Do You Recognise This Man? (You Should – He’s The Most Influential Person On Twitter)

The quantification of influence within the social space is a hot topic, and a potential goldmine for the development team that properly cracks it.

Platforms such as Klout and PeerIndex have given it a good shot, but they’re far from perfect. Part of the problem is nobody can really answer what appears to be a simple question, but is actually incredibly complex. Namely: what is influence?

New York Times magazine The 6th Floor have worked with Twitter analytics website Twitalyzer to study this question, and the results are both surprising and interesting.

Sure, Lady Gaga has the most followers on Twitter, with Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Barack Obama and Ashton Kutcher bringing up the rear. But popularity on the network has always been a flawed way to measure influence, as it’s often entirely superficial.

An Index Of Influence

Using Twitalyzer’s Influence Index, which counts the number of times a user’s Twitter name is mentioned and retweeted by other users, the researchers were able to determine how much and how heavily the most-followed users on Twitter were impacting the network and affecting the conversation.

In short: lots of data was processed and an influence score between zero and one hundred was returned for the most popular users on Twitter. How would this number hold up against their popularity ranking?

The Results

Perhaps the biggest revelation is after crunching all these numbers, the Index revealed that the single most influential user on Twitter is (drum roll)… Brazilian stand-up comedian Rafinha Bastos (@rafinhabastos).

Who? Yeah, I’m with you, but that’s mostly down to our collective ignorance. Twitter is huge in Brazil, and so is Bastos, with over 1.83 million followers. His influence score was a heady 90/100.

In second place was NFL and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (@ochocinco), who was just pipped to the top spot with his score of 89. Ochocinco has 1.85 million followers.

The rest of the top ten are perhaps more well-established, at least to the common or garden man in the street, and include Conan O’Brien (88 points), Stephen Fry (87) and Barack Obama (83).

The 10 Most Influential People On Twitter

1. Rafinha Bastos (Followers: 1,690,817, Influence: 90)
2. Chad Ochocinco (Followers: 1,651,070, Influence: 89)
3. Conan O’Brien (Followers: 2,367,928, Influence: 88)
4. Stephen Fry (Followers: 2,188,395, Influence: 87)
5. Ryan Seacrest (Followers: 3,880,840, Influence: 86)
6. Snoop Dogg (Followers: 2,536,996, Influence: 85)
7. Barack Obama (Followers: 6,531,868, Influence: 83)
8. Rainn Wilson (Followers: 2,168,826, Influence: 83)
9. Kim Kardashian (Followers: 6,032,559, Influence: 81)
10. Huck Luciano (Followers: 2,663,202, Influence: 77)

Of note is Lady Gaga’s score, which is just 41. Oprah Winfrey scored just 40. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian registered a cracking 81, largely because of how well and often she engages with non-celebrities in her network.

Other discoveries:

  • Barack Obama (83) has over twice the influence of Sarah Palin (39) and six times that of Newt Gingrich (13)
  • Shaquille O’Neal (47) owns Dwight Howard (34)
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, popular religious Twitterers score very well – evangelist Rick Warren rates an 87 while spiritualist Deepak Chopra scored 85
  • Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey scored a pathetic 42 and 35 respectively. Which actually makes sense, as (amazingly and ironically) they’ve always been poor examples of how to use Twitter
  • It helps considerably if you’re tweeting from the USA, Brazil, England or Canada, which are the four countries where Twitter is most popular
  • As with Kim Kardashian, celebrities that speak to the ‘little people’ see a significant boost in their influence

All interesting stuff, and more evidence that follow count is an over-hyped measure of significance. Bottom line: it’s nice if thousands or even millions of people want to connect with you on Twitter, but none of that really matters if you don’t connect back.