by Brian Solis

OK, as if we didn’t have enough to talk about this weekend, Andrew Baron, founder of Rocketboom, decided to shake things up by putting his Twitter account up for auction on ebay including his 1,573 friends, well 1,574 including me.

Here’s his tweet.

First, there was Hugh MacLeod’s sudden departure from Twitter and now this? FWIW, I believe Hugh will be back when he’s ready. But there is a sense of responsibility for sharing relevant and interesting updates, which culminates in a form of pressure and induces deadline-oriented participation.
Perhaps this is merely a publicity stunt as Duncan Riley of TechCrunch points out. But what’s even more interesting is that this little merry-go-round doesn’t necessarily violate Twitter’s TOS.

Here’s Andrew’s rationale:

I really love my Twitter account but I feel like I haven’t been using it the way I want to. Quite honestly, I feel sorry for all of my followers because they wind up with my tweets in their timelines and I haven’t been able to utilize the medium the way I want to. I also participate in another Twitter account over on Rocketboom so I’m thinking I’ll post more over there and start up a new account to do what I want to do next.

It would be silly to just delete this account I have here, especially if there is someone out there that had like interests and had something to say or wanted to get involved in some relevant conversations. In terms of monetary value, I have no expectations or needs at all so I decided not to put a minimum bid on this. Whatever will be, will be.

http://twitter.com/andrewbaron

The winner of this auction gets my account with all of my followers. The account is in my name now, but the winner of the auction can pick any other name that’s available on Twitter for the transfer. For example, you could have http://www.twitter.com/x where x=any name thats not already taken. You can change it yourself at anytime too, one of the cool features about Twitter settings.

So basically it’s like getting a new account with your own name, but having a pre-installed audience.

The first sign of value to most people would be the number of followers I have (the audience size). At the beg. of this auction, there are 1397 followers and I am actually quite proud of the actual quality of these followers, moreso than the number. Feel free to explore everyone to see who’s there.

Also, as with any dynamic group, there is obviously risk. My followers could jump ship at anytime. There is no guarantee on this part. People will come and go, thats just the way it is. Whether you represent a company, a group or just yourself, this group will not want to be sold to, Im sure. The successful winner will share a reciprocal value with the followers.

First, this is has to be complete and utter BS. To think that an audience is for sale is absurd. This is the era of the Social Web and relationships, I would hope, are not for sale. But, I’m scratching my head on this one. April Fools Day was earlier this month, so is Andrew by chance, conducting a social experiment? He already has the Rocketboom account and has eluded to creating something new. Perhaps Andrew can email me or comment and let me know what’s really going on here. Mr. Baron is smart, entrepreneurial, and resourceful. I believe he knows what he’s doing. But as Stowe Boyd points out, it it is essentially meaningless.

Relationships are personal. Regardless of what everyone says in the “bitchmeme” or Techmeme, it is unequivocally indisputable. Communities are not, and should not, ever be for sale. The investment in cultivating these relationships is priceless, and they are forged through social capital and personal equity. They are irreplaceable.

Yes, it’s incredibly difficult to stay connected – especially via Twitter. But, let’s not confuse this with the value of relationships and the assumption that they are transferable because of a winning bid on ebay.

Can’t buy me love.

Connect with me on Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Pownce, Plaxo, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

About the Author:

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

Visit Brian's page at http://www.briansolis.com

Discussion

    no imageWilliam Smith (Who am I?)13 April 2008 9:15 pm

    Couldn’t agree more – total BS if he is actually serious about selling his account.

    Besides, it isn’t that difficult to get 1,000 followers. Jason Calacanis got like 16k just by offering a free mac book air. ;)

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    no imageAndrew Baron (Who am I?)13 April 2008 9:17 pm

    Hey Brian, nice post.

    After your last sentense in you post you state:

    “Connect with me on Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Pownce, Plaxo, FriendFeed, or Facebook.”….and your blog here.

    Maybe Twitter is not exactly a social network, but more of a microblog? Something that you put advertisements on and would likely? sell if the price was high enough?

    Its all very interesting to consider now as we build up our lives around these platforms.

    Cheers!
    Andrew

    BTW, thanks for making your photos CC, we’ve used them on RB several times – great work!

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    3.1
    no imageChris Heuer (Who am I?)13 April 2008 9:23 pm

    My point exactly. You can sell the account, you can sell the audience, but you cant sell the connections to the people or the purpose for why anyone was following Andrew.

    From a practical point of view, its an interesting way to get a jump start on becoming Twitterati, but if anyone is worth following, they will find their followers on their own.

    Then again, whoever buys it will get some instant notoriety for having bought it. IMHO its just a side show and an attention grabber that raises some interesting ethical issues for us to banter about. That said, there have already been some really great posts dissecting this issue from very interesting perspectives. So while I dont have time to dive in, I am enjoying the insights from all these smart folks out here…

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    3.5
    no imageTamar Weinberg (Who am I?)14 April 2008 6:28 am

    Yeah, completely pointless. I’m picky about who I follow on Twitter, and if they stop adding value to my feed, I will unfriend them without hesitation. Too bad I don’t follow andrewbaron or I would have already. Boasting current numbers doesn’t mean that they’ll stay that way. I think it would be ironic if Twitter killed the account (or better yet, at least removed all his followers). ;)

    I can’t believe that auction is at $1125 right now. I think most of us could have offered social media consulting on how to rightfully engage the community in less than half that amount with a lot more value.

    Some people are suckers for easy returns. Too bad that it won’t stick unless they invest in the community.

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    3.2
    no imageVincent Nicolai (Who am I?)14 April 2008 9:37 am

    what about selling you facebook acc? :)

    i added the post to http://www.tectrnd.com

    cheers

    vincent

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    3.1
    no imageArjun (Who am I?)16 April 2008 9:11 pm

    Was it an idea of “belated” April fool’s day….well can’t think of any thing else…like you said…can’t buy Love!!!

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    2.2
    no imageLosAngeles (Who am I?)19 May 2008 9:32 pm

    Assuming either the Left Wing or the Right Wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles.

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    3.1