"@blahblah Can't twitter from work :-("

From some of the tweets on twitter it appears that some organizations are blocking the strangely popular and addictive social networking site. Even Don has expressed concern that "tweeting" could be dangerously distracting and decrease productivity, not to mention that tweeting during business hours costs the organization money. That led us to a conversation in which we tried to determine the financial cost to organizations of tweeting.

To do so, we have to make certain assumptions. Those assumptions are:

  • The average WPM typing speed of a twitterer: 70
  • The average words per tweet (based on traditional publishing guidelines of 5 characters per word and an average of 100 characters per tweet): 20
  • The average time to type a tweet: 30 seconds
  • The average tweets per day: 15 ( From a TechCrunch article analyzing Twitter stats)
  • 10 of your employees are twittering
  • The average salary of twittering employees is $50,000.

That breaks down to $0.40 per minute per employee. Each of the 10 twittering employees spends 7.5 minutes sending tweets during the day, resulting in a total cost per day for the organization of: $30.00.

Not too bad at all. Certainly nothing to get all worked up about.

But Twitterers don't just tweet, they read, too (don't we have a Twitterific euphemism for reading tweets, yet?) So we have to add that in. Let's assume the same number and average salary for employees, but that they also spend 10 minutes per day reading tweets. That's an additional $4.00 per day per person.

So the total cost per day to an organization for 10 twittering employees: $70.00

Now we know, intrinsically, that this isn't the total cost. We aren't even going to attempt to calculate the cost of bandwidth to send/receive tweets or the power consumption on the firewall and routers needed to transport the tweets. (With a maximum of 140 characters, the overhead in IP and TCP information required to send the tweet is more data than the tweet itself. Sure, it only takes one packet to carry the tweet, but it takes 7 others to set up and tear down the connection to twitter). We're going to assume that the cost there is pretty negligible and besides, the infrastructure was already there and being used, right?

That means the total annual cost to the organization in this scenario is: $18200.00. That still doesn't sound bad at all, does it?

If you agree then I'm sure you won't mind cutting me a check every year for $18200. If enough organizations willing to waste that much money a year send it my way instead, I can probably take a really nice vacation. It's likely my vacation will add as much value to your organization as twittering does today, and as a bonus I won't be using up your network resources or potentially compromising your security.

Just send me an e-mail and I'll get you the address so you can send me that check, pronto. I can even send you a postcard while I'm on my vacation.

Or maybe I'll just tweet you.

[edited 6/4/2008 to fix the math errors pointed out by Mark in the comments. I really hate math some days]

Imbibing: Coffee