Watch this very funny Blackadder film clip.
But watch it with these rules in mind.
Imagine the action is taking place not in a Royal Palace but in an unbranded headquarters building in Covent Garden.
Imagine that the heavily powdered thespians are actually senior Facebook executives.
And imagine that Blackadder is saying “Twitter” rather than “Macbeth”.
Do all those things and you’ll have a pretty good impression of last week’s Facebook FMCG Marketing summit.
Actors don’t say “Macbeth”, they say “the Scottish play”.
And Facebook execs don’t say “Twitter”, they say “other platforms”.
To the point where it becomes a “thing”. The audience nudges each other every the phrase “other platforms” is used. There may even be giggles. Little pockets of amused people all of which have independently arrived at the same private joke.
It’s a shame, because the Facebook people were all impressive.
Also Luc Delany who was a fellow speaker at the Institute of Promotional Marketing’s social media conference earlier in the day.
All smart, articulate, approachable people.
But not allowed to say “Twitter”.
I obviously can’t prove that this is Facebook policy.
I can say that it is palpable when you see several Facebook people speak on the same day.
Some of Luc’s slides and case studies from the the IPM conference in the morning were used by other speakers at the FMCG summit in the afternoon.
So Facebook’s internal comms systems appear to work better than those of most agencies when it comes to sharing knowledge, sharing IP and making it easy to make one’s colleagues look smart.
And I bet that cultural norms spread just as easily. Whether it is a conscious policy decision or whether it is an unwritten ground rule (culture is observed, not laminated) it is the cultural norm at Facebook not to say the T word.
This is mildly amusing for an audience member at an FMCG summit.
It is also mildly frustrating.
If they don’t say Twitter they sure as hell don’t have summit hashtags.
(I tweeted on #FacebookSummitWithNoTwitterHashtag at one point.)
(To make a point.)
A summit hashtag would have made sense.
It would have allowed for curation of summit content in one place.
It would have allowed delegates (it was a big audience) to say hi to each other, converse and maybe begin useful business relationships.
And we would have been grateful to Facebook for making it happen.
Facebook should be big enough and self-confident enough to acknowledge that Twitter does that conference comment curation job better than their own platform.
Failure to do so raises awkward questions about their culture and erodes credibility.
And their people deserve better.