How much is a Twitter follower worth?

The value of a Twitter follower seems like one of those very subjective questions, although apparently a Facebook fan is four times as valuable.  After all, no two Twitter followers are the same are they?  That hasn't stopped a judge in America attempting to have a go.

A California company says a former employee hijacked its Twitter account and absconded with 17,000 Twitter followers, which the company says are valued at $2.50 apiece. The business filed a $340,000 lawsuit against the former worker because it says he failed to hand over the password to the company Twitter account, and instead changed the handle's name and kept the followers for himself.

I won't go into the legal issues surrounding the case, nor even who 'owns' a Twitter account created on company time, largely for company purposes.  What is of interest though is just how the judge plans to value those Twitter accounts.

How much is a Twitter follower worth?

TechCrunch reported last year that Twitter followers were for sale on eBay for approximately 1 cent per follower.

Some of the Buy-It-Now listings include 5,000 followers for $20 (which comes to 0.4 penny/follower), $5,500 for $40 (0.7 penny/follower), $1,100 for $10 (0.9 penny/follower). You are not actually buying followers outright (Twitter doesn’t allow people to transfer their followers), but rather services which “guarantee” getting your account up to the promised number of followers through “proven and safe methods.” Some even only count reciprocal followers (followers who follow back).

Obviously those kind of followers are farmed from spambots and the like, so are of little practical use other than making your follower count look big.  It's reasonable to suppose that the followers of the PhoneDog Twitter account are perhaps a little more engaged, and of course followers attained in an ethical way are considerably more valuable than the spambot accounts bought via eBay.

So whilst it's fair to say that valuing your Twitter followers is a hard endeavour, maybe some of the following measures can be used to help you understand the value of them to you.

  1. How did you acquire them?  Were they bought or did they arrive naturally as a result of your great content?
  2. How targeted are they?  Are your followers tightly coupled with your niche or are they a smorgasboard of random people?  The more focused they are the more valuable they are.
  3. How strong is your relationship?  I know a few huge accounts with tens of thousands of followers, but few of them ever re-tweet content.  The better your relationship, the more valuable they are.
  4. How many are there?  Suffice to say I'm not talking raw numbers here, but 10 highly engaged followers is better than 1 highly engaged follower, so numbers cannot be ignored.
  5. How much do they earn you?  ROI is notoriously difficult to measure for social media, but it is nevertheless possible to determine how much income you derive from a channel.

So there are a few things you can use to attempt to value your Twitter followers.  Are there any things there that I've missed out?  How do you report the value of Twitter to your employers?

 

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11 thoughts on “How much is a Twitter follower worth?

  1. I guess this is very similar to 'how much is an employee worth' (in my mind anyway). If I'm buying followers, it's highly unlikely they'll engage or be engaged by my tweets whereas if someone comes along and exercises free will to follow my tweets, I may just have said or done something that makes them think I'm worth the follow and therefore more likely to get engagement.

    So I'd say a disengaged twitter follower is worth $0.00 and an engaged follower is invaluable. Wouldn't help the lawsuit in California but I think these are more realistic estimates.

    There's something inherently wrong about a lawsuit that seeks to put a value on a person and we should remember that behind (almost) every twitter account is a real person. Scary how money centric our society has become that we talk about "followers" having a monetary value, even if we don't consciously recognise what we're doing.

    • Thanks for the comment Colin.

      we should remember that behind (almost) every twitter account is a real person

      I suppose that's the root of the legal dispute, does the Twitter account belong to the person writing it, or the company?

  2. I think there are two issues in there – one about who owns the account and I would suggest that if it's been commissioned for the company, using the company's name and time etc, it belongs to the company.____What I object to is the second issue – trying to monetise the value of the followers of said account.____I think the issue is one of the employee stealing the company's identity and there may be damages or compensation payable for the inconvenience this has caused but it shouldn't be computed in terms of 'how many followers' the company had on twitter and the 'value of each follower' – that takes us in a very different direction if that makes sense?

    • Yes I think you're right. It is sad that the matter has descended such that it requires a judge to resolve it. I have a personal Twitter account that's separate to my work one and many peers from the industry do likewise. That seems by far the easiest way to prevent these sorts of issues from arising. It'll be interesting to see how the valuation side of things comes out though. It does seem to be a case of sticking a finger in the air and hoping for the best.

  3. I don't think an external person can really comment. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and only those involved can really tell you how valuable a Twitter follower is.

  4. It is possible to determine value from a Twitter follower. For instance you can easily check how many clicks your tweets generate. If you divide the number of visits by the number of tweets you can determine how many clicks on average each tweet generates.

    You can then set up goal funnels for your site so you can see if Twitter followers earn you more than visitors from other sites. A quick back of an envelope example.

    Lets say you tweet 50 times a month, and they generate 500 visits, so you're getting 10 clicks per tweet. If you know that the conversion rate for Twitter is 5% and the average cart value is £50, you can calculate that Twitter is earning you around £1250 a month, or £25 per tweet. You then divide that by the number of followers you have to work out a rough value per follower.

  5. A brand's Facebook fans are worth about $10 apiece, according to a study by social media agency SocialCode. The valuation is based on the finding that fans were 291% more likely to engage directly with a brand than were nonfans, making it markedly cheaper to advertise to them. "This research makes the value of a fan obvious," says SocialCode CEO Laura O'Shaughnessy.
    http://adage.com/article/digital/study-facebook-f

  6. The Twitter advertising platform is offering Twitter followers for between $2-4 each!!
    http://mashable.com/2011/12/06/cost-of-twitter-fo

    "The memo included cost-per-follower (CPF) rates for Promoted Accounts and cost-per-engagement (CPE) for Promoted Tweets.

    The CPF runs between $2.50 and $4, while the listed CPE rates come in from $0.75 to $2.50. For CPE, “engagement” refers to clicks, favorites, retweets and “@Replies.”"

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