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.
- How did you acquire them? Were they bought or did they arrive naturally as a result of your great content?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?