Earlier today Phil Bradley published a post on “The value of a tweet“. The post was about the way in which a tweet can be retweeted, especially by someone famous with lots of followers: i.e. Neil Gaiman, @neilhimself, with his 1.5 million followers (note I’d never heard of him!), in order to generate traffic to a resource (in this case a series of photos on the value of libraries). The tweet which had the value was:

which was retweeted following a request from @arktemplar. The tweet from @neilhimself helped to raise awareness of Phil’s series of retro posters on the value of Libraries  across the Twitter community, as can be seen from Twitoaster.  As Phil described in his blog post he saw a huge increase in traffic to his Flickr set, as can be seen from the graph.

But how do we assess the value of Phil’s original tweets which referred to the Flickr photos and the subsequent retweets?

Is the value in the content of the 140 characters? In part, but the value of the content is enhanced by the esteem by which Phil is held within the Library sector, the knowledge that many people will have of Phil’s passion for libraries and the online community  which Phil is an active member of, which is based around his Twitter account, his blog and his other can you buy antibiotics online online accounts such as his Flickr and his Podcast accounts. Phil also knows how to make effective use of such services, so his use of the #savelibraries Twitter hashtag will have helped in the dissemination of the tweet to people who don’t follow Phil directly. In addition his use of a bit.ly short UIRL enables statistics on clicks on the URL to be accessed (by appending a + to the bit.ly URL – i.e. http://bit.ly/eI5m2e+).

But do the original tweet and the subsequent retweets have value in themselves or is the value in the impact they have?  The tweets could have some financial value if, for example, they linked to a pages which contained ads. But this isn’t the case here.  Surely, then, the value is in raising awareness of the value of libraries across large numbers of users, with the aim, clearly, of trying to address the cuts in UK public libraries.  Now how much would such a campaign cost if it was carried out using old media? I’m not in a position to make such comparisons but I can’t help but feel that Phil’s tweets, his use of the new media and his engagement with his online community have provided a valuable return on the investment for his series of Twitter posts.