That of business, business rules, new media, and social media engagement - and how they all interact and relate to each other.
It's a tricky one.
Recently on Facebook, for example, we both noted a number of highly-public spats on businesspeoples' Profile Walls, some of which had become very personal, very negative, and on one occasion, very slanderous.
From a journalistic perspective, in terms of knowingly publishing defamatory statements about an individual - without a more than reasonable proof of the accusations/statements being true - is dodgy ground indeed in the Courts.
Damages are usually costly, as some high-profile celebrity vs. tabloid newspaper cases have borne out in recent years.
From a business perspective, it's just unprofessional - irrespective of the harms committed. Resolve it professionally in private, with legal assistance if appropriate. But don't drag the dirty linen out onto a social media platform. Commercial suicide.
From a Google/Search perspective, it's also worth remembering that unless you modify your Facebook Profile settings accordingly, everything there is going to be public on Google, with it staying there. Can you afford that?
So, although social media engagement can seem 'instant' 'immediate' 'now' and 'unregulated' remember this - it stays online for years, and once it's out there, the most valuable business tool you have - your Reputation - is taking a beating for all to see.
We both agreed, the old rules of business still apply - maybe even more so on social media platforms, such as Facebook.
Old rules including:
- Be consistent - whether it is your profile online or offline.
- Be generous - give real advice, real counsel in your expertise, and give it appropriately.
- Be authentic - the most effective 'selling' tool in your arsenal. Everybody loves authenticity.
- Be positive - people don't forget negative comments. They also gossip. Deadly combination.
- Be kind - as Plato once said "Be kind, for everybody is fighting their own battle".
- Be objective - if somebody is getting personal, remember they're working their own issues out, not yours.
Just because it's online, and not in front of a person, it doesn't mean there is a new code of conduct. The best commercial boundaries are always based on elements of the above points.
Social media engagement is just the same. The old rules of business apply here, too.