True Value of an Online Connection

(CC) Courtesy Flickr user katerha

As we all seek to understand social media and the digital space, more and more folks seem to be looking for the easy answer to the question, “what is an online fan, follower or connection worth?”

There have been some polarized theories and valuations, but it seems that the true answer is actually quite simple (though not easy): it depends.

While I could foresee a template or framework in the future, most of us are still trying to figure this out for ourselves. And the answers will vary widely, but figuring out what a fan or follower is worth to you shouldn’t be impossible.

Tying this value to a dollar amount may still be a bit tricky, but finding a measurable, replicable method for measuring value shouldn’t be.

Three simple steps to find the value of an online connection

  1. Identify your goals. Be specific. To find the value of a Twitter follower, for example, think about what your goal is for being engaged on Twitter in the first place.
  2. Track progress to your goals. Come up with as many specific numbers or data points here as you can. Track milestones over time as well as total progress.
  3. Connect progress to connections. This may be the least simple of the steps, but I promise it won’t be hard. You may need to get creative, but you should be able to connect the dots.

Let me give you an exaggerated example based on my personal Twitter account to demonstrate what I mean:

  1. Make friends in a new city to increase the number of times you smile each day by 20% by the end of 2009. To accomplish this, I wanted to increase my Twitter network and my engagement.
  2. When New Year’s Eve rolled around in 2009, I had multiple invitations for parties. I was spending more and more days out with friends every week, and I think I easily exceeded my smiling goal before noon. By the fall of 2009, I had about 1,000 followers on Twitter (a 694% increase from the previous year). The number of @replies and retweets I received per week also increased about 257% during this time. The total number of connections I had met in real life had increased significantly, as well.
  3. While it may seem silly to do, I could make a clear correlation between some of these metrics or milestones. I would estimate my smiles per day increased 10% for every Twitter follower I met in real life. So in this case, each of those followers would be “worth” a 10% increase in smiles each day.

I know this is a silly example, but I hope it helps you think outside the box a little bit. Just because you can’t tie that increase in Twitter engagement to sales or a Facebook tab to more website traffic, it doesn’t mean the consumers you connected with are worthless.

Can you think of creative ways to show your connections’ value?

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