The New York Times recently covered a lawsuit regarding the ownership of a Twitter account and the value of a Twitter follower. These issues may not be novel in the social media space; however, they may be novel issues in a court of law.
The lawsuit is between PhoneDog and Noah Kravitz. Some of the facts appear to be in dispute. However, it appears that Noah Kravitz was tweeting on behalf of PhoneDog, amassed a significant number of Twitter followers, and is no longer associated with PhoneDog. Now PhoneDog wants to be compensated for lost Twitter followers.
I don't want to speculate on the actual ownership of the Twitter account because not all of the facts have been publicly aired. However, PhoneDog is claiming that each Twitter follower is worth $2.50 and according to Forbes PhoneDog is also claiming that Kravitz's twitter account is worth $42,500 per month.
PhoneDog's Twitter follower valuation claim and damage assessment is clearly erroneous and not supported by any facts. As George Orwell might say, some Twitter followers are more equal than others. For example, in August one of my posts was retweeted by someone who has a large number of Twitter followers and within an hour I received more than 100 retweets. Receiving retweets may increase interest in my blog; however, I didn't obtain any new clients who stated on their client intake form that I saw a tweet about my blog post, read my blog post because of the tweet, and then hired my law firm based on a tweet and/or my blog post.
Furthermore, Social Media Credential Fraud may distort the valuation of a Twitter follower. There are some self described social media strategists who are intentionally following tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions of Twitter accounts in the hopes of getting a follow back and then misleading their clients into believing they have a large number of followers without the need to follow a large number of people in return.
The bottom line is that until the FTC cracks down on fraud in social media it may not be feasible to accurately value a Twitter follower.
To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.
Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.