ROI Math for Brands on Twitter

Tweetwasters, a new Twitter-based toy,  calculates the total amount time you spent twittering by multiplying all your tweets by 30 seconds (a conservative estimate, in my opinion, since you probably spend more time reading than typing).

I thought it would be interesting to check a few of the brands I follow (the links are to the corresponding tweetwaster pages):

ComcastCares: 20,719 tweets, ~173 hours
Starbucks:  591 tweet, ~5 hours
HRBlock: 303 tweets, ~3 hours
DellOutlet: 143 tweets, 1.19hours
SouthwestAir: 1,112 tweets, 9.27 hours
Zappos: 1,226 tweets, 10.22 hours

Who is doing better, Comcast or Zappos? Let's assume that our benchmark is cost per follower and crunch some numbers.

ComcastCares is run by the company's director of digital care who makes, let's say, $50/hr and has written 20.719 tweets in ~173 hours.   Total time investment into Comcast's Twitter account is $8,650.  The account has 6,001 followers, which results in $1.44 per follower.

Zappos is being represented on Twitter by its CEO, who is paid, say, $250/hr and has produced 1,226 tweets in ~10 hours, which makes the total time investment about $2500 and the cost of each of Zappo's 24,049 followers about 10 cents apiece -- 14 times cheaper. 

Here's a pretty inclusive list of brands on Twitter. Maybe someone will write a script to run them through Tweetwasters to find the most sociable and efficient brand account?

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  1. Who still measures eyeballs? I'm assuming you meant this a bit tongue-in-cheek.

    This would appear to be attempting to assign Value, not ROI, to corporate Twitter accounts since you don't include figures for Return allowing you to calculate the ROI ratio.

    That said, the Cost (or Investment) in a Twitter account is often much more than what goes into publicly posted Tweets. It must also include the cost of reading Twitter and of any behind-the-scenes responses.

    Further, the Value of a Twitter account should be measured by far more than the number of followers, and for several reasons.

    For example, how much positive word-of-mouth and media coverage has been generated from activities of the @comcastcares account? None of that is dependent on people who follow the account. In fact, there's little reason for most folks to follow @comcastcares. Post an @-reply to that account and it will respond. That's the purpose of the account, one that is very different from Tony's @zappos account.

    As well, the quality of WHO is following you definately matters. If 100 highly targeted influential folks follow you, your account may have more Value than one with 10,000 followers who are unlikely to spread your messages very far.

  2. Ultimately, of course, the "return" will depends on each campaign's specific objectives. If your campaign's objective is to get Mr.Scoble (or however else you define "influential") to follow you, your return will depend on how many tweets it took you to get him hooked.

    But if we need the lowest common denominator, reach -- as measured in the total number of followers in a time period -- seems like a pretty good indicator, not unlike the number of subscribers to a publication.

    I agree that the costs of Twittering include listening and reading and prepping and all that, but I think for the purpose of this exercise we can assume these costs are similar across accounts.

    I'm not sure I understand the fifth paragraph. There's little reason to follow @comcastcares, and yet there are 20K people who do?

    The WHO metric is interesting. How would you measure the overall level of influence of your readership? Would you include the number of subscribers to their respective feeds as well?

  3. Reach isn't the appropriate metric for most Twitter use because it isn't a simple broadcast medium.

    There's more to it than this, but: If you send out a press release, you don't measure it's effectiveness by how many folks directly receive it in the mail or on the wire, nor how many media pitches your staff made against it, but by how many press hits you got.

    You need to extend the measurement of how effective your Twitter usage is well beyond what happens only on a given Twitter account, and beyond what happens only on Twitter.

    You also can't compare metrics for many Twitter brand accounts because they are used (and should thus be measured) in very different ways.

    My suggestion about @comcastcares is that many fewer follow that account than would if it were used in different ways. The account doesn't tweet much information of general use, it is mostly @replies to specific issues. They interact with a much broader audience than the 20k who follow them -- they interact with anyone who they find on keyword searches and respond to their concerns. The value of those interactions is in the word-of-mouth spread by those who are helped much more than it is by the 20k followers (who may or may not become a follower when they are helped).


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