The state of the twitter economy

I'm not sure what's more narcissistic: binging oneself, checking your follower status, or reading your own blog's back catalog.  That's a topic for another post, but while committing a minor sin of onnetism I discovered a post from last November that bears revisiting some six seven months later.

After attending a meeting of Boston Media Makers, I set out to estimate the market value of my twitter stream.  You can read the gory details here, but the upshot is that the Magpie service seemed to value my twitterish at about $15 CPM. I wonder if that figure has gone up or down, and why.

Here's the formula: I used magpie to get an estimate of what they'd pay me, then using followcost and some guesstimation, I figured out what my audience was, and derived the CPM.  Back in November, Magpie offered me 69 Euros a month, and I was tweeting about 5 times per day to 252 followers.  Interestingly, today Magpie quoted me only EU 23.49, but I now have 632 followers and tweet about 3 times a day.  These figures suggest a CPM of about $3.75, quite a drop.  What's changed?

Magpie's estimate Tweet frequency via Followcost

Well, I am tweeting less - to the relief of many - and that might make me less attractive to advertisers.  But I have more than double the followers (so my total theoretical impressions are up), and my twitter grade is up and my percentile rank is up, too.  (In November I was #10,546 out of 255,406 for the 4th percentile, and now I'm #44,613 of 2,276,191 which is the 2nd percentile)  So why is my Magipe CPM a quarter of what it was half a year ago?

Twitter grader stats

Well, gentle readers, as  you may have noticed, I didn't really buy the ad valuation last time out (my estimate was a lot closer to diddly) so the fact that it's gone down should please me.  But here's the thing - it's still too high by a huge factor.  Back when I had 250 twitter followers, I could tweet a link and around 20 people would click on it.  Pretty sweet.  Today, with over 600 followers, I can tweet a link and about 20 people click on it.  Based on grader's estimates, the twitterverse is about 10x larger in terms of number of users now, but the results that I get - and by extension, what I figure an advertiser would get - in terms of clicks is pretty much the same.

I suspect that this bottoming out of the Twitter ad economy (which, by the way comes from a whopping sample size of one) is partly a coming around to reality and deflation of hype, and partly a change in the way people use Twitter. Follower and following numbers are up, and use of applications such at Tweetdeck to manage these larger streams is also way up.  These applications let users group and manage their Twitter friends, and thereby reduce the number of tweets that are actualy read.  This, and the fact that the applications remove from view the actual Twitter UI, suggests to me that the prospects of anybody making money with Twitter advertising - including Twitter - are dwindling.

2 Responses

  1. My doubts about Twitter increased exponentially when someone decided to follow me on Twitter recently and I have never ever tweeted. I had signed up months ago to see what the "Twiterati" were saying about a client's products and services.
  2. Hi Lynne You may be a member of a growing class of Twitter users, the silent tweetjority, if you will. It turns out you can learn a lot from Twitter without tweeting, such as your business intelligence project. In fact, you can do most if not all of that stuff without even joining Twitter. You're also on the verge of discovering the dirty truth about the follower economy: many people (and robots too) follow you only in the hope of being followed back. It's the circle of jerk, if you know what I mean. Recent turgid research by Harvard Business School has some sexy info about gender differences but for me the headline of note is this buried lede: >> Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. Hmm.

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