The ultimate blogging smack-down: Schaefer versus Mitch Joel

blogging smack-down

A few weeks ago Mitch Joel, blogger and founder of Twist Image, aggressively disagreed with me on my blog post Why it’s Ridiculous to Argue About Ghost Blogging.

He was so pumped up about this topic that he challenged me to a duel. So I practiced my very best Mitch Joel “blue steel” sexy-glare (above) and accepted.

Mitch just posted our rambunctious discussion on his Six Pixels of Separation podcast. This turned out to be an absolutely fascinating debate and a lot of fun. Check it out to see what happens when we lock horns on the subject of ghost blogging and social media philosophy in general.

Mitch says ghost blogging is fundamentally wrong and that this is force-fitting old thinking into a new media. My perspective is, get over it — it’s already happening and it’s an important way to give voice to an executive’s passion and ideas.

We also delve into subjects like:  Is social media changing corporate culture or does corporate culture determine social strategy?

Come along for a wild ride by listening here.

And if you don’t follow Mitch’s excellent blog, you’re really missing out. He’s a solid business consultant and an important voice on the social web.

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  • OK, Mark. Now you’re officially in the Big League! Mitch’s podcast is awesome and I’m so chuffed for you to feature there.

    Can’t wait to listen to this one.

  • 1. Why does it look like we’re about to make-out in this picture?
    2. I think my points (or side) wins based on the title of this Blog post… did you have a Ghost Blogger write it?


    Seriously, it was a great conversation and let’s not confuse enthusiasm for aggression. The only time I get aggressive is when someone calls me a “solid business consultant” vs. what I am: the President of a multi-office Digital Marketing agency 😉

    OK… enough joking around… thanks for the conversation… let’s make sure to do it again some time soon because I definitely am not “over it.”

  • Mark W Schaefer

    @Mitch — Thanks for conceding defeat. : )

    I was really energized by our debate and the circuitous route we took to my ultimate victory. The part at the end when you beg for mercy — a bit dramatic but a nice touch.

    Thanks for hosting me on your podcast, Mitch. I think we produced some great content here!

  • Hey Mark,

    Personally, I have been listening, reading and even on the rare occasion chatting with Mitch for a while now. So, when this topic came up I thought:

    “Oh, Mitch is got this one”

    But you know, after listening to you both speak, it opened my eyes to your point of view, and on the idea in general.

    I enjoyed the point you made about “help” more than “writing for.”

    Personally, I feel the middle grounds is this: The person produces the content, but has someone look it over (as I personally do, because well, I’m not a good writer)

    Now, for Tweeting, and posting other updates – that I still feel should be 100% real

    Thanks for the conversation Mark, and for the new insights!

    Josh Muirhead

  • Don’t change teams Josh! 😉

  • Hey, I’ll do what I want! – But no worries, I still feel that having someone write the blog 100% for someone else, and then just claim to be them is a path to no where fast.

    Just think if Steve Jobs let someone else do his Key Notes – We would all miss the blue jeans and black / bark shirts

  • Maybe if I did the keynotes (ok, it would be in all black!) people wouldn’t mind it so much? 😉

  • Mark

    @josh — Clearly you operate at a higher level of thinking than the normal Joel follower. I’m glad you’ve abandoned the Dark Side.

    I’m kidding of course but you do make a serious point about “help.” Also a significant point of agreement between us was that if ghost blogging would harm a brand in any way — forget it. It would not be the right thing to do.

    Another point of agreement is that the rock music at the beginning of Mitch’s program is by far the best in the industry.

  • Jim LeBlanc

    I’ll tell you one thing. I don’t know about ghost blogging but I think you have a better “blue steel” gaze than Mitch. Are you working on Magnum? : )

  • Mark & Mitch

    Boy, you guys are getting all Cluetrain on us weren’t ya!

    Nice Podcast – but, boy that was one long violent agreement.

    People can pick up and recognize marketing-speak in a New York minute. We know right away when we hear a genuine human voice. My POV is a ghost blogger just cannot replace a genuine piece of communication from one person to another no matter how well written. It is a proxy.

  • Mark

    @Jim — I am standing in front of the mirror right now working on a new top-secret look called “Titanium.” Kind of a mix between Mitch Joel and the Twitter Fail Whale. Deadly beauty.

    @mose — I only like you when you agree with me. Go away until tomorrow.

  • @Mitch, Totally, you should call Steve up and let him know you’re taking over.

    @Mose, I think you nailed it with the last point. People can pick up when it’s someone writing out of passion, and someone writing out of “I need this 500 word essay for today please”.

    @Mark, I agree his rock music is great, and totally feel that consultants can help guide people, maybe even do some spell checking, but the content should 99% come from the real deal.

    And not to make you feel left out

    @Jim, I think it would be a good contest between Mark and Mitch, I would need to see the walk/spin, then look to really get a feel

  • @jim and @mark – I still say it looks like Mark is trying to face suck with me.

  • Mitch, who wouldn’t.

    Sorry, Mark. Is it tomorrow yet?

    Must go have a ghost drink.

  • Pingback: Storytelling Business Social Media Marketing PR & Technology Curated Stories August 10, 2010()

  • Mark

    @mose — Yes, it’s tomorrow somewhere. If you’re having a ghost drink, may I assume you are imbibing “spirits?”

    Man you set me up for that one.

    @Mitch — Dammit man you gotta stop the suck face stuff. You’re making me pucker.

    @Josh I’m working on a {grow} music video. You will see me spin and twirl like Gaga on speed baby.

    What happened to this blog? It used to be so nice around here.

  • Mark and Mitch,

    First, this podcast saved me! I had to ride 50 miles yesterday, it was pouring here, and I had to ride on the trainer. You guys kept me completely enthralled (while typing notes as legibly as I could in Evernote so I wouldn’t forget any brilliance you said) for 40 minutes. Thank you!

    Secondly, I thought the way you both handled yourselves in this debate was professional, fun, and kind. It’s not often people disagree so vehemently, yet have a debate that is really interesting to listen to…I got at least two blog posts out of it!

    Lastly, I’m wondering if this is a Main St. vs. Wall St. debate? I, too, am idealistic and would love to have the CEOs of the businesses we work with be the ones blogging. So much so, in fact, we refused to ghost blog until this year. Mitch, I liked what you said about the big companies not having the CEOs blog, but people like Robert Scoble and Avinash Kaushik have made great strides as the face of the company. This is great IF the company has someone internal to do that…most of the companies we work with do not; we serve as the marketing department for them.

    We have three clients who are really smart, have great things to say, even are good writers, but they just don’t have (or make) the time to blog. So we ghost blog for them…but they approve the topic, they provide us a two to five minute interview for content, and they approve and publish the posts. They ALWAYS interact with their communities – we do not do that for them. And, for all three of them, the blogs have helped them achieve (and more) their business goals…even adding money to the bottom line.

    Would I rather our clients blog themselves? Absolutely! I’d even love it if we worked ourselves out of a job because we’ve taught them how to do their own marketing. But this is the real world, and it just doesn’t happen that way. Unfortunately.

  • And…it does look like you’re sucking face.

  • Mark

    That’s so great Gini! Look forward to your take on the subject and thanks for your kind words. It was fun to do.

    OK. Yes. It does look like we’re sucking face. There, I said it.

  • Good piece. I had the same debate with Neville Hobson. He was against ghost-blogging and for keeping things personal when bosses blog. I argued against here:

  • Mark

    Thanks, Paul.

  • Nathan

    I like the fact that 80% of the comments are still you guys going back and forth – haven’t listened to the podcast yet but I side with Mark.

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