Brian Carter is Director of SEO, PPC, and Social Media at Fuel Interactive, a full service interactive agency in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Disclosure: Brian is a cofounder of the pay per tweet twitter marketing service TweetROI, which debuted about 45 days after this article was published.

Suppose, in the not too distant future, there were a good way (not spammy or inauthentic) to get paid for your twitter influence. Lets put aside the controversies of pay-per-tweet (or being a paid designated spokestweeter) for a second and think about how marketers would valuate your tweet.

Questions arise like:

  • Is a tweet worth about $1.00? $10.00? $50.00?
  • Is everyones tweet worth the same amount?
  • Should it be based on the standard prices of CPM? Or of CPC?
  • Should it have something to do with how many clicks a link in your tweet gets? Your number of followers? How often you get retweeted? How often your followers reply to you?

Cost per Impression, Click, and Action

Right now, any pay-per-tweet model is likely to start as pay-per-impression. Because really, a tweet just is viewed. If we pay for a tweet, were paying for the eyeballs. Later on, some platform might enable pay-per-tweet-click (PPTC), which would be more on par with the modern metrics of PPC advertising.

evolution of metrics in paid advertising

The evolution of metrics in paid advertising

One way to examine how much a tweet is worth is to look at the average number of clicks you can get from links in tweets.

Average Number of Clicks Per Tweet and Per Follower

Ive been tracking clicks on my tweeted links for more than a year now. I pretty consistently used in the last few months, and I was at about 18,000 followers for most of that time.

Heres a graph of the number of clicks per tweet. The outliers are those which were heavily retweeted.

Twitter Tweet Click Metrics

110 @briancarter tweets from 2/26/09 to 5/15/09

Looking back at my clicks per tweeted link, the average is about 98 clicks. Max was 460.

So what should the cost per click be?

  • Should we compare it to pay per click? If so, which niche? The CPC in PPC can range from $0.10 to $10.00.
  • Or should we take my 18,000 followers and figure out what % of people are looking at my tweets at any one time, count that as impressions, and use a standard CPM price?

If we say 5-10% of my followers see any one tweet, thats 900-1,800 impressions. If I get 100 clicks, thats a 6-11% CTR, which is not unreasonable. [Thats 0.56% clicks per follower]

So, lets say we go with a $20 CPM or a $1.00 CPC. Both of these figures are lower than the rates youll find on many sites and in many niches via AdWords (for all our PPC clients, the average AdWords CPC this year is $1.80)

That brings us to a valuation for my tweets of between $26 per tweet (CPM) and $100 (CPC). So is my tweet worth somewhere in between, say $63.00? If so, you could adjust this for your followers- When we divide that $63.00 into 18,000 followers, that means if you have 1,000 followers, your tweet is worth $3.50. Bet you didnt know it was so valuable, didja?

Is Your Tweet Worth More If Your Followers Are More Responsive?

We know the above valuation technique is not perfect, because you might be a 2,500 follower Twitterer who is extraordinarily engaged with the right followers. You might get a much higher CTR on your links if youve consistently tweeted high value links to your followers. In the end, your followers might convert better than average into revenue for a marketer.

In the long run, we still want to be able to find out which Twitterers produce the best ROI for particular marketers, offers, and niches. This is why ultimately any pay per tweet system would need JavaScript conversion tracking akin to that available in AdWords, Google Analytics, or Omniture.

Are Social Media Clicks Worth As Much As PPC Clicks?

The next question is: are social media clicks worth as much as PPC clicks?

You might be tempted to assume they are worth less. But the fact is, were not going to know the answer to this for a while, and the likelihood is that theres not a simple answer. Why? Because there are many possible goals for tweeting, from PR and brand awareness at one end of the spectrum to direct marketing at the other. These not only have different metrics, different numbers of metrics, but also get radically different results in terms of direct measurable ROI.

Prospect States, Social Media Goals, and Direct Measurable ROIProspect States, Social Media Goals, and Direct Measurable ROI

Because Twitter could be used at all three of these stages, twitter marketing campaigns with different objectives to prospects in different states of relationship to you and your offering will yield varying levels of direct ROI, and ROI will be more or less difficult to track.