Let’s say you’ve heard good things about Twitter, but you’re far, far too busy and important to actually spend any time or effort on doing those awfully taxing things like writing tweets and engaging with your followers. You know, all that social media business.
What on earth can you do?
Well, you could hire a team of ghostwriters to do all your Twittering for you. I mean, who would know? And if they don’t work out, simply fire them. But hey: don’t forget to change your password, otherwise you can never be quite sure what they might do, especially if they’ve had a few drinks…
Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened to someone called Mark Davidson, whose Twitter account has been commandeered by a very disgruntled and recently-fired ghostwriter.
You see, it appears that Davidson – who bills himself as an ‘Internet sales & marketing professional’ on Twitter and a ‘Social Marketing & Communications Strategist’ on LinkedIn – is just so consumed by the realities of life that he had to hire a veritable team of ghostwriters to handle his tweets. Three, to be precise, although he clearly realised this was sheer madness and fired one. Problem was he forgot to change his password, and the ex-employee has quickly taken his revenge. Although not before downing a few whiskies.
Here’s how it rolled (in reverse order – first tweet is highlighted.)
This is funny enough, but what’s really incredible is how Davidson needed to pay three people to write just a handful of tweets each day (sometimes not even that much) for four years – the money quote, of course, is that “he can barely type social media much less know what it is.”
Two hours have passed and Davidson still hasn’t resumed control of his account, although to be fair it is still very early in California, where he’s based. It will be interesting to see what happens when he wakes up. This may turn out to be an elaborate spoof – or claimed as such – but somehow I don’t think it is.
Unfortunately using ghostwriters on Twitter isn’t anything new or particularly unusual – even some of Twitter’s biggest names have done it – but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. At best it’s lazy and duplicitous, and hardly puts the ‘social’ in ‘social media’, and at worst it all goes pear-shaped like this.
Which, perhaps, is exactly what the doctor ordered.
UPDATE: 9 hours after these tweets were posted, Mark Davidson has come back online. Or has he?
Looks like yet another ghostwriter has fled the nest. Can Davidson cope with just one? Well, if the last four years has taught us anything, it’s… no. Better get those resumes in ASAP, as demand for this post is going to be high.
SECOND UPDATE: Davidson’s account made a number of other strange tweets after this, including some meta observations about what was happening, a couple of other gems, and then some weird stuff about clowns. As nobody actually seemed to know if he was a real person or not, it wasn’t long until a website appeared asking that very thing.
Davidson eventually did return to Twitter – or, so it appears – and he’s now claiming the whole thing was a hoax, and has said as much to The Atlantic Wire, saying he did this to show that Twitter and bloggers aren’t the most reliable news source.
“Reading all these different blog posts, they build a fictional story around my fictional story and some of these are very well known blogs. Ultimately the real story is don’t believe what you read. For all the talk about authenticity and transparency, bloggers are missing the whole checks and balances.”
He might have a point if, hoax or not, the whole thing just wasn’t so utterly ridiculous, and the outcome so pat. So, the jury’s still out on exactly what happened here, and likely we’ll never know, as saying something isn’t what it appears isn’t proof of anything. Ironically, those same checks and balances are still missing (much like The Atlantic Wire citing me as the first person to notice Davidson’s tweets, which is inaccurate). So, you’ll have to judge for yourself.
Publicity stunt or not, he bagged a couple of thousand extra Twitter followers. Which, however you want to look at all this, isn’t bad for a day’s work.