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Posts from the ‘Social Media’ 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.

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.

My Life as a Ghost (Part One)

I’ve been collaborating with companies and executives on books, articles and web content since I started my business in 1998. My background is in business journalism, so my target client tends to be a professional with plenty of expertise in his or her career area but not much time to focus on a book project or serial content like blogs or social media.

I like “ghostwriting” as a search engine word. It’s generally understood. It tends to conjure up a salable image of that part of my writing and editing business, so that’s fine.

But if I’ve learned anything as an independent writer, it’s that one ghostwriter does not fit all projects. And I definitely know this from some of the strange calls I’ve gotten for ghosting work… Read more

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