On September 15th TwitChange started a campaign to hold the first ever celebrity tweet auction. Over the course of the following ten days, people bid to win the chance to have one of the 150 celebrity participants ReTweet their message, Follow their account for a specified period of time, and @Mention them on their own celebrity feed. Bids ranged from $50 to $15,000 according to the Wall Street Journal.

So, what is the value of a follower and how did people determine how much they wanted to bid for the privilege of having a celebrity follow them? Since 2007 (the tipping point of Twitter popularity), marketers from Fortune 500 companies to those managing local non-profit organizations have been trying to determine the value of Twitter to their organization. As with any promotional or marketing activities, the value of a Twitter follower fluctuates depending on time of day, frequency of post, current number of followers, and level of influence. Dell has been able to place the value of one of their followers to be $4, but does that value apply across the entire Twittersphere? Based on Dell’s estimates, a ReTweet from Eva Longoria Parker would be worth $3,062,948, and an @mention from Justin Bieber would be worth $22,057,704!.

In actual terms, TwitChange was able to raise $504,631 to build an orphanage in Haiti. But now that the auction is over and the winners are now connected to their favorite celebrity, albeit virtually, how will these donors use their new found exposure? These donors have already contributed to a worthy cause, now they have the opportunity to do even more. I hope that they use this chance to champion another cause, whether it be for LiveStrong, the National Wildlife Federation, or their local nonprofit organization, so that the new reach their messages have will create more positive benefits.

So how do you determine the value your Twitter following is creating for your organization? The most concrete way is to use tracking tools like Google Analytics to determine how many visitors are reaching your donation page from Twitter, and then analyze the contributions those people make. You can also measure the increase in sign-ups for event participation from Twitter in similar fashion. Though this method leaves out any additional people who hear about your event through Twitter, but then sign-up later or through a different channel, it still gives you an idea of the impact this communication channel is having on your larger fundraising efforts.

Has anyone else experimented with different ways of assessing the value of your organization’s Twitter followers?

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