Popularity on Twitter has always been a slightly controversial topic. Most studies (and critics) agree that large follower counts aren’t necessarily indicative of anything, certainly influence, and it’s very easy to game Twitter to artificially increase your numbers (superficial as those networks always, always are).
But: people love lists, and people love winners, so lists of who is winning on Twitter – inasmuch as popularity has always been a commonly-applied measure of success in all mediums – go down as smoothly as a five-dollar milkshake.
At the time of writing, 382 people on Twitter can boast a following of more than one million followers. Lady Gaga remains top of the pile right now, but she’s being steadily caught by a fast-charging Justin Bieber.
However, if and when Bieber catches Gaga it won’t have any impact on an interest statistic that is found at the very top of Twitter’s most popular list – namely, that 7 of the top 10 most followed users on the network are women.
- Lady Gaga
- Justin Bieber
- Britney Spears
- Barack Obama
- Kim Kardashian
- Ashton Kutcher
- Katy Perry
- Ellen DeGeneres
- Taylor Swift
- Oprah Winfrey
Indeed, this trend continues a little further down the rankings – 9 of the top 13 are female, and if you remove gender-free accounts such as @Twitter, @twitter_es and @CNNbrk from the data, so are 11 of the top 17, and 17 of the top 27.
Does this mean anything? Perhaps. These ladies are all mega-celebrities, naturally, with global fame and popularity that spreads far beyond Twitter. But it also might be indicative of a new and younger audience on Twitter which, while always having a female bias (like within all social media), used to be a lot older.
Anecdotally, I still don’t see teenagers taking to Twitter in great numbers – certainly, my teenage son and his friends have absolutely zero interest in Twitter, but are all over Facebook – but this might be a pattern that is limited to the UK (or even my immediate location). So I’m wondering if the other large Twitter hotspots – the USA, Brazil and Canada – have seen an influx of younger, female users in the past year or so, and that may well explain why Twitter’s most-followed are also typically female, and also likely to be in music or television (but not movies, interestingly).
But without richer data, and as per usual, all of this is just speculation right now. If only somebody was privy to the actual numbers.