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Posts from the ‘Ghostwriting’ Category

Happy New Tweet.

When I opened my business 14 years ago, I didn’t think a typical ghostwriting assignment would be a several-times-a-day series of 140-character messages that matched the personality, voice and agenda of their master. Books and op-eds were more my style.

But during an otherwise challenging 2011, I became a GhostTweeter — someone who helps clients communicate successfully on social media. It’s been huge fun, a great experience, and so far, free of any Ashton Kutcher-style disasters.

Right now, I have two corporate clients who have me generating social media copy on various subjects — I’m not responsible for their whole show, and that’s just fine. Thankfully, these folks want to develop a real dialogue with specific groups of followers. For that, they’ve developed something very much like a newsroom with various contract writers (like me) acting much like beat reporters, developing and posting relevant content on a daily or weekly schedule. That’s a model I’m very familiar with.

During my interviews for both gigs, the questions were familiar, too. “Who’s the audience?” “What do you think they need to know several times a day?” “Why would they care?” “Do you really need to BE on social media?” (You’d be surprised how many people have never explored that last question in depth.) All GhostTweeters follow a similar path — it’s all about getting to know the client, their message and how they’d express themselves if they had the time and/or the ability to produce by themselves.

I started my journalism career as a teenager, which makes it safe to say I’ve been in the business more than 25 years. Age is a pretty big disadvantage since social media is for the young, right?

Not so fast. Recent statistics from the Pew Research Center show that Twitter has grown its 25-44 demographic significantly in the last year alone. And if my own evolving social media habits are a guide, Twitter is now my primary first-alert system for breaking news because, frankly, it’s faster than cable and it’s always on.

I think that means something for all writers — there’s room for good content everywhere.

Interesting WSJ op-ed from a client.

David Weild, former vice chairman of NASDAQ and now with Grant Thornton, outlines an interesting plan to revive the small IPO market today in the Wall Street Journal. Worth a read.

A post-SEO world? Tell me more.

I can’t speak for all writers — heck, maybe I shouldn’t even speak for a roomful of them — but one of my greatest frustrations in recent years has been the whole SEO (search engine optimization) phenomenon of writing news stories or commercial copy.  I understand the basic point — letters and numbers woven into an online post in such a way to lure unsuspecting search engines (OK, Google) to your lair, have your way with them and afterward watch your metrics quiver.

It’s not a completely foreign concept — repeated words and concepts have always been a fixture in ad and marketing copy. Rinse and repeat.

But still. Maybe its my age, maybe my stubbornness or just plain backwardness, but I’ve always gotten a queasy feeling when a prospective client asks me to do keyword-driven content (that was a term thrown at me once, so I’ll stick with it). “Depends on the keywords,” I’ve joked. But it’s a request that drains all creativity out of an assignment, at least for me.

That’s why this Wall Street Journal piece by Ben Elowitz gives me a bit of hope I can keep doing what I do. Humans — suggestible but ultimately unpredictable — will always be one step ahead of the robots. As for me, I’ll just keep on writing for the humans and see how it all shakes out.

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