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Twitter ROI
2010-06-21: It's taking me about 3 hours manually to follow 250 people who have tweeted relevant phrases, and of those 17% will follow me back, meaning I can get about 14 followers an hour. Better someone on a low wage does that once the system is set up, but it's hardly fulfilling and meaningful work so even better would be to automate it.
And since Twollo doesn't appear to do that any more, and wants money too, I'll be diving into the Twitter API (a programmers' interface to Twitter's back-end system, allowing computers to drive Twitter) to build my own Twitter following system. It shouldn't, actually, be too hard.
The per-visit value for the website in question is 57p. From those 250 people I follow, perhaps only 10% will visit the website (very approximately half of those who follow me) meaning the turnover from that 3 hours work is maybe £14.27. Halve that for the profit. So it really has to be automated.
That doesn't take into account a couple of things. Firstly, perhaps there's a point that you reach, maybe at 10,000 followers, where you've provided enough value and they respect you enough that when you put up a link to something from which you gain a benefit (like an affiliate link or one of your own ecommerce sites), a percentage of your followers spend some money. It's hard not to think in terms of that being a cash cow.
In other words, the benefit of a list doesn't come from the first contact, it's an ongoing trust and value relationship.
Secondly, that big justification for ad budgets, the marketing mix. Someone who is following you on Twitter may well find you through Google, or visit your shop or see your ads around. The combination of that awareness is greater than the sum of each separately. Each helps the other. It may be that people use Twitter for their awareness of what's going on, but when they want to buy something they just go through Google because, if they choose Twitter, your tweets may not be on their timeline right at that moment. But you are in their head.
Anyway, it seems there's maybe one every couple of minutes worth following, meaning an automated system could follow 720 per day, gain 122 new followers and 72 website visitors worth 59p each of turnover, or £42.48 per day. It's not going to change my life but it'll keep me in cat litter, so Twitter API here I come.

By John Allsopp
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