No Time for Social Media? Hire a Ghost!

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By Daniel Casciato

Earlier this month, I was invited to attend the 2nd Annual Healthcare New Media Marketing Conference presented by Q1 Productions in Chicago. One of the presentations on the first day focused on how to overcome internal resistance and prove the value of social media to a healthcare organization’s leadership team.

Although healthcare blogger Ed Bennett, of the University of Maryland Medical System, reported in May that 730 hospitals have an active social media presence with more than 1,400 sites, research has shown that leadership buy-in is the number one reason health systems are not yet implementing social media initiatives as part of their marketing and communications mix.

One of the major reasons cited was the lack of employee resources. During the networking portion of the conference, I also heard many of the marketing professionals in attendance lament over this as well: many PR and marketing staffs are already stretched thin and no one can devote the time that social media deserves. In fact, in the TweetChat during the presentation, someone posted: “The reason hospitals don’t have blogs is b/c the marketing guy knows no one will write the post ongoing.”

So I immediately tweeted back, “Blogs do take a lot of time. That’s why you hire freelance writers!”

In addition to helping my clients better identify which social media channels are the most effective for them and how many channels they should use, I also ghostwrite their tweets, Facebook updates, and even LinkedIn profiles.

I remember I once posted on my Facebook status that I was ghost blogging for a client. A few snarky comments aside, one of my friends asked if it was an ethical practice. She says she’d be reluctant to hire a social media ghostwriter. She’s not alone. It’s a common concern, especially among healthcare organizations since they are always concerned about the impact of privacy laws such as HIPPA.

If you’re going to hire a social media ghostwriter, here are some guidelines to follow to work effectively with your cyber alter ego and avoid crossing that ethical line.

Use Their Voice

Make sure your ghostwriter is using the 2nd or 3rd person voice when ghost blogging or ghost tweeting. Once they start using “I,” they’re lying to your audience.

Plan Ahead

Meet with your ghostwriter and discuss the direction and scope of your social media content. Create a social media calendar and stick with the plan and a schedule.

Be a Guide

Give your ghostwriters topics to cover. For clients who want me to tweet on their behalf, they’ll email me some topic ideas, thoughts on a current event, or relevant news they want to share. I turn that communication into a tweet or a blog post.

Review and Approve the Content

Always maintain editorial control. Be aware of what content is out there because it represents your brand. Never let your writer post anything without your approval.

Guest Instead of Ghost

If you have a blog, open it up to guest bloggers who can provide content. Copyblogger.com and SocialMediaExaminer.com does a great job with this. They’re still providing very useful and relevant information, but giving credit to the true authors.

Ghost Edit

If you want to write your own content, you can still use a ghost writer to edit your copy. One of my clients writes all of her blog posts and tweets, but sends me her drafts for me to polish and post.

Have you been using a ghostwriter for your social media platforms? What are some of the pros and cons? Email me at writer@danielcasciato.com and we’ll share your responses in a future column.

Daniel Casciato is a full-time freelance writer. In addition to writing for the Western PAHospital News, he’s also a social media coach and a social media ghostwriter. For more information, visit www.danielcasciato.com, follow him on Twitter @danielcasciato or friend him on Facebook (facebook.com/danielcasciato).

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