Defining and Measuring the Value of a Tweet

Written by Tom FronczakMarch 24, 2011

Think about how many hours each day you socialize with friends online, and then think about how many hours a day you socialize with friends in person. Yeah, it’s not even close. Businesses have surely noticed this growing divide and have been trying to capitalize on this digital trend for years, but the ever expanding online environment continues to keep statistics vague. Let’s take a look at current projections.

The problem is, while clicks and views are a well understood Internet commodity, businesses are still somewhat uncertain of what price tag to place on things like Tweets, shares, retweets, and followers online. The fact that top ranked social sites continue to grow vastly larger each year doesn’t make it any easier to keep rates up to date. Quantcast – a popular Web traffic tracking site – shows U.S. traffic for Twitter rising from a quarter of a billion monthly visits to 1.25 billion in the past 12 months, with roughly 88 million people using the site in America each month. To put that in perspective, Facebook – the second most popular site on the entire Internet – rose from 5 billion monthly visits to approximately 9 billion in the past year, which puts it at an astounding 137 million visitors in the U.S. each month.

With such volatile statistics for a resource that's intangible, it's hard for anyone to measure the value of links on these sites without figures being outdated in a matter of weeks, if not a single day. More importantly, while it's moderately easy to quantify social interactions online, tracking the extent of their effectiveness is much more difficult. This challenging task is exactly what ChompOn set out to determine as a new GroupOn clone that instead brings deals to online distribution networks.

Here’s a chart of their findings for value (in gross revenue per action) of immediate sales that came from each social action:

For a better understanding of where these numbers came from, here’s how they evaluated their data to get the information you see above.

“For shares and tweets, we were able to directly attribute sales to the original action, so we simply took the total revenue attributed to each action and divided it by the total number of shares/tweets. For likes and follows, we had to estimate attribution by looking at our traffic references and subtracting out purchases made through shares/tweets as well as purchases made through direct traffic.”

To be fair, a more recent study from Eventbrite – an online event registration site that has sold event tickets to over 25 million customers – that includes data from multiple social networking sites, reflects much smaller values for these social interactions when dealing with certain topics:

Both studies agree that Facebook shares are worth approximately 3-4 times more than Tweets, so with Facebook partially inflating the graph numbers seen above, it appears as if ChompOn’s statistics may be slightly higher than the current reality of the social commerce market online. Although, it should be noted that ChompOn – and even Eventbrite – did not capture long-term values of customers in their analysis, which means the true worth of each action should be even greater when including the value of repeat customers. Not only does ChompOn plan to monitor those statistics in future studies, but they also hope to find out how effective discounts are at incentivizing social actions.

Numbers aside, there are two key factors that should always be remembered. The first is that not all Tweets are equal across all hours of the clock. Peak online commerce hours are between 9 AM and 1 PM, so that’s when Tweets can receive the most results. Lastly, many small sites defy statistics each year by being thoroughly involved with their readers and followers, which in turn causes their community to be more loyal and more likely to partake in sales. 

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