How much would you pay for additional Twitter followers? Pennies, Two-bits, a dollar? Would you pay $1 million for one million followers? In an unprecedented move, Drew Carey, comedian and host of the Price is Right rose to that challenge and in exchange for a million followers, he has offered to donate a million dollars to Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation.
So how does one place value on Twitter followers?
Drew Carey has valued his followers at one buck a piece. However if one was to do the math, based on his current following of approximately 75,000 followers (as of this posting), and the valuation associated with those followers, the math is all over the board as to what is the true value of Carey's followers.
For instance, WhatsMyTwitterAccountWorth calculates the 75K followers at $37,351 or 50 cents per follower:
While TweetValue low-balls @DrewFromTV at a paltry $7688 or 10 cents apiece.
Drew Carey's TweetValue
Jason CalacanisWhat factors go into the algorithms to determine these values is a mystery. Some feel that large followings correlate to greater riches. According to Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis back in March, he was of the belief "that over time accounts with massive followings will somehow be able to pull in $1 million a year or more in incremental revenue, assuming they then have millions of followers."
Then if you factor in the net present value of a follower, we all know that currency depreciates over time. A buck today, might only be worth 50 cents in the next five years. Does the same hold true for Twitter followers? Will your followers' value decrease over time when Twitters' total users scale from today's 55 million users to next year's potential of a 100 million?
Twitter followers have become this year's new status symbol. Back in April, Ashton Kutcher Ashton Kutcher, Twitter Kingdisplayed that fact when he locked himself into a hell-bent battle with CNN to become the first Twitter user to amass one million followers.
Others have theorized that followers should be considered a form of currency and that in keeping with a "stock market" business model, one's value goes up and down based on fellow followers bidding on them. Companies could also bid for spots on the Dow Twitter and secondary markets would naturally emerge as companies resell their spots.
Dow Twitter Stock Market
However is quantity really the measurement to judge how valuable followers are? Are we paying too much attention to the shear numbers and not enough to "quality" of the follower. According to Aliza Sherman in Web Worker Daily, she affirms that "there is nothing to be gained by accumulating 'empty' followers," followers who in essence are not listening or interacting with you.
Drew Carey can reach his "one million man march" goal and in turn donate one million dollars to a respected charity. That is a good thing. But what then? Will he communicate with them on a daily basis or will his tweet feeds, like most celebrities, amount to one-way interfaces, where he does all the talking and none of the listening? So far the evidence indicates this to be true with the majority of celebrities.
If we are to really learn the value of Twitter and its followers, perhaps we should take a lesson from one of its founders. Ev Williams, even after recently raising $100 million in new funding from investors, he assumes a zen-like quality when he envisions the future of his company.
Ev WilliamsAccording to a recent New York Times blog, he is under no pressure to come up with a revenue model as much as the social media pundits like Kara Swisher think otherwise. Instead, he would like his company to focus on building intrinsic value. Having founded several companies before Twitter, including Blogger that he eventually sold to Google, one lesson he has taken from them all: "Create something that you want to see in the world...not what some MBA brandishing a business plan suggests."
In San Francisco, he told hundreds of journalists at the Online News Association's annual conference, that he "was motivated by the world telling (him) that (he) was going to fail." And when you stop to think about that philosophy, all of a sudden you realize that his vision for the company is built on the value of relationships versus "if or not" the price is right!
Drew Carey, you are doing a great thing by donating a million dollars to a worthy cause . But keep in mind, the one million followers you asked for. - in the days and months ahead - will want to see and hear great things from you as well...or else!