Failed Viral Marketing or Sheer Incompetence: Twitter Ghostwriters Gone Wild

The latest “Meh, it’s a slow news day” story comes courtesy of Mark Davidson, a self-described “Internet marketing and sales professional” who managed to scrounge up over 55,000 Twitter followers. Is he an Internet rock star? Does he hold the secret to making millions of dollars from the pantsless luxury of your home office? Is he BFFs with Lady Gaga? It’s a mystery as to how he accumulated so many followers, but regardless of his method, Davidson has a pretty strong Twitter account. Must be a lot of work for one dude to maintain such a popular profile.

Or so we thought. A couple nights ago, Davidson’s Twitter account supposedly got hijacked while he slumbered, no doubt dreaming of high conversion rates and new Facebook layouts. It turns out that the so-called Internet marketing expert employed not one, not two, but three ghostwriters to maintain his Twitter account for him. Because you know, we Internet marketers are as busy as Jay-Z and need to hire a whole PR team to manufacture 140 character tweets on our behalf. Either Davidson has too much money than he knows what to do with or the economy is really that bad that people are desperate enough to pretend to be a middle-aged white dude for a pittance.

Davidson realized that paying three people to write tweets for him isn’t the smartest use of his money, especially considering an order of pajama jeans now comes with a free men’s crewneck t-shirt. So he did what most businesses have done in this struggling economy: he cut one of his writers loose. The only problem is Davidson forgot to change his Twitter account password, and what better way for the jilted employee to express his frustration and anger at getting cut loose than to tweet from his former boss’s account:

"Getting served" on Twitter is pretty dorky

Naturally, a couple of online publications went all “Oh snap! No he di’n’t!” and covered the gaffe. Some skeptics think that this is a viral marketing stunt on Davidson’s behalf because it doesn’t seem feasible for a random guy to employ three ghostwriters to maintain a social media profile for him. If this is viral marketing though, why would Davidson intentionally tarnish his image and reputation as an Internet marketing expert by making it seem like he’s too stupid to handle his own online presence? Even if this is some weird reputation management viral marketing stunt, it seems pretty forced. Basically it’s the “Alien vs. Predator” scenario: no matter which way you look at it, he loses.

All sorts of conspiracy theories are afoot now, with a website titled “IsMarkDavidsonReal.com” popping up and wondering if the dude even actually exists. Davidson’s own Twitter stream is a mix of “in on the joke” type updates (“WANTED: Social Media Account Ghost Writer. We’ve recently had an opening…”), frustration (“I am so not dealing with this **** today”), and alleged hacking evidence (the “This account has been suspended for unusual activity” update). Whether or not the whole thing is a hoax, we can learn two things from this incident:

  1. If you fire someone, make sure you change your freakin’ passwords
  2. If you’re thinking up viral marketing ideas, don’t settle on the one that makes you look like an idiot

So what do you think, was this Twitter mishap intentional on Davidson’s part or is he just stupid and naive?

About Rebecca Kelley

Rebecca is the Editor in Chief for Reputation Management, an online resource for businesses and individuals who want to keep their online reputation in check. In her spare time she trains for marathons and triathlons and writes about her experience at Mediocre Athlete, as well as makes fun of her Asian mother over at My Korean Mom.

Comments

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    First, I love your writing style and among the thousands of blog posts written about my Twitter account surrounding the events that took place on September 22nd, this one is my absolute favorite.

    I’m a huge fan of My Korean Mom. (Your blog has provided me with a great deal of insight about Korean culture and hours of amusement.)

    ” It’s a mystery as to how he accumulated so many followers… ”

    I can answer that for you. It’s from writing tweets like the ones you’ve posted above. You probably aren’t familiar with my account because I took a long hiatus from Twitter (About 14 months with an absolute 6 month absence.). It’s difficult to maintain a Twitter account and work 75+ hours a week. I returned to using my personal Twitter account towards the end of June.

    Most of those followers are from 2009, where I ranked somewhere between #1 and #25 on the Twitter Grader Top 100 Elite list.

    Anyway, I’m a fan. I love your work. I just wanted to tell you that personally.

    The Korean Mom I’ve been dating since last November will be impressed that I made your blog. Major score! Thank you so much!

    Mark

    P.S.

    I don’t do any marketing on my personal Twitter account. What I wrote is true, I’m way too cheap to hire myself. :-)

  2. Viral marketing needs some extra effort for promotion.Once it is liked by the customers then we need not require to promote it.There are number of factors which affect the campaign directly or indirectly.The quality of service or products,cost of the product and concept of the campaigns etc. affect the viral marketing.If all the facts are considered then it will be effective for our products or services.