Most companies recognize the need for an online marketing presence and, at a bare minimum, have a company website. Many more have begun capitalizing on the use of social media in advertising and marketing their brands, often employing social media such as tweeting, “liking”, blogging and trying to maximize their digital presence using search engine optimization (SEO).
As with any new frontier, the boundaries involved in ownership of the digital media communities created, have become an increasingly divisive and litigated issue. Current trade secrets and other laws have not yet caught up with the booming social media marketing technology goldmine. This has been highlighted by a recent lawsuit between PhoneDog.com and Noah Kravitz.
The gist of the lawsuit is that Kravitz was running the PhoneDog’s Twitter account when he left the company and then subsequently changed the Twitter account name to his own, thereby in essence stealing 17,000 followers from the PhoneDog brand.
While the primary purpose of social media is to generate conversation and build brand awareness and not necessarily to sell, industry standards cited in this lawsuit indicate that there is economic value in social media followers. For example, the Twitter followers in this case, were likened to a customer list and given a value of $2.50 per month.
While the lawsuit can also be cited as an object lesson in ensuring your company takes steps to avoid the same land mine that PhoneDog did and manage their social media accounts so that they cannot be encroached by former employees; it also clearly emphasizes that social media and social media marketing is a lucrative and valuable pursuit in marketing one’s business today. Putting it in real time monetary terms, today the San Diego Chargers’ website indicates a Twitter following of 123,845 followers – at $2.50 each, that’s a $309,612.50 value, per month.
Mood: Following the money