How to Destroy Members’ Trust in One Easy Step
First, my example. We were trying to start an experiment with a small social media vendor. Along came the proposed contract. For the most part, it was standard-issue, except for a clause which gave the vendor “an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license” to do whatever the hell it wanted with user (i.e., member) content.
What? I am NOT going to be the guy who has to explain to Dr. Marcus Welby why his comment on health system reform ended up on, say, a movie celebrity gossip site. (Not that the vendor would have done that, but it would have been theoretically permissible.)
So I said no way; we can’t do that. The vendor initially didn’t want to change anything, so we started to walk away. Well, the vendor relented, and we started talking. Soon we understood each other, and came to a verbal agreement that suited our needs and theirs. (We’re still buttoning up the paperwork.)
I have to admit that until then, the consultant-speak about the primacy of trust seemed liked a lot of hoo-hah to me. A nice book, something nice to think about, but the be-all and end-all of business? Not so much.
But consider what associations are all about. Our members (and presumably staff) share a common interest, and maybe even a passion, about something. The members send in their money, we do some work together, and hopefully we do something that makes a difference. It’s a relationship of sorts – not a terribly intimate one, but a relationship nonetheless.
I didn’t think so.
The better solution: Have members proactively opt in to allow their content to be sold or shared. This gives them control over their identity and their content, and preserves their trust in you (it may even build trust). Establishing this as an opt-out decision treats them simply as a limitless revenue stream. In times like this, an opt-out strategy can be tempting, but it’s a losing proposition.
Why? Being a member of an organization is different from being a customer. The relationship is different, even with money involved. There are many ways to screw up trust, and treating members like ATMs is only one of them.