I do spend a fair amount on social media like Twitter and Facebook, and – although most of my professional acquaintances are non-Italian – I have come to know a few Italian “bloggers” who have been early users of social media and advise enterprises about the dos and don’ts of online engagement.
Recently I came across a guy who leads an industry association and has thousands of friends and followers on Facebook and other social media. He is also an avid blogger, and blogs on new technologies, industry events and web 2.0. He is also invited very often to various events, unconferences and so forth as an effective and energetic participant.
Last week he posted on his blog and Facebook wall a short comment congratulating the mayor of an Italian city for his innovative web 2.0 initiatives after an event he had been invited to in that city (he also posted a picture featuring them together). As he was not specific about such initiative, and I do cover government 2.0, I posted a comment asking for some information. He replied inviting me to look at the event web site, which I had already without getting much illumination.
I had almost forgot this, when I noticed that a guy who lives in the same city (I think he’s a photographer of sort) posted a rather direct comment on the blogger’s wall, accusing him to be too nice to the mayor in return for having been invited to the event. A rapid exchange between the two followed, with the photographer using strong language and with the blogger’s replies being only slightly less impolite.
This morning, when I checked to see whether there had been any development, I noticed that the blogger had deleted the whole series of posts. Then I posted on his Facebook wall, asking which sort of personal policy he used to deal with comments and posts, as I believe he also advises his clients and give public speeches about this. This was a genuine interest of mine, which I thought would interest also his readers (and that’s why I asked the question in public rather than by sending a private message).
Guess what? He deleted my question too. Now, I barely know this guy, but I appreciate he is a well respected expert in my country. I wonder whether he advises his clients to just delete posts that may sound annoying or potentially critical. My take is that, besides obscene, illegal and inappropriate content, deleting a comment on a blog or on another social media is counterproductive. There is no obligation to allow comments or to allow people to write on one’s Facebook wall: but when that permission is granted, you are not expected to delete content just because you do not like it. When you choose to be on social media to reach out to many and increase your visibility, then you are also supposed to play by the social norms in those communities or at least to explain your personal policy to set people’s expectations.
I still remember Madonna’s t-shirt claiming that “Italians do it better” which gave us some (mostly undeserved) pride at the time. However, when it comes to the use of social media, at least judging from this expert, I suspect this is no longer the case.