As bankers salivate over the long-awaited initial public offering of Facebook, I wondered: How much did my hard work go toward filling Facebook’s coffers? It’s a social media conundrum: The users create all the content that fills social media sites, but it’s a trade we make for the use of that service.
While the Wall Street Journal reports Mark Zuckerberg and crew could see an IPO valued at around $100 billion, I wanted to see just how much of that $100 billion is thanks to my sweat-stained status updates (Yes, sweat-stained! I ponder for at least several minutes over getting the just the right phrasing to let my family and friends know about my latest haircut!).
Figuring out your Facebook worth is not as easy as creating a hypothetical price per tweet, though I am going to borrow liberally from Esquire’s price-per-tweet equation. Compared with Twitter and it’s one platform offering, Facebook users compete with 900 million apps, games and business pages.
Since there are 800 million Facebook users, adding that to the 900 million other entities, and dividing it by the valuation, we can estimate the value of each page is on average: $58.82.
Of course, the valuation is what Facebook expects to earn in the future from advertising dollars, but one can argue that the valuation wouldn’t exist if not for all the status updates, photos and links we’ve shared. Only my hypothesis is: Facebook doesn’t care much if you post anything at all. The business model is based on selling your time on the site to advertisers. So you could spend all your time simply playing games, and Facebook would still dangle you as one of the attractive 800-million potential purchasers in front of would-be advertisers.
With that realization, I thought I’d go back to see how much cash Facebook has made off of my every interaction with the site. Here’s what I did to get my rough guesstimate:
1. Check my profile page and eyeball how many status updates, photos and comments I’ve made on the site this past week and multiply that by 4 (to find out how many updates per month). (For me, I’ve updated or commented 6 times this week. Most about my hair. So I’ll guess an average of 24 times this month.)
2. Multiply that by the number of months I’ve been a member on the site. (To find out how long you’ve been a member, find your first profile picture and use the upload date as a gauge. I joined in March 2008, so 45 months x 24 updates = 1,080 Updates Over Time (UOT).)
3. Divide that by the value of each page. ($58.82)
Granted, it’s a horribly imprecise equation, but it does give me a rough estimate of what my input has added to Facebook’s estimated valuation. It turns out: very little. Every time I liked a friend’s status, I added approximately five cents to the Facebook pool. I am mere cog in Facebook’s goliath wheel.
What does Facebook make off of you?
(Note: My editor thinks it would be better if I tweaked the math to get to only two cents. So I could leave off with a “that’s my two cents” line. Alas, the math gods did not bestow me with savvy equation skills. Got a better idea on how to value our Facebook updates? Let me know!)