- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn top the list of social networks with the most valuable members.

These networks are part of a social currency exchange, according to a study from the cloud data backup service Backupify, which measured the worth of social networking. Members make money for every tweet, status update, pin, check-in, connection, photo and video that they post on social networking sites.

“We want to get people to think about the value of the content they are creating,” Backupify CEO and co-founder Rob May said, “and how much it is worth to them.”

In the world of social networks, content that encourages user activity and interaction is valuable.

“If you’re a social network, you want to think about the types of content your users can create,” Mr. May said. “Photos are pretty valuable compared to other types of content. While text is much less valuable.”

That’s why Facebook is worth $100 billion. The world’s most popular social network makes $118.34 for every member on the site, according to the study. Facebook gives members more opportunities to produce content, such as status updates, photos, videos, links and likes. Facebook users also can make friends, follow companies, join groups and more.

It also helps that Facebook has been able to attract about 845 million users, a feat Mr. May doubts any other social network will be able to accomplish.

“None of the other social networks will ever get close to the number of users that Facebook has,” he said. “They’re driving a lot of content creation and, therefore, are more valuable than users in other social networks.”

LinkedIn, valued just shy of $10 billion, has the second most valuable users.

“That makes sense because you’re tied to people’s professional networks,” Mr. May said. “It’s very important who you know in your career, what you’ve done.”

LinkedIn’s 92 million users focus on professional credentials, work experience and business connections.

“I think LinkedIn will eventually make more money per user than Facebook, because the data they are storing will be more valuable,” Mr. May said.

Twitter is the second most valuable social network at $10 billion and has the fourth most valuable users at $71.43 each. The tweets, however, are the lowest performing social media content, with each post worth 0.001 cents.

“One tweet doesn’t create a lot of value for the other people on Twitter because the things in my Twitter stream are not things that I’m acting on in general,” Mr. May said. “Most tweets are pay-me-to-read-them, right? They’re not that interesting.”

Yelp, on the other hand, has some of the less valuable users, at $21.21 each, but their individual posts are worth more than any other piece of social media content at $9.13. The social review site is worth $1.4 billion.

“What’s interesting about Yelp is that even though the content is harder to create, it’s more valuable to other Yelp users,” Mr. May said. “If you go to Yelp and say, ‘Hey, this restaurant is great, or it was horrible,’ that has a lot of value for other users.”

Much of the value has to do with how much time and energy it takes to create content.

“If I’m going to write a Yelp review, it might take me 8 minutes,” he said. “I’ve got to log in, think about what I’m going to say. If I’m going to write a tweet, it’s going to take me 15 seconds.”

Pinterest, valued at $500 million, makes $28.09 per user, but Mr. May said the photo-sharing social network piggybacks off of Facebook’s success because much of its activity comes through Facebook. “I think it’s overvalued because it relies too much on Facebook. If Facebook went away or banned Pinterest, their growth would dry off dramatically.”

• Tim Devaney can be reached at tdevaney@washingtontimes.com.

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