Karr @douglaskarr – Eric Deckers @edeckers. National Authors, Musicians, just all around good people, strong roots.

    So back to “Faking” your tweets. Haven’t we all “faked” it once in our lives?

    Seriously. I understand the question. If you don’t tweet for yourself, it’s not authentic. People say that, and I strongly disagree. IF you hire someone that is GOOD, you shouldn’t be able to tell if it’s them or someone else doing the tweeting. That is the platform on which I have built my business. If someone hires me to do tweeting, or blogging for them I will invest the time and the energy that it takes to have Their Voice. I will know their business inside and out. If something comes up that I don’t know, I have a life line to the contact to get the answer, and say it the way they want. Open communication is the key to any good relationship, yes?

    Cheers!

  • You’re welcome.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Wow. Good example. Sounds like a blog post. BTW, what’s so funny? Perhaps you’re just jealous that I’m hanging out with the Kardashians? I don’t put it in people’s faces, but yes, I do have a rather Hollywood lifestyle. Just yesterday Lady Gaga and I were brainstorming new costume ideas. Who do you think came up with that meat thing? Do you think she thought of that HERSELF? I am discreet but let me give you a little insight into 2011 fashion: “crustaceans.”

    Sorry, but JayZ is on the line again. I am trying to to talk him out of this collaboration with Carrot Top. That’s how I roll baby. That’s how I roll.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Ouch. That is the real risk isn’t it. Somebody told me they had a whole conversation on Twitter with a business executive. When she met him in real life a week later he had no idea what she was talking about. An assistant had been posing as him. #FAIL

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Julio, this is an important addition to the conversation. The whole aspect of the time it takes to really be effective. Perfect comment and so true. Thank you!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I’m not sure how you can contend that “open communication is the key to any good relationship” and then defend yourself as a ghost tweeter. In all due respect, that makes no sense at all.

    Since Twitter done right is conversational, you are either a poser by faking connections with people or a broadcaster by simply sending out tweets without interaction. Neither seems ideal.

    I’m a realist and know this is happening out there. I don;t even mind so much a PR-assist with strictly broadcast tweets (“I will be appearing at the Indy borders for a book-siging today”) but as so many commenters have said, faking a dialogue will come back to bite you in the long run.

    I sincerely appreciate the fact that you offered your dissenting view in a forum where you are obviously out-numbered by comments that would disagree with you. That takes some guts so I appreciate it very much.

    BTW, I will be speaking at a conference with Kyle in Bloomington in April. Maybe you would like to attend and we’ll have a chance to discuss this live.

  • I have to say really I just think it’s LAME. I don’t want to follow people that seem fake or automated or just talk about themselves. Eventually it will catch up to you. Unless that is your Kim Kardashian…or will it? Haha by the way…I LOVED your post on her, too funny!

  • From my perspective, being real is key. It’s all about trust – and rebuilding that trust with your followers may be impossible.

  • I think it’s more a case of ‘if we keep him busy with post writing/commenting ~ MAYBE he’ll stop singing’. Glad to know that your charitable outreach may jump start Kanye’s career though Mark.

    Wonder if an analogy exists where the way you choose to engage with Twitter reflects the way you engage with other aspects of your life also? Are you hands on? Do you fly with the wind created by others? Do image and optics hold more significance than effort, time and interest?

    (Cues Kanye: “Work it, make it, do it, makes us Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger …”)

  • Forbidding less authentic tweeters is equivalent to only allowing the “pretty people” into a club. Everyone should have access. Not everyone will score. Whether we are in a bar or online, we hope that the people we encounter will be genuine but it isn’t always the case.

    I used to believe a company had to tweet for itself or not bother, but I’ve changed my opinion. What does it matter if the person is salaried or hourly? That’s what it amounts to. Most importantly, a company (or celeb) must understand the importance of being genuine and genuinely be involved when it counts. That is key.

    Did you know even the best social media personalities have ghost tweeters? Guy Kawasaki doesn’t hit it. He indicates when someone else it tweeting for him (I think they add their initials, or something?). I appreciate that kind of honesty.

  • If you would be contented with a Twitter stream of people preteneding to be other people … Well, more power to you but I think the majority of the Twitter population (see comments below) would kick them out. I don’t understand your analogy about salaried versus hourly people. People are people.

    There are many different strategies and uses for Twitter and I acknowledge that. But if you are seeking to build authentic business networking opportunities (which Guy is not), you better be prepared to be authentic and honorable yourself. If I found out I was creating a relationship with a tweeting admin instead of you I would be furious quite frankly. In all due respect, that kind of deceit shatters trust and ruins reputations for companies and individuals.

    Thanks for having the courage to offer a minority opinion, Kathi. Much appreciated!

  • Agree. You can’t be effective online or offline without that precious commodity! Thank you Star.

  • I assure you the tweets in the graphic above are authentic … more or less. I don’t know what to do about Kim. She just can’t let go.

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the articles Rachael!

  • I think you have a good point here. Not Kanye. The other one.

    I think social media in general tends to amplify personality types. Thanks!

  • On what ever side, its not good. I know “Keeping up with the Kardashian” is a hit show and posers want to have their own popularity but that’s not cool.

  • My parody was meant to be a joke. I’m sorry if it didn’t come across that way. Humor is difficult to get across, especially acorss cultures. Thanks for caring enough to comment.

  • I think that at least for companies, a mix of ghost and genuine tweets are acceptable. Obviously the ghost writer can’t be in the physical company every day to deliver as it happens content. For example, I was hired to manage social media for a few area restaurants managed by one company. My plan incorporated scheduled content revolving around specials, interesting facts, links to related articles other than their websites and events. Key personnel are responsible for other posts that are more “happening now” and reminders. Many businesses are interested in outsourcing most of the social media management because they don’t have the time, don’t want to learn it but know it valuable. My main market is small businesses where the owners where too many hats as it is and need support.

    Back to the original question though. I don’t agree with RTing content you haven’t read. Personally, How can you rep for something if you don’t know what it is! What is the account was hacked and it’s porn? Even if the content is legit, I would hope the OT would want readers to click and find the content useful first. Your content is being moved but maybe not to who you need it moved to and you are missing out on traffic as well. In the meantime, the posters influence goes up but like you said, isn’t that faking influence? Is that like cloaking or using irrelevant keywords, i.e., bad SEO practices? With Twitter being a relatively new way of marketing, I wonder if there will soon be a Bad Practices that Get You Banned! like Google has done.

  • Wonderful thinking here Lyndsay. I take a contrarian view on company personalities and tweeting. I think it should be a real person. I’ve got as blog post coming up to expalin this in detail in a few days but it boils down to this. Twitter certainly can be a mass media broadcast channel if that is what you want it to be. People will probably tune out because they’re sick of being advertised to. But I content that Twitter is not about B2B or B2C but P2P — person to person. Even if you’re a company! As I said I will explain this further in an upcoming blog post so stay tuned. I think you’ll enjoy it.

  • Joey Strawn

    I would say that if anyone could pull off an effective scheduled Tweet and still keep engagement, it would be you Aaron. One thing that really matters if that even when you schedule something, you stay engaged and you do that very, very well.

  • Joey Strawn

    I would say that if anyone could pull off an effective scheduled Tweet and still keep engagement, it would be you Aaron. One thing that really matters if that even when you schedule something, you stay engaged and you do that very, very well.

  • Seppichdaily

    A poser? I haven’t heard that word since 1987. I would point you in the direction of my conversations with my clients customers or prospects. Since I’m a ghost, it’s unethical, and contractually I can’t do it. So I suppose you can generalize me as a poser or a broadcaster.

    Send me a ticket for your conference with Kyle. I’d be happy to attend.

  • Nmartinez

    I guess one way to look at it is even if those 12 people didn’t actually read your blog, it was still made available to more eyes than if they had not “blind-tweeted” the link. Isn’t that ultimately your goal? To get your word out to as many people as possible? For now, this may not be a problem…. I don’t think a lot of people realize how often this goes on. So how long will it take until people no longer find twitter relevant? I’m with you…. does anybody even care?

  • Nmartinez

    Yes, and just as MySpace is dying and facebook is taking over as the “hot place to be” Twitter will eventually follow suit. Just like technology….there’s always something better coming out in six months!

  • I tend to agree that if you can’t tweet as yourself, you shouldn’t tweet at all. There’s nothing written anywhere about anyone HAVING to tweet. The contrarian that I am, I always advise people to not tweet if it doesn’t feel right, if they don’t want to converse and share, and if they simply don’t plan to tweet. There are still other modes of communication. Tweeting for the sake of tweeting is just wrong and actually damaging to you as a brand (personal brand) in other communication channels. If you don’t wanna do it, don’t do it. Even if it’s the shiny new object.

    The above goes for people. If you are a brand, it’s OK to have several people tweet for you (and you should) — not sold on agency tweeting for a brand on a daily basis. Tweeting for “campaigns” is different – daily engagement is so part of the culture that it just can’t be outsourced. It’s like outsourcing watercooler chatter. Just doesn’t feel right. Of course, you need to ensure that you have a proper “succession plan” when your main tweeter goes on vacation (yes, sm people need to rest too sometimes). Case study: I went on my wedding + honeymoon 3 days after announcing my new job at Nimble (well, the timing just worked out weirdly) and because I was so new I wasn’t able to set things up properly for when I left. Twitter acct. ended up growing some tumbleweeds and we were chastized. It won’t happen again, obviously, but importance of consistency is obvious here.

  • Yes, that’s an interesting point and I suppose you’re right. It was just an eye-opening experience to see this “proof” that a tweet doesn’t necessarily mean a “read!” Doesn’t do much good to get lots of publicity for a blog nobody reads : ) Thanks for the good angle on this topic.

  • Like that — “It’s like outsourcing watercooler chatter. Just doesn’t feel right.” Really good way to put it. Also good aspect about preparing for a departure. Thanks for taking the tim eto make these great point Maria and congratualtions on your wedding!

  • Aaron is a role model in many ways.

  • I’m always blown away by your ability and willingness to respond to comments here. You are truly one of the most responsive bloggers out there. Unless you have a ghost comment-responder 🙂 Just kidding around 🙂 You really are amazing.

  • I completely agree that when you start following a person or celebrity you have an expectation that you are hearing from them personally. From businesses I expect conversation and I also expect that that business may actually try to sell me something once in awhile. Twitter is the only way that consumers can connect on a personal level with the brands they love. They are probably already loyal customers so the content is usually more informational marketing, education the customer, layer by layer, with blog posts about how their brand helps you and therefore, please keep buying from us/reading my blog. It is more subtle than say a link directly to a product on sale but it builds brand loyalty. Larger companies can certainly afford to have internal marketing teams and I agree that is where the tweets should come from. One person on that team. Or the owner. There seems to be a dividing line for outsourced marketing teams and that is where I getting lost. Why is it ok to have an employee tweet and not a subcontractor?

    Businesses with Twitter accounts are doing one thing. Building brand loyalty to improve their bottom line. Twitter users have the choice of building their own lists and streams. So people aren’t really getting information they didn’t ask for. Just like on tv or radio, don’t like it? Change the channel, right? As per Twitter’s Best Practices for business twitter users (http://business.twitter.com/basics/best-practices) they mention using the right voice for your company as well encouraging posting deals, sales and discounts. So Twitter users having read that should understand that if they follow a business what to expect.

    I look forward to you next post!

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  • OMG, so sick of Kim K. Sorry, but I am.

    But anyway, wanted to say that although I am growing my following slowly I think I am doing it the best way possible. No automated tools to follow/unfolow, I choose who to follow back and more than 50% of my tweets are @ replies. Also I tweet way more other people’s links (to their great posts) than my own.

    I think for now it is what is working the best for me.

  • Can’t arrgue with that. IMO, there are no shortcuts and you’re doing a great job! Thanks!

  • You bring up a lot of good points here Lyndsay. I’m particularly interested in your insight about Twitter being the best way for brads to connect directly with consumers. I’d guess most people would have said Facebook but maybe I’m wrong. Any way, interesting perspecitves. Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting!

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  • Twitter culture is more conversational, even in it’s interface. On Facebook you “like” or “comment” and on Twitter you “reply” and “retweet”. While Facebook has a larger audience where brands can touch base with more people, most of those people at this point are late adapters and are not tech saavy enough to interact on the same level as Twitter users. Don’t jump on me, I am not calling FB users stupid. Twitter is just newer so the streams are mostly early adapters that are paving the way for how to communicate with brands, where on FB this has already been established. Don’t get me wrong, the brands on FB, for the most part do a good job of engaging, or trying to engage but the audience there doesn’t engage back nearly on the level as on Twitter. Both have their place and at this point are integral to successful social media outreach. This is just my own observation 🙂

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  • Of course there is a lot of retweeting of links to help people out. But let’s face it, there is just not enough hours in a day to read all the mountains of (excellent) information. But for me the big turn off is where a 3rd party is tweeting for A.N.Other. Twitter is such a personal thing – and you need real people for that. Their personality must shine through.

  • She missed the fundamental point – that she was more successful when she was ‘real’. Real people take holidays so she should have taken a ‘tweet holiday’ too and come back refreshed.

  • Joyce Brayboy

    Twitter is all about picking out what I need from the massive amounts of information available and giving back where it counts. I try to put out content that fits my niche, personality and style, so followers have a trend of what to expect, no surprises. When I run across something I like, that like-minded people would also find interesting, then I post.

    I expect the same.

    Fake tweets defeat the purpose. If I have to sift through it to see if it’s interesting then I can web surf, why follow you? There are all kinds of tweeters out there, but it’s safe to say I chose to follow people who generally have something thoughtful to tweet, in a very few areas of interest. Not interested in a goose chase of random posts with a could-be interesting headline… a couple misses and credibility is shot.

    Disclaimer: My month on Twitter doesn’t give me an expert opinion.

  • Marita

    The reason I do not follow very many people is because I would never have time to read their tweets. I choose to follow people that tweet topics I am interested in, why would I not read their tweets? When I do not have time,and if I like the topic, I save the article in evernotes for later. However, I am not in twitter to have a huge klout. Truthfully, I do not understand fake twitting…

  • A very valid strategy. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Anonymous

    No, I don’t like the fake tweeting. If you can’t be authentic, why bother? And the ones that only promote something, constantly, drive me crazy.

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

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  • Not only for getting out information around my interests, I use Twitter for gathering information from a variety of sources around those subjects (yes, even beyond social media!) I’m interested in. Needless to say, I make a point of following links before I re-tweet them to be sure they are at least, if not more, that they appeared on the surface. There have been a number of occasions when the link takes me to something I surely wouldn’t have wanted to pass along. So… fake tweeting? I’m against it, of course, and do prefer the honesty and transparency that we talk about. Sadly, there are always those who have ulterior motives.

    Hope that thing with Kim K. works out for you, Mark. 😉

    –Star

  • rose s

    At least on the surface of the problem, Kim helped market you :-).  So, I guess the old adage still holds true: Bad publicity is good publicity. 

    However, I agree w/ you completely on tweet your own message.  After all, all tweets should represent who you are & what interests you have.  Hire another one to tweet on one’s behalf will back fire on the individual.  To say the least, one will lose followers soon.

  • “SEXY BLOGGA?” ! *snort*

    For the record, if that was Kim’s real twitter stream, I’d follow. But on the ‘fake’ tweets, or tweeting without reading is okay, I guess my opinion is ‘it depends.’  If your purpose, for instance, is to provide news or information on a topic related to a specific industry, and you’re tweeting a trusted source, I can see why someone might not read the whole article. Or why a company might employ more than one person to handle a twitter account. But, as noted in the other comments, it sure is nice when folks indicate who the author is, or that the author is someone other than the person indicated on the twitter profile. In general, though, I think tweeting without reading is tweeting at your own risk. Not sure I’d want to chance a link containing content that doesn’t represent my own beliefs. Or worse, with my luck, I’d end up tweeting a link to a virus or something crazy.

    Great post, Mark!

  • Anonymous

    My POV on authenticity? It’s vital for what I want and get from using Twitter.

    The benefits I’ve gotten from Twitter have been person-to-person benefits (shared expertise and experiences, connections to local folks for IRL meetings) not person-to-brand or person-to-avatar benefits. I know Guy has a ton of followers and “influence,” but his model doesn’t work for what I want. If someone is tweeting via an admin (or worse, a bot) as if they themselves are tweeting, they may get followers, but I’ll pass.

    One interesting exception: breaking news, where there may be a person tweeting, but their “realness” matters less than whether the group they tweet for gives me a feeling of assurance (or not) the tweet is fact-checked/important.

    I have a sense that ghost tweeting is a deceit (as in Mark’s comment) and ghost writing is not — I wonder why? Mark, do you feel the same divide about ghost tweeting being deceit and ghost writing for, say, a memoir, not being deceitful?

  • If I can’t live out a fantasy on my own blog, it’s a pretty sad world : )

  • Thanks Rose!  Nice to see you in the comment section!

  • Thanks Star.  It has been an up and down relationship : )

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  • Is fake tweeting ok? No, definitely not. The best tweets come from the person behind the account in their voice. That’s the best way to be present and experience the greatest benefits.

    But what is fake tweeting?  Tweeting on someone else’s behalf is fake and should be avoided. But the line gets gray if it’s on behalf of an organization or business. I still feel that’s wrong and won’t do it but I can understand it if done as a genuine dialogue. I once attended a presentation where a large company admitted they “pretended” to be a 40-something mother online in order to speak to their target audience even if they were a 20-something single. To me that is clearly being fake and wrong.Blind-tweeting is not necessarily evil either. I do so for when I’ve read an article already in the hard copy version of the newspaper. Yes, I prefer to get ink on my hands. And occasionally for content from trusted tweeps. But I don’t think that explains your situation.Are scheduled tweets fake? I’m coming around to considering them authentic if they are, for example, sharing a post to a target audience when you normally wouldn’t be working. But they need to be the exception and only a minority of your tweets if you are using Twitter authentically.

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