Branding

Ghost Writers in the Realtor Sky

Author
Marc Davison
No.
701
Date
06/12/12

You kiss your kids.

You hug your spouse.

There are no stand-ins for these acts of personal connection.

Boo

Michael McClure posed this question on his very popular Raise The Bar Facebook forum:

“How do you feel about services that ‘ghost write’ content (say, for a blog) for a fee?”

Given my history of opinion on this topic, I decided to spend some time reading through all the comments to see what others thought.

Some responses leaned toward acceptance.

Jeff Chalmers, wrote:

“Doing it yourself it is not always realistic in today’s fast-paced business environment. There are plenty of mediums where the owner of the content is not the writer or creator. Let’s consider the importance, relevance and cost-effectiveness of utilizing freelancers. Why are they so important? Efficiency.”

Life today is like a box of chocolates on a sweltering summer day. Better consume them all quickly or else. Or if you can’t, give some to others.

Efficiency is part of the skillset of the smart entrepreneur who offloads the pesky tasks to others so they can personally attend to the big things that matter.

Is blogging a pesky thing you should offload or the big thing the agent should own?

Given the pressures placed on Realtors by the flocks of social media evangelists blogging was often a magic bullet solution. Their vision of what wonders would come from act of self publishing was at first rejected, then questioned and finally overwhelmingly accepted. Many jumped on its bandwagon.

But over time, many discovered a different truth about blogging. It’s hard. It required time. Creativity. And a seemingly bottomless reservoir of  untapped content – elements many did not posses.

But the blog was a living, breathing asset. It needed to be fed.

Enter 3rd party ghost writers and content providers. And with them a polarizing ideal would play out within the forum.

Opinions ensued. Many are for it. They believe the consumer could care less what the agent writes so why should the agent.

They aren’t wrong. If they believe apathy exists and therefore don’t care what they publish, they manifest their own belief.

Others compared agents to politician, celebrities and columnists – people who depend heavily on ghost writers  for their speeches, their dialoge and filler content.
Are these fair comparisons?
Perhaps the answer rests in a subtle nuance: They addresses the masses. Agents connect with people personally. Within that connection, relationships form. One an agent hopes will endure for life.

Risking that is a frightening thought. One that I believe is slightly below the bar of common sense.

Intimacy

By design, a blog is a personal journal the writer shares with the reader. If it were tailor made for any industry, real estate is it.

Back in the halcyon days of 2005, blogging gave agents a chance to step out behind the curtain and free themselves up from the Oz-like pretense of their canned website.

The blog was empowerment. Self publishing liberated them from the dizzying cycle of marketing spin.

They became the media.

Agents who did it right built readership. Subscribers. People were drawn in by the agent’s true personality otherwise hidden behind glamour shots, caricatures and templates.

A new paradigm of lead gen emerged. Jay Thompson witnessed it first hand.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met a buyer or seller for the first time face-to-face and they’ve said something along the lines of, ‘you are exactly what we expected you to be like.’ That came from reading my blog. Through it, they got to know me. And one day, decided to pick up the phone and ask me to come list their home.”

Imperfect words. Real human thoughts. Genuine sentiments. These are the very things that make you, you. The you that is your personal brand.

Can a ghost writer who writes for you and publishes for you without your involvement conjure you up? Inna Hardison doesn’t buy it.

“I’ve met very few writers who were capable of inhabiting someone else’s persona so completely as to really be able to project the other person onto the page in a way that doesn’t seem disingenuous.”

Disingenuous is a term often used to stereotype agents. It’s also the very reason most people no longer believe in advertising, which arguably might be what ghost-written content is.

That’s reason enough to oppose it. If not, maybe this is.

Ethics

There’s no rule that says agents must write the blogs they publish. But why take credit for that content? Giving a byline attribution to a contributing writer may in fact make your blog – and you – more credible.

Todd Carpenter believes differently.

“Where’s the crime (in using a ghost writer)? With all the issues that affect professionalism in this industry, hiring someone to write your content hardly seems like an issue to be passionately against.”

I believe this strikes at the heart of professionalism.

Pretending to be someone you aren’t by using a photo of yourself from 30 years ago might be considered a small, excusable practice of deception, but there’s an air of malfeasance around the pretense of doing something you haven’t done.

This is more than a grey area for a profession sworn to a code of ethical behavior.

Greg Fischer sees the black and white:

“Jay’s Thompson’s blog is awesome. But If I found out someone else wrote it, I wouldn’t be interested in hearing what he had to say again.”

Neither would I.

Sucky

Jeff Belonger asked:

“If someone thanks you in a comment for your information and you thank them back, is that lying? Misleading?”

Greg believes, “It’s just sucky.”

Many within the Raise the Bar forum agree – a great stance for a group of agents attempting to define what the bar of status quo is and spending time trying to raise it.

There is a minority group who actively believe offloading blog writing to Casper is OK because they lack the time and skill. And they all seemed to pen those comments themselves over the course of two days of posting.

Very interesting.

What do you believe?