The New York Times business section today (which I never have the chance to peruse in my Canadian home city -- excpet on Sunday -- but read over breakfast this morning since I am in Houston on business) has two front page stories on blogging which raise the value of authenticity in social media and the potentially terrible consequences of anonymous reputation bashing.
After a couple of high profile, and from a reputation perspective, damaging missteps in social media marketing, Wal-Mart seems to have got it right with its new Check Out corporate blog. Written by a group of Wal-Mart employees, primarily technology and entertainment buyers, the basic difference is that the new voice is authentic. Today's post by "Alex" is simple, friendly and in no way related to sales or overt corporate positioning. Nice.
More disturbing is an article about the suicide of advertising executive Paul Tilley who had apparently been the subject of some nasty personal attacks in a couple of "sharp-tongued" blogs (AgencySpy and AdScam). Slagging personal reputations online is not new. And it is not evident that such slagging in this case triggered this unfortunate death. What is troubling is that according to the article some of the offensive posts were anonymous as were some of the attendant comments.
It may be true as the writer of one of the offending AgencySpy pieces (who remains anonymous) that "This new medium has different rules and that may include the scope of who and who isn't in the public eye." But if you are going to slag someone, reveal yourself.