What is the value of a social networking profile?

After reading a recent article about the ban on selling digital goods on eBay, except in the classified section, I began thinking about this question.

What is the value of a social networking profile?

When thinking about launching a product or service you want to reach the people who will not only use it, but also discuss it with others. Some call these early adopters “sneezers”, or “mavens”, or any other number of buzzwords – but the goal is to get word of mouth marketing going.

The best way to get this done electronically is to send out a message to a group of friends that you are connected with. This got me thinking about the actual dollar value behind social profiles. For years people have been selling profiles, and message blasts on myspace and other social networks so this is nothing new. But my thoughts are more about a trusted source profile.

Technically your social graph is composed of your connections, friends, acquaintances, and contacts. What happens when one of your trusted contacts sends out a spam blast? This could be the result of a mismatch message not designed for you, or it could be the result of a paid placement.

This all boils down to figuring out the value of your profile. This is not really about making money or monetizing my own profiles, but really getting down to the value of a social networking profile. We have looked at the value of visitors on social networks before, but never a direct look at the individual users themselves.

I am looking at the best way to quantify the value for the network itself as well as the value for the individual user. This definitely gives me a few ideas for calculation – but they all involve getting into each account which is an impossibility.

Companies like Friendfeed and others however not have access to the true value of a users profile as they can reach into every profile that user has, and see the connections by quantity and quality.