Is Your Community For Sale

Baron Andrew Baron might or might not be joking about putting up his Twitter account for sale. If he’s joking, he’s gone to the effort of putting it up on eBay. Baron’s influential, known for creating and running Rocketboom, and a strong supporter of the video community. So, on one side, I could say that he has a valuable community of supporters. But on the other side, this is an interesting question: is your community for sale, and how does that work?

Can/Will Blogs Do It

Jerry Seinfeld had a great quote about baseball fans just “rooting for laundry” because of all the stars changing teams. With the rise of multi-writer blogs, and the looming potential for influential blogs to be bought up into larger networks or even mainstream media, how will that work?

If you’re reading Web Worker Daily or Copyblogger or Engadget or TechCrunch or another three or four dozen influential blogs, you’re reading a multi-author publication. So, if you align yourself as part of that community, and that community is sold to a larger publication, or if it merges, etc, do you just go along and stay a part of that community?

My guess is yes. In situations where there are people deeply tied to a publication, but there’s still a sense of more than one person stirring the pot (Copyblogger *is* Brian Clark, but it’s also his guest writers, and could ultimately be taken over by someone else), I think we can move as a community with it. I think.

But As a Twitter Account?

Not sure if Andrew will get his money. But then again, if he got even $100, that’s kind of interesting, because who’s out there thinking it’s worth $100? Not because ANDREW isn’t worth that, but what’s a Twitter account? It’s like selling your phone number. Doesn’t mean much unless you pick up when I call. Right?

Communities Aren’t Locked In

If this decade’s web technology legacy tells us anything, it’s that community is fluid and mercurial. Friendster to MySpace to Facebook to (we’re still waiting for the next one), and we’re still moving. We can jump in a heartbeat if you bug us.

So how is someone going to buy your community? What’s your community mean in a monetary sense, if you walk away?

What’s your take?

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  • http://www.idoitdigital.com Clintus McGintus

    I’m curious how it all pans out. I’m sure some will unfollow as soon as the auction is over if they haven’t already. Others will stick around to see how the new owner uses the account. Aside from all of the hype of the sale, I’m sand that Andrew no longer wishes to use Twitter for personnel use. I love following friends and people I’m interested in. So the fact that he is leaving all together is the part that bothers me. But I still have him in other places. We’ll see.

  • http://www.idoitdigital.com Clintus McGintus

    I’m curious how it all pans out. I’m sure some will unfollow as soon as the auction is over if they haven’t already. Others will stick around to see how the new owner uses the account. Aside from all of the hype of the sale, I’m sand that Andrew no longer wishes to use Twitter for personnel use. I love following friends and people I’m interested in. So the fact that he is leaving all together is the part that bothers me. But I still have him in other places. We’ll see.

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  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    You buy/sell news.
    You buy/sell information.
    You buy/sell brands.
    You buy/sell websites.

    You CAN’T buy/sell personality.

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    You buy/sell news.
    You buy/sell information.
    You buy/sell brands.
    You buy/sell websites.

    You CAN’T buy/sell personality.

  • http://www.sandbarstosunsets.com Cyndee Haydon

    I thought this was a joke when you posted on Twitter – I am curious to see what happens because to me it’s nothing without him – people are following and communicating with “him” – lurking to see what happens. And if you bought it – what’s it worth if everyone quits following?

  • http://www.sandbarstosunsets.com Cyndee Haydon

    I thought this was a joke when you posted on Twitter – I am curious to see what happens because to me it’s nothing without him – people are following and communicating with “him” – lurking to see what happens. And if you bought it – what’s it worth if everyone quits following?

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  • http://biggsuccess.com Mary-Lynn

    No cuddling, no love. Just let me follow you, and then sell me. I feel so used…

  • http://biggsuccess.com Mary-Lynn

    No cuddling, no love. Just let me follow you, and then sell me. I feel so used…

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  • http://EricSusch.com Eric Susch

    I don’t get why some people are so upset by what Andrew is doing. I’m one of his followers and I know him personally. I’m not being “sold.” I have not lost control of myself. I can un-follow at any time. Communities self-correct themselves. If something changes the main value of the community, people just leave and go someplace else.

    I think the only thing Andrew is going to prove is that some people will pay a lot of money for something that will be totally worthless.

  • http://EricSusch.com Eric Susch

    I don’t get why some people are so upset by what Andrew is doing. I’m one of his followers and I know him personally. I’m not being “sold.” I have not lost control of myself. I can un-follow at any time. Communities self-correct themselves. If something changes the main value of the community, people just leave and go someplace else.

    I think the only thing Andrew is going to prove is that some people will pay a lot of money for something that will be totally worthless.

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  • http://www.constantskeptic.com/ the constant skeptic

    I am #skeptical of loren feldman, but his ebay bid for his twitter account is now up to 1125 USD. @EricSusch I I agree that people will pay a lot of money for something that is worthless.

    I think what is more interesting is that maybe he is proving that rich entrepreneurs who do not know twitter or what it is about will get misled into thinking they are buying something of value. This may be the beginning of the next web bubble bursting, just very slowly.

  • http://www.constantskeptic.com/ the constant skeptic

    I am #skeptical of loren feldman, but his ebay bid for his twitter account is now up to 1125 USD. @EricSusch I I agree that people will pay a lot of money for something that is worthless.

    I think what is more interesting is that maybe he is proving that rich entrepreneurs who do not know twitter or what it is about will get misled into thinking they are buying something of value. This may be the beginning of the next web bubble bursting, just very slowly.

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  • http://www.ecomemphis.com M_Barger

    Perhaps the point that Andrew is making…

    We have a great thing going on here – SM, the voice of the people, communincation, etc. But as you mention, what happens when that communication is sold to another company? Certainly the purchaser will have intents/goals that differ from the sellers – the overall message would change.

    Chris, your theory has a good deal of potential, but when that happens aren’t we “cattle” again? If the buyers also buy the pen names as well, only the acutely attuned may have any insight to such a change.

    This could eventually lead to the resurgence of oneway communications (advertising) that make most consumers cynical, morose and apathetic towards brands.

  • http://www.ecomemphis.com M_Barger

    Perhaps the point that Andrew is making…

    We have a great thing going on here – SM, the voice of the people, communincation, etc. But as you mention, what happens when that communication is sold to another company? Certainly the purchaser will have intents/goals that differ from the sellers – the overall message would change.

    Chris, your theory has a good deal of potential, but when that happens aren’t we “cattle” again? If the buyers also buy the pen names as well, only the acutely attuned may have any insight to such a change.

    This could eventually lead to the resurgence of oneway communications (advertising) that make most consumers cynical, morose and apathetic towards brands.

  • http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/26367 Matt Bowman

    Welcome to the credibility market. Develope a reputation then sell it to spammers. Editorial prostitution.

    More thoughts here: http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/26367

  • http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/26367 Matt Bowman

    Welcome to the credibility market. Develope a reputation then sell it to spammers. Editorial prostitution.

    More thoughts here: http://alwayson.goingon.com/permalink/post/26367

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  • http://www.99daz.com Darren Daz Cox

    I assume a business interest will buy the account and then you’ll have clever advertising disguised as personal tweets?

  • http://www.99daz.com Darren Daz Cox

    I assume a business interest will buy the account and then you’ll have clever advertising disguised as personal tweets?

  • http://www.tech-exposed.com Laloj

    http://www.tech-exposed.com

    Being part of something, even a blogging community, makes it much more personal. Meaning, if a blog were sold to another entity then most persons of that community feel a sense of betrayal and will look for another community in whcich to be a part of.

  • http://www.tech-exposed.com Laloj

    http://www.tech-exposed.com

    Being part of something, even a blogging community, makes it much more personal. Meaning, if a blog were sold to another entity then most persons of that community feel a sense of betrayal and will look for another community in whcich to be a part of.

  • http://tonykatz.blogspot.com Tony Katz

    Chris,

    This isn’t about community, its about publicity. About a year ago, they decided to sell their Vloggie award (http://rocketboom.wikia.com/wiki/Vloggie).
    Before that, is was advertising for sale (http://digg.com/tech_news/Rocketboom_to_Sell_Advertising_on_eBay._(With_a_Catch)).

    I don’t call this social media. I call it an irrational love of Ebay. Are they paying for this kind of advertising? Or, how much Ebay stock does Andrew own?

    Take care.

    Tony Katz

  • http://tonykatz.blogspot.com Tony Katz

    Chris,

    This isn’t about community, its about publicity. About a year ago, they decided to sell their Vloggie award (http://rocketboom.wikia.com/wiki/Vloggie).
    Before that, is was advertising for sale (http://digg.com/tech_news/Rocketboom_to_Sell_Advertising_on_eBay._(With_a_Catch)).

    I don’t call this social media. I call it an irrational love of Ebay. Are they paying for this kind of advertising? Or, how much Ebay stock does Andrew own?

    Take care.

    Tony Katz

  • http://rickmahn.com Rick Mahn

    Interesting… Assuming that he is serious and it is for sale – how does Hugh MacLeod’s deleting of his own Twitter account affect the value of Andrew’s account?

    Honestly, assuming that there is some monetary value attached to a Twitter account of a well known person, wouldn’t Hugh’s action last week degrade the value of Andrew’s?

    Of course, in my book a Twitter account in the name of an individual has no monetary worth. It has value to me if it’s the actual person using it to share and interact with the community. If Andrew (or Scoble, Brogan, Rubel, Winer) were to sell their Twitter account and another person started to post using it – I’d drop it immediately. I’m interested in the thoughts and interactions of the people I follow, not the name that it’s posted under.

    Like I said though, interesting…

  • http://rickmahn.com/ Rick Mahn

    Interesting… Assuming that he is serious and it is for sale – how does Hugh MacLeod’s deleting of his own Twitter account affect the value of Andrew’s account?

    Honestly, assuming that there is some monetary value attached to a Twitter account of a well known person, wouldn’t Hugh’s action last week degrade the value of Andrew’s?

    Of course, in my book a Twitter account in the name of an individual has no monetary worth. It has value to me if it’s the actual person using it to share and interact with the community. If Andrew (or Scoble, Brogan, Rubel, Winer) were to sell their Twitter account and another person started to post using it – I’d drop it immediately. I’m interested in the thoughts and interactions of the people I follow, not the name that it’s posted under.

    Like I said though, interesting…

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  • Leif Hansen

    Predictions:

    Scenario #1 After this fascinating experiment goes viral, Andrew will change his mind at the last minute, smile, and enjoy the increase in followers, publicity and more.

    Scenario #2 Andrew gets a surprising chunk from ebay; the buyer gets a short boost of hits and then a gradual drop-off of twitter followers (the ones that would be of value); Andrew is relieved from the burden of a tool he wasn’t using and enjoying; a mass of new twitter accounts are created by those with copy-cat ideas; @HilaryClinton sells her account to Obama for…oh wait, she’s only got 3k followers to his 23k…well, he still buys it cause he’s nice.

    Kudos for getting people thinking about many key questions here Andrew (whether or not you thought it would bring up so many questions about community, value, etc.)

    -Leif
    http://www.SparkSocialMedia.com

  • http://www.SparkSocialMedia Leif Hansen

    Predictions:

    Scenario #1 After this fascinating experiment goes viral, Andrew will change his mind at the last minute, smile, and enjoy the increase in followers, publicity and more.

    Scenario #2 Andrew gets a surprising chunk from ebay; the buyer gets a short boost of hits and then a gradual drop-off of twitter followers (the ones that would be of value); Andrew is relieved from the burden of a tool he wasn’t using and enjoying; a mass of new twitter accounts are created by those with copy-cat ideas; @HilaryClinton sells her account to Obama for…oh wait, she’s only got 3k followers to his 23k…well, he still buys it cause he’s nice.

    Kudos for getting people thinking about many key questions here Andrew (whether or not you thought it would bring up so many questions about community, value, etc.)

    -Leif
    http://www.SparkSocialMedia.com

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  • http://originalcomment.blogspot.com John Johansen

    My 2 cents. I just didn’t like the way he framed it in his eBay posting. He states that he’s selling his following of over 1,000 people.
    To me, that shows that he wasn’t interested in using Twitter to connect to people but to build up another audience willing to consume his content. While there is room for that on Twitter, I don’t see it transferring well through just some random eBay auction.

    He does have a disclaimer at the bottom that people may unfollow but his intention to sell his followers seems shallow.

  • http://originalcomment.blogspot.com John Johansen

    My 2 cents. I just didn’t like the way he framed it in his eBay posting. He states that he’s selling his following of over 1,000 people.
    To me, that shows that he wasn’t interested in using Twitter to connect to people but to build up another audience willing to consume his content. While there is room for that on Twitter, I don’t see it transferring well through just some random eBay auction.

    He does have a disclaimer at the bottom that people may unfollow but his intention to sell his followers seems shallow.

  • http://twitter.com/edoardoc Edoardo

    He is not selling friends, he is selling an account and not sensible informations.

    People sells businesses everyday, a friend of mine is selling his Bar, that doesn’t mean he is selling his usual guests as well (even though this represent a value in the beginning).

    Think about people working in a big company, happens everyday and we say “we got sold” even if it is not like that, we know we can find another job if we don’t like the new owners.

    So a twitter account is a business? yes, you don’t get money directly from it but if you twitt smart you may end up having 1500 followers that you can influent about something (or not) and this is a possibility that could lead you to make some money out of it.

    Do I like it? personally no, as I don’t like people selling and buying databases, bad shows on tv, etc. etc.

  • Edoardo

    He is not selling friends, he is selling an account and not sensible informations.

    People sells businesses everyday, a friend of mine is selling his Bar, that doesn’t mean he is selling his usual guests as well (even though this represent a value in the beginning).

    Think about people working in a big company, happens everyday and we say “we got sold” even if it is not like that, we know we can find another job if we don’t like the new owners.

    So a twitter account is a business? yes, you don’t get money directly from it but if you twitt smart you may end up having 1500 followers that you can influent about something (or not) and this is a possibility that could lead you to make some money out of it.

    Do I like it? personally no, as I don’t like people selling and buying databases, bad shows on tv, etc. etc.

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  • http://aureliusmaximus.wordpress.com/ Marco

    you are DEAD on.

    One of the most fascinating things to me is the growing fluidity of the web’s current landscape and the challenges it will continue to create for existing and emerging businesses alike.

    The gradual erosion of brand loyalty is an amazing thing to watch – Google is destroying the search market right now but if a more powerful search engine with an equal or better interface landed tomorrow who WOULDN’T jump ship in a heartbeat?

    That said the delay in adoption rates will serve as a bottleneck to extreme instability. I wouldn’t classify myself as an early adopter but I eagerly follow those of you who are and it has been a real eye opener. It has been interesting to see how some of you who exist at the center of these new web developments have already tired of Facebook’s weaknesses and moved on while everyone else is still very much overwhelmed by the myriad of options.

    These dynamics will serve those who purchase “communities” or blogs well since I imho it will mean that – while aggressive users will likely bail and follow the other members of their particular community – everyone else will just be learning about a popular site or product and file in (or remain)…for a time.

  • http://aureliusmaximus.wordpress.com/ Marco

    you are DEAD on.

    One of the most fascinating things to me is the growing fluidity of the web’s current landscape and the challenges it will continue to create for existing and emerging businesses alike.

    The gradual erosion of brand loyalty is an amazing thing to watch – Google is destroying the search market right now but if a more powerful search engine with an equal or better interface landed tomorrow who WOULDN’T jump ship in a heartbeat?

    That said the delay in adoption rates will serve as a bottleneck to extreme instability. I wouldn’t classify myself as an early adopter but I eagerly follow those of you who are and it has been a real eye opener. It has been interesting to see how some of you who exist at the center of these new web developments have already tired of Facebook’s weaknesses and moved on while everyone else is still very much overwhelmed by the myriad of options.

    These dynamics will serve those who purchase “communities” or blogs well since I imho it will mean that – while aggressive users will likely bail and follow the other members of their particular community – everyone else will just be learning about a popular site or product and file in (or remain)…for a time.

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