What Does Twitter Really Say

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Twitter began like a joke but is now graduating to being a big deal. It was conceived by Jack Dorsey et al and was launched on March 21, 2006 under the social media and microblogging platform. Facebook came two years after and put twitter in the backburner. Facebook ranks second on the Alexa rankings of websites the world over while twitter ranks 11 up from 12 as at June this year. However, I am of the opinion that twitter is bidding its time and that time is now and at the present pace at which it is on it will soon overtake Facebook in appeal and usefulness if not in number of visitors and revenue. With twitter came information; crisp, concise and immediate at the snap of your finger. Twitter gives us 140 characters to express ourselves explicitly but more importantly succinctly and if you cannot do so in this hurried world of headlines-news-only then you may move over to other social media sites. On the other end of the stick you have, at most, 140 characters to decipher and understand a tweet; if you have mental or psychometric problems then you will also have to move over. Twitter is shrinking an already shrunken world and is helping to translate the ‘global village’ into a ‘global street.’ And soon we will be talking about a ‘global house’ or even a room. With Twitter also came ease of association. Influential figures in different spheres of life that were so faraway and unreachable suddenly became so close via Twitter. You don’t have to hear through word of mouth, or wait for the tabloids before you know that Coleen Rooney (@coleenroo) just delivered a baby boy hours ago because her husband, Wayne Rooney (@waynerooney) told you so himself via Twitter and of course you  know assuredly that the baby was named klay! Awesome! This ease of access unfortunately also means that I can tell the high and mighty Donald Trump (@realdonaldtrump) that I don’t like him (with a pseudonym if I am his employee though) and he will advise I stop following him ASAP. This order I may or may not carry out and if I am nuisance enough he may block my handle. But I will open another Twitter account and continue my clandestine molestation; something I won’t dare do physically. Talk about freedom of speech personified. Or on a better note, I can ask @serenawilliams any question on her #serenafriday and may just have the world’s number one tennis player reply my question face-to-face, sorry, twitter-to-twitter. But beyond these lie an even greater use of Twitter; understanding people. Off statements, careless comments, often used words etc will give you a glimpse of the personality of that so-called ‘idol’ of yours.  In addition to getting personal information you may also get personal insight into the real person.

Moreover, one thing is common for every tweep and that is we wish we had more followers proving what we already know that in every man is the innate desire to lead people but with little desire to follow. In this article we want to look at Twitter and its account holders through the eyes of the number of their followership.

Justin Bieber (@justinbieber), Katy Perry (@katyperry) and Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) are the three most followed people via Twitter on earth with 44m, 42 and 40m followers each. They are musicians. Does this mean that entertainment rank number one in the wishlist of people using twitter account users as the world’s sample? It sure seems so because after musicians we have sportsmen as the next cadre of people with most followership on twitter. The next on the list are TV/showbiz personalities with Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) and Oprah Winfrey (@oprahwinfrey) netting a combined 23m followers between them. They are one of the highest followed on the TV personalities and showbiz caucus that I randomly selected. Normally, we would expect politics and religion to be front runners in the race to be followed because they are the vitriol that has kept and is keeping the world burning but twitter followership is giving us a completely different answer to the question because they rank well below top business men who occupy 4th position on our twitter followers list. Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump), Bill Gates (@billgates), Richard Branson (@richardbranson) and Warren Buffet (@warrenbuffet), who just joined less than 9 months ago, have an average of 5m followers each. The figures is however skewed because Bil Gates and Warren Buffet have 12m and 654k followers respectively. For political personalities, Bill Clinton (@billclinton) and David Cameron (@davidcameron) managed to muster an average of less than a million (Three-quarters to be precise.) And as an aside, @barackobama is in a world of his own as he is an exception to this rule with 36m followers and clinched the fourth position on the current list of most followed person the world over. Do we take this to mean that people don’t really care about the politics of the world or else why would the world’s former most powerful man have a followership of just 1m, while David Cameron has 444k which is less than 5 percent of an entertainer’s? Religion which used to be another sun around which our world revolved and could still be revolving cannot compete with footballers. Why would the office of the world’s most popular religious denomination, @pontifex, have half of what 28-year old Manchester United footballer @waynerooney has? With an estimated global membership of 1billion will it be statistically unfair to say that at least 1 percent of them (that is 10m followers) should be on twitter? And even if they were not wouldn’t the lure of having the pope speak directly to them on twitter be enough motivation to join the platform? Or is religion left in the church and is exclusive to bibles and Sundays without any need to have it on their phones? On a pleasant note for religion, though, is the Dalai Lama (@dalailama) with 7.6m followers. What would one, however, construe of followership on twitter of the office of the President of the United States @potus, a country which has a population of 300m people but @potus only has 1.5m followers (as at June.) Requests must now be sent and approved before the handle can be followed or accessed. However, the man in the office is a lot more popular than the office he is occupying because @barackobama nets an average of 36m plus followers making him the followed politician on twitter. This dichotomy should not be there in the first place because @potus is an office and not a person. It remains whether a democrat or a republican or an independent is in power. Or does this go to show that the mathematic of Twitter followership does not align with logical reasoning?

With successful business men and women between TV personalities and religion/politics twitter may be helping us to reconfirm that after entertainment (music, sports and TV people) money is the next on people’s minds. Although, money is a long way behind entertainment on the chart.

In a funny but now usual twitter twist (I guess twitter could also have been called twister) some actors did make the six digit followers figures but not as big as their music counterparts. Actors could not make it as big as their music entertainment counterparts.   Angelina Jolie had a mere 200k+ followers (as at June, but she’s nowhere to be found now. Guess account has been deleted) while Kiefer Sutherland (@realkiefer) of the 24 fame could only muster 259k followers. However, Hugh Jackman (@hughjackman) grabbed 3m of the followers’ spoil. No other actors or actresses polled were found in the million bracket. Massed up with actors tweeps in the hundreds of thousands followers are newsmen and women who we had to separate from other TV personalities. CNN’s duo of Christiana Amanpour (@camanpour) and Richard Quest (@richardquest,) Aljazeera’s Femi Oke (@Femioke) and NBC’s Chelsea Clinton (@chelseaclinton) are however below actors. Guess we are all bored of the news these days.

Do these figures show what people’s mind are on? What they want to read and comment on? The old adage may now be modified to show me your Twitter handle and I will tell you who you are.

Below is the list of ten most followed people on earth as at August 30, 2013. (Source: wikipedia)

  1. Justin Bieber (44.1 million followers worldwide)
  2. Katy Perry (42.2m)
  3. Lady Gaga (40.0m)
  4. Barack Obama (36.2) – most followed account for a politician
  5. Taylor Swift (33.6m)
  6. YouTube (33.1m) – highest account not representing an individual
  7. Britney Spears (31.6m)
  8. Rihanna (31.5m)
  9. Instagram (26.0m)
  10. Justin Timberlake (25.3m)

What else do you think twitter says?

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