How Much Is My Twitter Worth?

Putting a Price on your Tweets and followers

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As World Wrestling Federation legend Ted "The Million Dollar Man" DiBiase liked to say, "Everybody has a price." But does everybody have a price online? Does the maxim apply to social media? Have you ever wondered, for instance, "How much is my Twitter worth?"

Before you contact Christie's to book an auctioneer, bear in mind that, for the vast majority of us, the answer is not much at all. We're not talking about your Twitter stock; we're talking about your Twitter account. But some do believe that there's a way to estimate the value of our accounts, and we'll never know whether we can make millions of dollars off of it unless we get an appraisal, right?

As you could probably guess, crucial variables in most "formulas" include the frequency and performance of your Tweets and the count and caliber of your followers. After Twitter's IPO of 25 billion (we'll call this figure "A") in November of 2013, Time calculated that the corporation owed Justin Bieber a cool $21 million. How did it come up with that particular invoice?

Well, it took Twitter's claim of 200 million "delivered" Tweets daily as 200 million Tweets actually "seen" by other users. We'll call that figure B. To establish a value for each Tweet seen, Time divided A by B and arrived at 12.45 cents. It then multiplied that by 25% of a user's followers, a percentage it based on engagement rates and statistics at the time. (In other words, you can count on three-quarters of your followers to ignore you right off of the bat – it's nothing personal.) The resulting number would be your cut of the profits. The more famous or influential you are, the healthier the cut.

In Bieber's case, it was a pretty healthy cut. After all, if the late, great James Brown was a sex machine, the Bieb is a Tweet machine. And while in cyberspace nobody can hear a teenage girl scream, 25% of his swooning groupies equaled tens of millions of eyes. That's probably a conservative estimate, however, as you know that many more than a quarter of Bieber's followers are hanging on his every character.

Hence, a big payday.

Or at least a big theoretical payday. Time made it clear that its interactive formula – now defunct in the wake of Twitter's policy changes on what's public and what's not – was for entertainment purposes only.

The magazine was also up front about its most glaring fallacy: Twitter's value was based on its future, of course ... not its present. For the company and for those of us awaiting a check in the mail, that value has only increased during the intervening months (to 27.4 billion, as of this writing) after a shaky start that had investors concerned.

Other sites, meanwhile – many with ulterior motives to collect your information – have swooped in to use Twitter's API with your password permission to put a monetary value on your account. Although they don't reveal their "algorithms," most of these services use techniques that tally your followers, retweeted Tweets, favorited Tweets, and other factors to throw out a number – if they even make that much of an effort. They're novelties, by and large, and we advise you to exercise caution in using them.

How Much is My Twitter Worth ... To Advertisers?

So, we now know that services offering to figure out the value of our Twitter accounts are mostly for fun, but for advertisers, your presence on Twitter is no laughing matter. And with Twitter's advertising platform – it's primary source of revenue – gaining more profile, your account means a lot to brands and to Twitter itself.

According to analysts at SumAll, businesses can expect a 1% to 2% bump in revenue when integrating Twitter. For them, each Tweet is worth about $26; retweets, $20. Meanwhile, Twitter made more than $312 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2014, more than double what they brought in during the previous quarter.

In addition to clicks, impressions, and new followers, when a company advertises with Twitter, they gain access to analytics like consumer data and preferences, which you really can't put a price on. The thinking goes that when a service is free, we – the users – are usually the product. According to Twitter, on average, account holders – 60% of whom access the site via mobile, where the majority of local search traffic for retail originates – follow six or more brands.

Interestingly, though, SumAll found that for businesses, one Instagram follower is worth 10 Twitter followers. And according to PC Magazine, a Facebook like is about four times the worth of a Twitter follower, at least for now.

In the end, if you want to see any cash from your participation on Twitter, you might have to rely on someone wanting to buy your handle. Naoki Hiroshima, @N, was once offered $50,000 for his, before it was stolen from him.

Otherwise, maybe the Bieb will shout you out like he did with Carly Rae Jepsen. In which case, your account will have ended up being worth millions, after all.