MC Hammer Can’t Touch Social Media Geeks, Tweeting Cats When it Comes to Influence on Twitter

A Preview of WEP Report #4

When deciding whether someone is worth following or talking to on Twitter, most of us make a snap judgment based on a user’s follower count, but what does this really tell us?

For our fourth publication, the Web Ecology Project decided to move beyond follower count to find a better way to measure influence on Twitter. Focusing in on a handful of celebrities, news outlets, and social media experts widely perceived to be among the Twitter elite, we looked at the extent to which each of these users can:

  • Spread content through twitter by generating Retweets and Via’s
  • Foster conversation by generating @s and Replies

The results, taken from 10 days of Twitter activity (August 15th through August 24th), were surprising. Consider how the users we looked at rank by follower count:

Follower Rankings

When you look at the extent to which any given tweet can spread content or foster conversation, these rankings change significantly:

average content spread per tweet

average conversation activity per tweet

iJustine, for example, can spread more content than MCHammer, who has over twice as many followers, and in terms of generating conversation celebrities like THE_REAL_SHAQ and aplusk tower dominate news outlets and social media experts alike.

When you look at how much each of these users is able to generate conversation and spread content relative to their follower counts, however, the rankings shift even more dramatically:

average content spread per 1000 followers

average conversation activity per 1000 followers

Values for MCHammer, aplusk, THE_REAL_SHAQ and CNNbrk plummet, while the social media experts, especially Chris Brogan, become powerful players.

These figures are just a taste of what’s to come. In our full report, we’ll unpack these numbers further and explore the somewhat surprising nuances and types of influence on Twitter.