Social Media: It’s About Who, Not How Many [STUDY]

Despite the massive number of followers that folks like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber boast on Twitter, they’re not necessarily the social media leaders they appear to be.

A new study suggests that the demographic makeup of fans and followers means more than the sheer number of connections you have.

Researchers from New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examined the Facebook profiles and posts of 1.3 million users to see how influence is built on social media.

Here are some of their findings:

  • Men are more influential than women
  • Women influence men more than they influence other women
  • Those 30 years of age and older are more influential than those younger than 30
  • Those 30 years of age and older are less likely to be influenced than those younger than 30
  • Married people are the least likely to be influenced

The researchers say that social media influence needs to shift focus from how many people are listening to the quality of those listeners – something any good social media marketer already knows, but an idea that is often omitted from the mainstream.

Too often the mainstream media touts how many followers a politician, celebrity or other famous face has on Twitter, rather than dig into the actual influence they hold over these followers. Of course, numbers are the most obvious measurement of “success” to the untrained eye, but a more nuanced analysis of actual social media leaders – based on demographics like this research indicates – would provide a deeper understand of exactly what kind of value Twitter, Facebook and other networks offer.

Do you think demographics play an important role in how influential you are on Twitter? Or is it still just about the number of followers you have? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

(Hat tip:; Social network image via Shutterstock)