Suppose a government department sets up a discussion group in LinkedIn and then, when it doesn’t like the tone or content of the discussion taking place, the comments are taken down.

“It would never happen!” I hear you exclaim. “To do so would go against all recognised best practice for the social internet! To do so would invite derision, hostility even, from members of the community! The government department would immediately suffer in terms of credibility and integrity and important relationships could be materially damaged!”

It’s true. In a perfect social media world, these things would never happen.

But, the real world, social media and otherwise, is not perfect. The marketing people working in larger organisations, including government ones, have to juggle a heavy workload with other priorities, political, public, personal and commerical. They often have to manage expectations derived of a broad range of experiences, ambitions and agenda.

Never mind navigating a tight rope, it can be like a journey through a minefield. One upon which people’s livelihoods could depend.

Of course, my advice would be never to take down comments of any member of a community unless they were hateful, libelous, slanderous or contained commercially critical information. I would advocate getting full buy-in to the concepts and benefits of using social networks from all corners of the organisation in advance of any engagement to avoid bumps down the road.

But the real world doesn’t always allow for what we want or what we know is best. Sometimes life gets in the way of our ideals. Enough said.