The Kings And Queens Of Social
Looking at the most popular users on a networking app is a quick way to get a sense of the culture there. So, I put together a spreadsheet of the top 20 most followed people on LinkedIn (founded in 2002), Facebook (2004), Twitter (2006), Instagram (2010), and Vine (2013). I would love to see Snapchat’s data, but they don’t make that information public. Which is good, because then people would see that I have a very small follower count.
Now, examing a user’s follower count doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t account for engagement (although I’ll investigate that in another post.) It also doesn’t account for how celebrities, like regular people, use these services very differently — some people rarely post, others post every hour, and then there’s Kanye, who posts twenty tweets in a row, and then goes silent for a while. This spreadsheet also won’t be able to highlight the users who are skyrocketing up the list, and the ones who are just sort of sitting there.
But, this is what we’ve got.
Some celebrities appeared on multiple lists, so I marked them as such. I didn’t include business accounts like @CNN or celebrities who have passed away (like Michael Jackson, who still has a massive Facebook following.)
Anyway, here it is:
LinkedIn has some impressive names. They’re considerably older, which I like. Social media can be such an echo chamber for 20, 30, and 40 year olds, so it’s cool to have a service like LinkedIn where people like Bill Gates and Jack Welch are dropping knowledge on the rest of the world. You’ll notice that their total follower count is much lower than the other networks. LinkedIn introduced their Influencer platform in late 2012, so it’s still growing.
Facebook’s list may deserve an asterisk, because I think it’s affected by how Facebook users used to include, say, Eminem as a favorite musician, when Facebook asked users to share their favorite things in their profile. As Facebook’s platform has evolved, if you liked Eminem’s page five years ago, now you follow him. So, it’s hard to say how many of these likes were intentional. Regardless, many of these celebrities aren’t taking advantage of their massive (unearned?) Facebook followings.
Twitter looks more current than Facebook. It was launched only two years later, but glancing through the names, it feels significantly more relevant. Go on Google News and search “Twitter” and you’ll see recent accounts of news happening directly on the service. You can’t say the same for Facebook.
Instagram, the network I consider to inspire the most vanity, coincidentally has the most Kardashian-Jenners on it — five, to be exact. Six if you count Kanye. Females have more power on Instagram — 75% of the top twenty most-followed Instagrammers are female, compared to only 20% of the top twenty most-followed LinkedIn Influencers.
Vine is notable because they don’t have anybody who is in the top 20 on any of these other services. All of their stars basically originated on Vine. While networks want celebrities, I think Vine’s homegrown approach is admirable — they’ve given aspiring creators creation tools and a distribution channel to put themselves on the map, and there’s been a big crop of creators who started on Vine and have branched out elsewhere. So, Vine is doing something right.
I’ll post an updated version of this spreadsheet in a year so we’ll be able to see how the lists have changed — which names have risen up, and which names have fallen off. The columns themselves may change, too — there seem to be a few years between each major network, so we may be due for another soon…