How much are your tweets worth?

Mobile news site PhoneDog is suing former employee Noah Kravitz, claiming it owns his Twitter followers. But what does PhoneDog owe Kravitz for his tweets?

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Let’s say the average tweet contains 20 words, and assign an arbitrary value of 20 cents a word to that. So that’s $4 a tweet. Every time that tweet is retweeted is worth something too. Let’s say for sake of argument that every retweet is worth an additional $1, and that each of Kravitz’s tweets was retweeted an average of 10 times. Some of Kravitz’s tweets also contain links to photos, and those should be worth an additional fee – we’ll toss an additional buck at those. We’ll assume one out of 20 tweets also contains a link to a picture.

Kravitz has published approximately 25,000 tweets. So the Tweet Value math in this instance goes like this: Tweets (25K * $4) + Retweets (25K * 10 * $1) + TweetPics (25K/20 * $1) = $351,250.

In other words, subtract the payment for the followers list and PhoneDog still owes Kravitz $11,250. I think that’s fair. But if I were him I’d demand cash; I wouldn’t trust them to write a check.

The fact is, these people didn’t follow that account because of PhoneDog, they followed because of Kravitz. That’s the thing about Twitter – it’s personal, or at least, it’s supposed to be. (There are of course celebrities who hire others to tweet for them. They will all die in obscurity, most likely by choking on their own vomit.)

None of this matters, though, if the court finds that Kravitz’s former employer owns that Twitter account, regardless of the fact that it would not exist without him. In that case he may well own PhoneDog serious coin (and if I were him I’d pay it in pennies).

Today Kravitz offered this $4.40 worth of sage advice on Twitter:

Social Media Users: Be very careful when using your company's name in your online handles. Never know how/when your employers might react.

If anyone’s interested, I have a bit more than 4,000 Twitter followers, and I started my account about three years ago. Using PhoneDog’s math, my followers are worth some $360,000. But for you, dear reader, I’ll knock that down to the low low price of just $299,000. Order now, this offer won’t last forever!

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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