Content Marketing

Why Putting a Dollar Figure to a Twitter Follower Doesn’t Make Sense

Ever since Twitter blew up at SXSW five years ago, social media marketers have been trying to place a dollar figure on the value of a Twitter follower.

It’s easy to see why. If a Twitter follower is worth $5 and your crafty tweets net your client 10,000 new followers, then you’ve proved a $50,000 ROI in time for happy hour. Cheers!

Quite a few people have taken on the challenge of calculating the value of a Twitter follower. A 2011 lawsuit valued a Twitter follower at $2.50  a number a lawyer seemingly pulled out you know where — while the social media agency Argyle values a Twitter follower at $3, based on an very successful e-commerce campaign that they’ll struggle to replicate.

Over at Digiday, Brian Morrissey noticed that Twitter’s promoted tweets platform values a new follower at $2.50.

Ultimately, the value of individual Twitter followers varies far too greatly for these numbers to mean anything. Trying to put a dollar figure to a Twitter follower is like throwing a bunch of rocks, pennies, and gold coins in a pile and saying, “Each one of these is worth about $2.50.”

If I create a snarky startup and my startup becomes the 305th “person” Samuel L. Jackson (@samuelljackson) follows, that’s huge. Samuel L. Jackson has almost 1.3 million followers and has everyone’s attention with his amazing live-blogging of the Olympics.

Samuel L. Jackson’s followers make an effort to read his tweets, so if he retweets something from me, it will potentially reach millions of people. The very fact that Samuel L. Jackson follows me gives me Twitter cred, and as a result, people who like Samuel L. Jackson will start following me.

In most cases, gaining Samuel L. Jackson as a follower is more valuable than gaining thousands of regular Twitter followers.

And gaining thousands of followers isn’t all that difficult. If I follow 1,000 new people today, about 15-20% of them will follow me back. Then, tomorrow, I can use a service like Friend or Follow to delete everyone who doesn’t follow me back en mass, and then follow another 1,000 new people. If I continue doing this, I’ll be adding 150-200 new followers a day. In a week, I’ll have over 1,000 new followers.

Does this mean that I’ve created $2,500 in value? Doubtful. On average, my new followers don’t have many followers of their own, and they’re probably following a lot of other people, which means that the chance of them seeing my tweets in their feed is low.

Perhaps someone will develop an accurate, Klout-like tool to calculate the relative value of our Twitter followers, but until then, social media marketers should concentrate on process  how you got your Twitter followers can tell you a lot.

For example, whenever I write an article for Mashable, I generally get at least 50 new followers. These followers are valuable because they read my piece on content marketing, found it interesting, and want to hear what I have to say. I’m much more likely to engage with them and catch their attention than if I had acquired new followers through a mass follow-back scheme.

When you create an awesome piece of content, the followers you gain from it are Twitter gold.

Image courtesy of artenot/shutterstock

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