Would A Facebook Hack Hurt Brands?

By now most of us have heard that the hacktivist coalition Anomymous’ reported Facebook shutdown Nov. 5 isn’t going to happen.

News agencies around the world went wild reporting that the loosely tied hacker collective was going to take down the world’s largest social network, in an effort to embarrass the Silicon Valley company and show its loyal user base how brazenly it hands out their personal data.

It was a story that sent shivers down the spines of Facebook addicts everywhere.

But at PRNewser we are less concerned if you suddenly won’t be able to log in to see if your babysitter has checked in at a bar or your cousin in Montana has finally watched Moonstruck (the top two items in my Facebook newsfeed right now).

What would a worldwide shutdown of Facebook mean for brands?

Brand “likes” are no small business on Facebook; some of the top global brands  have Facebook fans in huge amounts. As of August 11, 2011, Coke had 33 million; Starbucks had 24 million, Oreo, 22 million, and Skittles 18 million, just to name a few of the big favorites.

What is unclear is how “likes,” started in 2009, translate into sales. Some experts say any amount of publicity helps sales. Others say all likes are not created equal, and mean little to the brand’s bottom line.

Facebook itself has said the likes are extremely valuable, even going as far as assigning a dollar amount per like.

So if fans didn’t have access to their favorite brands, or if a huge hacking scared off consumers, would it cost brands cold-hard cash? If Anonymous does prevail, we shall see.