TVNZ has launched the Facebook page for Seven Sharp today, and in a master stroke of social media-ing, the new current affairs show already has over 30,000 likes.
The incredible social ascent wasn't the work of any technological hi-jiinks, says TVNZ spokesperson Stephanie Taylor. The network merely repurposed the page (and likes) of the programme's predecessor, Close Up.
"We spoke to Facebook about our decision to change the page over, and it was agreed that as Seven Sharp is a continuation of our 7pm current affairs programming, the change was appropriate," says Taylor.
Where Close Up attempted to be a hard nosed (and bristly moustached) current affairs programme, TVNZ has signalled Seven Sharp will be a more lighthearted (and younger-skewed) take on the day's news. So is it fair for TVNZ to assume Close Up fans will automatically be Seven Sharp fans?
The issue is TVNZ does not disclose on Seven Sharp's page that it is the old Close Up page. If someone were to stumble upon it following the show's premiere on 4 February, they'd assume Seven Sharp was incredibly popular. Advertisers who are increasingly placing an importance on a programmes ability to bring in the audience on and off the TV might be mislead by the figure on Seven Sharp's page, unaware that the show's fans might never have actively signed up to be labelled as such.
Updated 5:30pm: Social Media NZ founder John Lai says repurposing an old Facebook page is very common, and this form of "digital recycling" is especially prevalent among larger brands.
He doesn't think the procedure is unethical, but says brands should communicate these kinds of changes transparently.
"If there's advanced warning from the old page letting the users know what the page is to become, then that is fine as it gives people the option to unlike the page. It's a same concept as a new shop with new branding," says Lai.
"Common sense in the real world works wonders in the offline world too."
NZ Herald media commentator John Drinnan doesn't seem very impressed with the whole situation, tweeting that anything less than a full disclosure would be tantamount to lying.
@hdpanews 31,421 "likes" within an hour - amazing!— John Drinnan (@Zagzigger) January 18, 2013
TVNZ says if Seven Sharp's new fans feel Shanghai'd they're always free to unlike the show.
So social media gurus, ninjas, and unicorns of Stoppress - what's your gut feeling on this? Is TVNZ acting ethically in repurposing the Close Up page? Is there a line where it is appropriate and not appropriate to use this path?