BBC Click Online fails social media 101 and looses trust with story about Facebook

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/05/06 1 views

in z uncategorized

    Building trust in your brand – BBC or Business Wire - took a lot of effort. Loosing it by mishandling social media takes a few mistakes only as the cases below illustrate.

    For bloggers, this post shows that being given a Google PageRank of 9 does not mean you should re-distribute or cite content without doing a quality and accuracy check first.
    Using social media to reach your target audience means you should use it properly and, especially, handle critical comments appropriately.

Social networking sites rely on connections and communication. As a result, you are required to provide a certain amount of personal information. In fact, in cases of places such as LinkedIn or Xing, you have to reveal a lot of information about yourself to take better advantage of the tools these sites offer. The challenge is to decide how much information people should reveal.

So I got curious when Brendan Cooper sent me a link regarding a BBC Click Online story.

BBC exposes Facebook flaw

Unfortunately, bloggers picked up the BBC story. One of those was Read Write Web:

Facebook Hacked Again

What can we learn from the BBC Click Online and Business Wire mistakes?

I thought I write and list some of the basic lessons we can get from the BBC Click Online disaster:

1) Knowing about and failing to remedy a problem

BBC has had problems making the commenting feature work properly for

more than one year (see our story link to the right via Twitter).

In fact, BBC has acknowledged both:

– being aware of the problem AND

– so far being unable to fix it.

If the image fails to show see better version here: BBC unable to fix problems with accepting comments on its blogs > 1 year

My advice: If you know about the problem AND your customers’ unhappiness about it, FIX it yesterday. You cannot afford the damage this causes to the brand as well as your reputation.

2) Failing to handle errors in posts properly

We are human. Hence, we do make mistakes. When it occurs, it might not be that tragic because one of your friendly readers may come to your rescue. Such a comment reduces your chances for being embarrassed or getting to be the defending party in a law suit.

We all make errors. The key is handling these properly. Dominic Jones reports about Business Wire’s lack of following good practice here:

Business Wire fumbles error on its blog

What makes this case a bit worrisome is the fact that a firm making its living from publishing other people’s press releases should know how to follow best practice. Accordingly, it should either publish a correction with giving credit to the individual who left the comment or do that AND publish the comment.

My advice: If you made an error and somebody points it out to you, just be grateful and say thank you, apologize and publish an Addendum at the bottom of the post.

As well, give credit to the person who pointed out the error and if at all feasible, publish the comment the individual left. For instance, we had to improve our case in point here and acknowledged the individual who forced us to sharpen our thinking (see bottom – Addendum):

unified communications – what it means with Twitter, Friendfeed, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us

Unfortunately, Business Wire has been caught several times not being willing to admit a mistake.

Again, trust is earned and failure to deal with errors in postings according to best practice erodes trust and hurts your brand.

3) Failing to publish comments asking for corrections

Here is the BBC Click Online example:

Facebook – social engineering attack

We pointed out to BBC that the story was not accurate. In fact, taking a few precautionary measures is what it takes to minimize this risk. We discuss these measures and issues in more detail in our EU-IST post for information security experts here:

BBC Click Online fails IT security 101 with story about Facebook

Interesting is that when you write and leave a comment for the moderator as we did, BBC also points out the following:

    “The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.”

I left a shortened version of the comment I wrote on BBC’s post on Brendan Cooper’s blog who had sent me the link in the first place:

BBC exposes Facebook flaw

My advice: If you get a comment that points out you may have exaggerated your story, made an error or whatever: Go ahead and publish the comment before the weekend is over (BBC did none of that but just ‘lost’ the comment).

As a blogger, if you distributed a link to a story such as the BBC Click Online one that might be inaccurate, follow Brendan Cooper and publish the comment left on your blog about this.

As a blogger, if you feel not qualified to respond to a comment left on your blog, again follow Brendan Cooper’s example. Publish the comment on your blog, while refraining from writing a response to the comment :-) … be smart.

Bottom Line

My experience with BBC’s Click Online story taught me the following three things:

A) BBC has to learn to cope with the volume of participation it gets from its audience – it is inexcusable that an organization with such a highly respected brand apparently is unable or unwilling to fix the problem after more than 12 months.

B) Social media is a tool that provides global reach but, as importantly, it is accessible by your audience during 24 hours each day.

Hence, failing to put up comments during weekends or days off may have worked before the Internet. Nevertheless, such an approach as used by BBC or Business Wire – we take care of the comments after the weekend – fails to keep the participation and the conversation with your clients going – an opportunity lost:

BBC Click Online – no comments posted between Friday afternoon – Monday night

C) Trust is earned, not simply bestowed. Hence, to earn viewers’ or readers’ trust to assure future participation you have to publish all comments.

Here, the Business Wire and BBC Click Online examples illustrate how these two different companies failed the social media 101 course. Do not do the same, beware and take care.

Besides, surely BBC Click Online staff understands these issues. As the story with Facebook illustrates, however, it failed to pass this simple test:

BBC Click Online fails IT security 101 with story about Facebook

What I find unfortunate is that many bloggers (see links at the top of this post) failed to look at the BBC Click Online story carefully enough before going ahead and re-publishing its findings.

Let us be aware that a Google PageRank of 9 does not mean all content is of the highest quality level – it just means you are popular.

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