I have been thinking about the Non-Compete clause of the social media agency. This is the clause which mentions that the agency may not take up work of another competing business, until the term the contract is valid and a year hence.

I spoke to many PR, design, web and other companies about taking up the project of a brand and its competitor at the same time. Most of them claimed that they did not really worry too much about that. They had some way of justifying taking up a competitors work too.

However, in social media, it is more that just marketing. One has to get into the sphere, the industry, connect with influencers and just be like a spokesperson of the brand on social media. Because of the deeper involvement that the community manager has with the client brand – it would be very difficult to do the same marketing for a competing brand.

I am sure any community manager would have a conflict of interest in managing two competing brands. And, especially because DigiWhirl is a small company, there would inevitably be an overlap in the team that is working on the two projects.

So clearly for us currently, managing two competitors at the same time would be a No-No. Morally, ethically and generally for loyalty and heart. Maybe when the company is big enough that the people working on the project are completely different and both teams can maintain some confidentiality internally, only then maybe, it would make sense.

Having said that, what does Non-Compete mean for a social media agency?
1) Specific to the product being marketed
I find it important to define the space the client is targeting very clearly. The non-compete would only be valid for this specific space. There may be a lot of complimentary spaces in the same field.

For eg: A pathology lab v/s hospital. So the hospital may provide the same services as that of path lab or vice versa.. but overall the two brands put out a very different message. The target group could also be different. So they are not really directly competing but they are kind of in the same space. If the hospital brief was to promote their pathology lab then of course there is a conflict.

2) Specific to the geographical area/target group and so on
Client’s area of service, target group and other salient aspects are core to their social media activation. So if they differ from each other then the non-compete clause I put in, allows me to work with them.
For eg: A cafe in Mumbai v/s a cafe in Delhi. As it is evident there is hardly any conflict of interest. In fact learnings from one may improve work on the other.Another example would be a pediatrician clinic v/s an MD or Dentists clinic in the same area. Completely different target groups or messaging.

3) Time validity
Non-compete clauses sometimes state that the agency may not work for a competing client until 1 year after the contract is over. This is something I don’t put in the contract, because it doesn’t really matter I feel. The way social media works, for every client anyway the work needs to be done from scratch…

Any thoughts on this?

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