A year ago, a Facebook fan was worth $174.17. Today it's up to $8.5 million. The New York Times' Stephanie Strom reports this morning that General Mills has included language on its website "...to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, “join” it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways." Considering that last year GM paid $8.5 million to settle a single consumer complaint over product packaging, this new social media engagement tactic dramatically raises the potential value of a like.
No longer equated to what a consumer might spend, a Facebook like is now worth what a consumer might sue for. Henceforth, in considering the value of social media engagement to organizations, public relations measurement may find that expenses avoided are far more important than such trifles as promoting sales. -- Bill Paarlberg, editor, The Measurement Standard
Update 4/18/14: The NYTimes ran an update today, quoting a not-quite-eloquent General Mills spokesman: “No one is precluded from suing us merely by purchasing our products at the store or liking one of our brand Facebook pages. For example, should an individual subscribe to one of our publications or download coupons, these terms would apply. But even then, the policy would not and does not preclude a consumer from pursuing a claim. It merely determines a forum for pursuing a claim. And arbitration is a straightforward and efficient way to resolve such disputes.”