Lockdowns work against our very basic human instincts to gather in like minded groups – in membership groups. It seems like a long while since we could all gather freely in the social tribes of our choice. In many ways the Lockdowns have shown that we are less Solo Homo Sapien and more Team Homo Membership.
The question is – if you run a membership organisation, how secure is your membership? How honest are they? And how much control do you have over fake members?
What is a social network anyway?
A loose description of a real world ‘social network’ is just a group of people with a shared interest; be that a knitting circle, a book club or something more serious like the Royal Society of Chartered Associate Fellow Members (I made that up but you get the idea).
Membership organisations are based on the idea of in-groups and out-groups. The in-group (the members) share something; ideology, qualifications, skills or other attributes that the out group do not have. Membership organisations also offer privileges to their members in the form of access to buildings, up to date information, scarce resources and often professional insurance. Fake members are free loading and social loafing on real members good will.
Organising and policing an organisation’s membership is not an easy thing to do – especially when the in-group and out-group get mixed up which happens in one of three ways;
- Someone claims to be a member (when they are not)
- Someone claims to be a member ( when they are but you’ve lost the records)
- Someone claims to not be a member when in fact they are.
Admittedly scenario three is quite rare, but think of being a member of the ‘club’ called HMP LongLartin and not wanting to share that information too widely.
The second scenario is just bad housekeeping – but happens more often than you think, given multiple digital membership platforms and rolling memberships expiring, being suspended, revoked and so on.
Bad house keeping is risky – embarrassing for all parties and costly given that it costs 10x more to acquire a new member than it does to retain one…
The hardest scenario to crack is the first – Just how do you manage members who pretend to be members when they are not?
Managing Fake members.
What do fake members, or people passing off as members cost your organisation? Do they access services and premises? Or are they external to the organisation – passing off expertise, skills, insurance when in fact they have none of these.
What is the reputational cost to your organisation of fake members? And what is the cost of tracking down fake members, cease and desist letters, court cases? Can you even count the intangible damage to your brand?
How to guarantee membership authenticity
At BlockMark Technologies we have developed a certificate issuing platform for accreditors and certifying bodies to issue a variety of certificates. Of course on one level, Memberships are just a type of certificate – often with different levels ( think bronze, silver gold, associate or fellow) and often have different jurisdictions and durations.
Membership schemes quickly get complicated and unmanageable without a simple system to issue, renew, revoke and suspend members. BlockMark Registry is a cyber secure simple issuing system to help manage that.
From claim to proof
There is a world of difference between claiming to be a member and being able to prove it. The simple solution is for a verifier to be able to return to the original issuer of the certificate – and to log and audit of the verification too.
Of course members often do not just want to be members – being social animals – we like to display our memberships.
Sometimes we have to display our membership to be verified or for professional reasons. Other times we do so for status or reassurance for our customers and contacts – a form of professional showing off. The challenge is then how does an organisation control theres third party displays? How do they retain control of it’s digital assets?
There’s the technical display which is often annoying (squashed image files/grayscale/ wrong colour/blurred and so on) but there’s also the thorny question of where the digital badge is displayed and how.
And that’s where the BlockMark Registry display widget comes in- Now available for email footers and for web embeds of digital badges. And because it’s centrally controlled by the Issuer of the membership – version control is built in; if you change your badge or rebrand then simply uploading a new badge to the Membership Template will ripple automatically through all of the member displays. No more out of date badges, or wrong badges – or fakes display of badges.
Members need control of their membership. But as issuers you also need to have control. Without full control of your membership the only things you have to lose are members, income, and most valuable of all – your reputation.
At BlockMark we are working with a number of membership organisations all with different requirements. If you want a demo of our membership issuing platform and digital badge control please get in touch.