Post and Ghost

by | Oct 31, 2016 | EduSocial Blog, Strategy | 6 comments

What’s better than sitting around a campfire trying to scare the daylights out of your friends? Have you mastered the art of leaving people wondering what just happened?

Good for you – unless you’re doing it to your followers on social media.

Post and Ghost

While working on the NISM Social Media Job Study, I was interviewing a social media manager who casually mentioned the practice of “post and ghost” which – I’m sure you can guess – involves generating a post and then never returning to it. Followers may respond, ask questions and share your message, but as far as they know, you’re not around to see it.

How does it happen?

There’s a dangerous misconception around managing a social media presence. Many people – too many people­ – focus on one-way communication. They learn how to use platforms or they hire help to generate outbound messaging. And while that worked well in the early days of marketing (newspaper ads, television commercials and billboards), today’s savvy consumers want to be heard. Social media platforms are set up for two-way communication, and yet many marketers continue to talk at their customers instead of with them.

(And, yes, the other reason people post and ghost is that they’re busy and forget to circle back!)

What’s the damage?

Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. One of the greatest challenges with social media ROI is estimating the cost of what might have been. While it’s unlikely you had a follower who was testing you and actively measuring your response time, it’s very possible a follower was intrigued by your message and – while they were intrigued – you had the opportunity to solidify your relationship.

But you didn’t. You ghosted. At best, they’ve just forgotten about you. At worst, they remember you as someone who asks questions but doesn’t really care if anyone answers. And thanks to the inherent transparency of social media, everyone can see you ghosted.

How do you avoid it?

One of my pet peeves is an obvious statement billed as a solution. For example, I could tell you that one way to avoid post and ghost behavior is to not post and ghost. I’m confident you all know that, so let’s try a more meaningful set of tips.

  • Pay attention to your alerts – and don’t delete them until they’ve served their purpose. Commit time to organizing your social media alerts in a way that makes sense for you. If real-time alerts are distracting, set up a daily digest. If you don’t like messages on your phone, only have them come to your computer. And wherever you get your alerts, don’t delete them until you’ve actually had time to look at them. (Accidental deletions seem to happen most frequently on phones.) The important piece of this puzzle is to actively decide what process will work for you.
  • Respond with genuine interest when you can. I’m quite sure my marketing students are tired of hearing me tell them to be interestED, not just interesting. But in this self-absorbed world, demonstrating an interest in others is actually a fantastic way to stand out. When the situation is right, invite people to share their thoughts and ideas, their blog post or an accomplishment. If they’ve expressed interest in your work, try expressing interest in them.
  • Set measurable goals. Especially while you’re developing new habits, make it a goal to respond to a certain number of people or posts within a set period of time.
  • Don’t wing it. Scheduling time to be genuine might feel weird, but if you manage a busy schedule, it’s easy to lose track of time. Set reminders on your calendar to check in on your accounts to see what everyone is talking about! This doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, but do leave yourself enough time to respond.
  • Make it a team effort. If you have coworkers, integrate them into the response process! This is a double-win, by the way. If you have a team member monitor posts on certain days or leave them in charge or responding on certain platforms, not only do you get a break – they gain insight into what the community is talking about!

Other ideas for our readers? Questions about how to keep your content alive and well? Let us know what’s keeping you up at night in the comments below.

Author: Dr. Amy Jauman


Dr. Amy Jauman is the Chief Education Officer and Owner of Remotely Smart, a virtual company that provides professional development support to remote and traditional organizations. She is a Certified Social Media Strategist and Instructor with the National Institute for Social Media. Amy is also one of 58 members representing 12 countries in the inaugural class of the Prezi Educator Society. Previously she was the Social Media Director for Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (WeMN) and she currently serves as the marketing director for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Speakers Association. She is also an adjunct professor in the St. Catherine University Business Department and the St. Mary’s University of Minnesota MBA program.

You can learn more about her by connecting on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and her blog!


  1. Echo

    These are wonderful tips for social media management! I have been trying to get better at responding in a timely manner.

  2. Dan

    This is great advice, and it’s particularly painful to me to see people “Post and Ghost” like that because generating engagement of any kind is really tough when you’re just starting out. That engagement is so precious. Don’t waste it!

    • NISM Admin

      We couldn’t agree more Dan. Taking the time time to engage is why we have “social” media.

  3. Greta @ Pickles Travel blog

    Very good points! I’d never heard it phrased quite like tat but agree that social media needs to have more interaction than the one way street.

  4. Jenn

    I love the phrase “post & ghost”. The trouble I run into is wanting to respond right away when someone engaged with my content. This is reactive, and ends up being a time-suck.

    I guess that’s why the dream is to have a person or team manage engagement.

    • NISM Admin

      Time can definitely be a challenge Jenn. That is why it is so important to set aside time each day to engage with your online audience, on the way to your dream. 🙂

Submit a Comment