You could argue that your clever Facebook status updates and Frank Bruni-esque Yelp reviews are priceless, but the user data you generate can be converted into actual dollars and cents, thanks to the folks over at Backupify. But before anyone goes out looking to cash in on their status updates, it should be noted that the study points only to theoretical values.
As it turns out, Yelp reviews are valued at $9.13, while individual tweets translate to a paltry $0.001. A Foursquare check-in? $0.40. Updates on Path came in slightly higher at $0.50 each.
As for why there are such vast discrepancies, Rob May of Backupify explained to Business Week that, “The reason that Yelp reviews are valued so highly is that every review creates lot of value for other users," he said. “You can’t create a lot of value for a lot of Path users because by its nature, it’s limited.”
The mathematical calculations Backupify used were pretty basic: They took the amount of content users provide and divided that number into either the companies' valuation or annual revenue. They also figured out how much each user is worth by taking the valuations of each company and dividing those numbers by how many users they have. Backupify determined each person antiquing photos is worth $18.52 to Instagram, and that those actively repinning duvet covers and brownie recipes represent $28.09 per user for Pinterest. Users of Facebook and LinkedIn are valued the highest, at $104.46 and $118.34, respectively.
Regardless of a user's value to a company, history has proven that Yelp reviews and tweets can end up being worth quite a bit in the marketplace, considering the impact they can have: The Twitter account "Shit My Dad Says" was turned into a book and a short-lived television series. Conversely, the owner of an Atlanta barbeque restaurant had to do serious damage control after excoriating a customer who wrote a negative Yelp review.
On the flip side, of course, is the fact that users have plenty to lose by their interactions on social networking sites: A chiropractor sued San Francisco Yelper Christopher Norberg for defamation after Norberg wrote in his review that the doctor was dishonest (the case settled). And in December, three staffers working for U.S. Rep Rick Larsen were fired for pounding Jack Daniels and tweeting that their boss was an idiot.