So you created a collaborative space, found a bunch of customers to act as brand evangelists, encouraged user generated content, watched relationships created and developed, ran events and recognised rituals. Then the campaign was over. Either the budget got cut, someone got cold feet, a new better campaign was created, or the ROI just wasn’t there. Time to turn it off, shut it down, pack it up.

SilkCharm so charming in a hard hat.

SilkCharm so charming in a hard hat.

But there’s a problem. The community created the content you are about to delete. They invested time and energy and sometimes money into creating your campaign for you. They are not going to take the news well.

How do you turn off a social media campaign, remove user generated content, delete friendships and relationships, without damaging your brand? Look at the problems Disney had when they shut down a social virtual world (Virtual Magic Kingdom)! (Social Media is NOT an experiment)

ABC Island is shutting down part of the island, Melbourne Laneways in Second Life tomorrow. It’s always a challenge to change a community space, but in this case they did two things right. First, they had a closing down party. Everyone was invited, bulldozers and Men At Work stuff around. A dancefloor, DJ and disco balls completed the farewell celebration atmosphere. It’s always nice to run an Melbourne Goodbye_007Event to say thank you to the community – but critical to do so when you are taking away the space or tools. Second is that they are giving the space over to the community to create what they want. What will end up there, is anyone’s guess. Recognise the loss by giving a party or celebration, and then offer something back to say thankyou.

More than once I have seen a site that was shut down, spring back up again as a member-managed community somewhere else. Sometimes fractured and multiple communities appear. I think how you end a relationship is as important, perhaps more so than how you start a relationship. Particularly if you don’t want to annoy consumers and do brand damage in the process. Incidentally there is a particular irony with this Melbourne Laneways, Second Life (ABC Island) closure: The Premier of Victoria has a Melbourne Laneways Second Life video on his YouTube channel. How would you like the Premier as a miffed member of your community? Heh.