Looking at the business entity behind the account.
Last week we published the first part of our blog ‘The value of Instagram and Family LAW’.
In that article we explored how Scullion Family Law solicitor Judith Higson might deal with influencers separating when one party has a successful Instagram account that they use to generate a substantial income. Would their Instagram account be considered matrimonial property? The article can be found here.
This week, Paul Black a highly respected forensic accountant at Armstrong Watson, explores how an Instagram account might be valued by looking at the business entity behind the account.
Paul identified a number of matters to consider. This blog will explore how he might approach valuing an Instagram account should this situation occur.
First and foremost, Paul would be interested to find out whether the account was established before or after the date of marriage.
He would then research the account and take note of the vital statistics, such as the number of posts and the follower count. In Paul’s view, the key driver in becoming a ‘high earning influencer’ is not necessarily the number of followers one has, but how often those followers engage with the posts and how powerful an influence that person has over the buying decisions of their audience. This is what makes a post go viral, a brand marketers dream in reaching their target market.
After a bit of general research into the ‘influencer’ Paul would identify the business entity behind the Instagram account. For example, is it a limited company, a partnership or a sole trader.
Paul would then look to identify the income streams or profits.
He would ask us (Scullion LAW Family Solicitors) to obtain copies of the latest financial statements and copies of any contracts to support the income streams which would assist him in determining whether the Instagram account generates a regular income and how robust or sustainable that income stream might be. Once this has been determined, Paul would value the business as a standard going concern.
Paul would also look at what drives the underlying value of the business.
He would analyse the follower count, the number of posts, the interaction between the followers and posts and he would identify any brands or sponsors associated with the account.
When evaluating the business he would also look at the risk factors that could impact the value business. For example, is the account holder in complete control of their own account and responsible for generating their own leads? Or does the account holder have an agent? Perhaps the account holder is part of an affiliate marketing database? This would need to be determined.
The value of an Instagram account is often intimately connected to the account holder and the goodwill that they command. A person’s lifestyle choices for example if brought to light, could compromise their reputation and undermine the value of their business.
The value of an account could be affected by a marital split if both spouses have contributed to the online content and built a rapport with followers. (This could be a concern for Jessica in our hypothetical scenario as explored in our previous blog).
After scrutinising all of the information outlined above, Paul would seek to calculate an estimated sustainable income stream or profit for the business going forward.
He would consider the associated risk factors of the business to select an appropriate multiple or range of multiples to apply to the sustainable income stream. This would then allow him to give a range of possible values for the business which can then be used by us when valuing the matrimonial property.
If you are affected by any of the issues we have written about please get in touch with Judith Higson, head of the Family LAW team at Scullion LAW on 0141 374 2121 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact Paul Black at Armstrong Watson on 0141 233 0700 (Paul.Black@armstrongwatson.co.uk).
The views expressed in this blog do not form legal advice which is dependent on your individual circumstances. Each case is unique.
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