My current daily routine includes microblogging on behalf of one of our clients. Apparently the majority of the internet thinks this practice is a bit controversial.
"Good agencies do not hire Social Media Strategists" is the unequivocal position of Sean Howard's Craphammer blog; over on ConversationAgent, Valeria Maltoni takes a more research-led approach to the issue.
Her sample recognises that outsourced social media activity can make sense - as long as the client-agency relationship is one of cooperation, not fire-and-forget delegation - but that authenticity is valued more highly in the sociosphere than in other communication channels.
Most recently, the American Marketing Association (AMA) published a report into social media ethics, in which SEO consultant Wayne Hurlbert claims, "if you're pretending to be someone else or pretending to be an organization you're not, then all trust is lost." Yikes.
So can what I'm doing -what the AMA report calls "GhostTweeting" - ever be okay? Given the right circumstances, yes.
Companies and brands without a social media presence run the risk of appearing less concerned with their customers than their competitors. But how is an organisation with no prior experience of the big online conversation supposed to teach itself how to behave?
The learning process for any new skill involves making mistakes; but as I've discussed before, mistakes made in the sociosphere are public, ineradicable and can seriously damage an organisation's reputation if mishandled. Is it any wonder some organisations prefer to delegate some of that responsibility, at least in the short term?
I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not. The Twitter account I'm handling represents the brand, not an individual person like the CEO, and I am (if indirectly) employed by the brand. And while I'm nurturing an engaged, receptive audience for this client, I'm also drawing up guidelines that will allow them to nurture it themselves in the future, resources permitting. I don't think there's anything unethical or inauthentic about that.
What do you think? Would you still trust a brand if you discovered it outsourced its social media activity?