How to analyze your Twitter followers and friends

Site analytics and subscriber counters can give a good idea of how many people are reading your content, but every good blogger knows that readers are more than just numbers.

In order to get a better picture of the diverse people and personalities that read 10,000 Words, I turned to Twitter where the hundreds of people who follow @10000Words provide bios that give more insight into each person’s unique personality. After some thorough analysis, I now know more about everyone and can tailor the blog to cater to each persons interest.

Before we get into who is following 10,000 Words on Twitter, I first wanted to analyze what I’ve been tweeting. And here it is, presented in a word cloud:

Every tweet ever posted by @10000Words was copied at one time using the Greasemonkey script Endless Tweets, which automatically loads older tweets when scrolling on the Twitter timeline (Find out more about the Greasemonkey extension here). The word cloud was created using Wordle; click the image to view a larger version.

Because I also tweet a lot of links, I wanted to visualize the type of content I have been linking to:

The text from this word cloud comes from the link names and descriptions listed by Twitturly, an online service that tracks Twitter users’ outgoing links. The site can also be used for tracking what everyone is talking about on Twitter in real time.

Now on to analyzing Twitter followers. I was especially curious about where everyone was from, especially because of those pesky time zone problems. According to this map, many are from the US, but many more are from Canada and Europe. The map was created using Yahoo Pipes and was amended from this existing Pipe. The original version required a Twitter username and password, but it was changed to pull from a single self-created XML file. Also, because the Twitter-generated XML file only lists about 100 followers per page, it was necessary to view each page and merge the XML files using simple copy and paste.

By extracting from the combined XML file the “description” tag that Twitter appends to each user, I was also able to gather the text of each person’s bio. That text was run through Wordle and here are the results:

If XML isn’t your cup of tea, TwitterSheep produces a similar word cloud of your followers’ bios (Twitter username and password required). Greasemonkey fans can use Twitter Friends’ Bio at a Glance to display each follower or friend’s bio and link when viewing them as a list. Also, check out the Twitter Mosaic creator for viewing your followers’ avatars all in one place.

A big thank you to everyone following 10,000 Words on Twitter! If you aren’t doing so already, check out @10000Words for useful tips and links you won’t see on the blog. Also, be sure to subscribe to the 10,000 Words RSS feed so you never miss a post.

Also on 10,000 Words:

10 Journalists you should follow on Twitter
25 Tools for getting more out of Twitter
How to design for a computer other than your own
10,000 Words Year-end wrap-up and word cloud