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Monetize Your Followers

As a statistician and mathematical modeling practitioner, I’m not a stranger to the concept of quantifying the value of intangibles.  In the ethical framework in which I studied and worked, such quantification might be applied to a concept such as negative dollar value of ill-will (per person) generated by denied boarding due to passenger aircraft over booking.  Yet I found myself rather unnerved today by TweetUp’s article today, How much is a follower worth?.  According to TweetUp analytics, the answer is $136.80, as of June 2010.

What is so troubling about this? I believe in free enterprise, von Neumann economic utility theory, liquidity, efficient capital markets, Keynesian economics,  freedom of choice for retail consumers, Adam Smith, and evolution.

Nomenclature confusion: Friends, family, followers versus customers?

I suppose I draw a distinction between the categories of “friends and family” versus “customers and clients”. I want to look out for the best interests of the first category. However, I’m willing to let the Efficient Frontier do its best for the rest, knowing that in the long-run, everything should work out.

Twitter assigns two only two types of user roles: follower and following. Google’s Picasa photo application assigns roles of friend, fan and favorite, which is no less confusing.

Google Buzz is more flexible, allowing users to name categories of contacts without restriction. One may have family, friends, colleagues/ coworkers, business contacts and so on.

Facebook is starting to move in the right direction, with friends kept distinct from fans, the latter usually pertaining to organizations or public figures. However, there remains no ability to capture the nuances within the friend category.

I perceive these oddly and inconsistently defined user roles as a discontinuity embedded within the social networking model of Web 2.0. For many months, I could not articulate my unease with certain social networking applications, but not others. Now I understand. I balk at the logical inconsistency and behavioral proscription (as defined by my personal moral framework) in these follower/friend (but no family) role definitions.

FOAF *.gif

My instinct is to avoid any entangling of ties between family/ friend/ loved ones and my customer base. Behavior that is required to achieve the goals of commercial enterprise is not appropriate for those with whom I am emotionally involved.

Perhaps the conflict can be resolved through better nomenclature.

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