Australian Big Brother have run into some problems – profile security, uploads to YouTube, audience members streaming content to fansites, and 3mobile revealing the new housemates ahead of time. Except for the security issue, none of it will impact the audience numbers and will probably increase it. Set the information free and all that user generated anarchy makes for an even more compelling story… (see SMH for backstory)
Yep, their problems are nothing compared to what GMTV in England are facing – Panorama revealed last night:
On April 23rd. It had been confirmed that for the past four years. GMTV had scammed up to £40 million from public prize phone ins by drawing the winners before the phone lines were even closed. All competitions have suspended until further notice. GMTV however released a statement saying that their competitions were run according to the Watchdog codes. They have recently said they are sacking the company, Opera, who ran the competitions. (from wikipedia)
More on the BBC site:
£1.80 – cost to enter competition£45,000 – estimated amount wasted on phone-ins each day£10m – estimated amount wasted on phone-ins each year4 – number of years alleged fraud has been happeningSource: Panorama, BBC
Now that‘s a straight out rip-off. Grrr.
Hmm, lessons to be learnt… Mazlow’s Hierachy of Needs appropos social networks (from a great book by Amy Jo Kim called Community Building on the Web, circa 1999) After you have taken care of the physiological needs – a sustainable identity online and a website that is more up than down – the second layer is security and safety. Rorting your consumers out of 40million pounds is not going to go down well. BB (3mobile et al) can fix their problems – quicksmart I hope – but I doubt GMTV will recover. Certainly not in the SMS-TV space…
So, social networks are about trust. Trust that the host site will look after the members and protect the content, and not rip them off, and that they will enable trusting relationships between members. If there is no trust, there is no community. Full stop.
And don’t panic: hackers and viruses and trolls and worms and all sorts of lurgies go through online communities like a dose of epsom salts every so often. It happens. Remember World of Warcraft’s virtual virus? (if you had an online pet, it might be a carrier of a virtual world virus that killed other gamers virtual pets). Have a strategic crisis management plan, be open with the community – even better, ask them for their help, fix it as soon as possible and, whatever you do, don’t ever ever be party to trying to pull the wall over their eyes! They trust YOU with their personal information, their relationships, their creative content and their lives; honour that. This is a different relationship than the one at arm’s length over a shop counter or through a shopping cart. Plus, try anything dodgy and you’ll be found out, that’s a sure bet. Ask GMTV.
Also, as a company, try changing your mission statement from implicit Trust Us which begs the question why? to We Trust You – and see where that takes you. Protect what is really important and then trust your members with the rest and they will trust you back manifold. Except the guy in the back row uploading to YouTube. Heh. 🙂