Hey Mr.RJ… who owns your Facebook page?


MY FM’s RJ Meenakshi has crossed the 100,000 fans milestone on Facebook. Or so announces an eager story in Radio And Music. I’d however refrain from commenting on the quality of content and interactions on her Facebook page – take a look at it yourself and form your own opinion – after all, what is ‘successful’ is simply what works.

There are many RJs and VJs in India who have a robust fan following on Twitter and Facebook.

They were perhaps not known to people (listeners/audiences) before they come an RJ or a VJ. But when they did, they, perhaps on their own or with help from the brand they worked with (radio station or TV channel) ventured into a Facebook page or a Twitter page, in their own name, and started extending the reach of their program that would have otherwise remained only on radio or TV.

This is very different from film stars’ use of social media platforms since they do not act just in one film. Or even people who are employed in a company and tweet about the company in their personal Twitter/Facebook pages, because, in both cases, they have to market their Twitter/Facebook pages on their own and cannot use the film/company communication to do so.

So, typical scenario – RJ or VJ augments the programming on radio or TV with engagement via Facebook or Twitter and both platforms rub on each other. This is no doubt a very useful strategy to expand the listener base and engage with them deeper.

The trouble is – when they quit, who owns the fan base built on either platform?

On radio or TV, it’s simple – they’d replace that RJ or VJ with another one and the new person would need to build an audience from scratch or continue on the lines of the earlier RJ/VJ.

On Facebook and Twitter? The page is usually called ‘RJ something’ and is not a personal profile – this is a Facebook Page! Or a Twitter handle.

Can the radio station or TV channel claim, ‘You used radio (or TV) to build an audience on Facebook, so it belongs to us when you quit’?

Can the RJ/VJ claim, ‘I built this fan base with my name on it, with my effort and I helped this extra effort to expand the reach of your program, so it belongs to me’?

Do radio stations and/or TV channels have guidelines on how to go about creating social media properties for RJs and VJs in the first place? Guidelines on what happens when they quit?

One possible way out could be that the RJ/VJ in question create a page on their own accord with just a generic title – RJ <name>, as against MY FM RJ <name>.

Even then, I’m sure they would talking about the station/channel’s programming so I guess the brand is right in claiming ownership too. It may necessary for RJs/VJs and station/channel brand leads to discuss it before they start on this task.

As Vivek Shenoy puts it, this case may remind you of the famous PhoneDog case where the employer (PhoneDog, a mobile news website) sued an ex-employee (Noah Kravitz) of taking over the Twitter profile, and along with it 17,000 followers of that Twitter profile, which the company claimed were customers (readers, in this case)! This question of ownership may apply to any business where an employee has a public facing communication channel on a social media platform and the company has a non-internet or internet-based communication channel apart from person handles for employees. Reason? Those channels could help build personal profiles and vice versa. For example, most RJs announce their Facebook/Twitter handles on the radio show and ask fans to connect with them there!

What’s your take?