Rogue Agency Seizes Client Account in Social Media Nightmare

Came across something VERY disturbing recently.  A company branded Twitter account was repeatedly posting quotes about honor,
integrity (or lack thereof)  and a statement to the effect that this account had been seized by the marketing agency because the client didn’t pay their bill.   I about fell off my chair after seeing that.

Wrap your brain around this:  On the surface it would appear a marketing firm, hired to promote a business, is using the clients social media platform to announce they’re deadbeats and didn’t pay their bill.

Who would have the audacity to do something like that?   I have never seen anything quite like this, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before or won’t in the future. The ramifications are frightening to say the least.  What can companies looking to consultants to setup, manage or advise them in the area of digital marketing do to protect themselves?

I posed this question to attorney Ed Nanney who specializes in entrepreneurship and business law.  Ed offered some sage advice for companies.  “When businesses operate, market and communicate by electronic media, basic contract and agency principles are as important as ever and the risks of ignoring them may be amplified. Take time at the start of  a business relationship to define the parties’ expectations of each other, the rights and responsibilities of each and to anticipate what happens if things don’t work out.  Electronic media foster rapid actions and communications, but don’t let a need for speed compromise due diligence and thoughtful planning.”

The big takeaway here is to alway get a written agreement upfront that spells out the parameters, scope, expectations and deliverables of the project.  Equally important are the terms of ownership regarding social media accounts and generated content.  This is a rare and extreme case, but worthy of consideration.  Needless to say, this gets placed in the “not working” category as I wonder where are the Dirty Harry’s of Social Media?

  • http://www.higheredcareercoach.com Sean Cook

    This is something else. I think of the fake account that tweets out about the BP fiasco, but everyone knew very quickly that it was biting satire, and that BP would do well to mostly ignore it and spend their time working on the real problem. I’ve also heard of disgruntled employees sending out malicious tweets, but those are easy enough to respond to: you fire the person and move on. But this scenario could easily draw itself out for a long time and would require savvy responses from the management of the company. In this particular case, where they aren’t keeping up with bills and haven’t managed the relationship well, I’d be skeptical about management’s ability to respond effectively. Do you still follow the account or the company? If so, give us an update sometime. I’d love to hear more about how they deal with this. A definite case study worth exploring.


  • Paul Leal

    found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later