Tuesday, November 03, 2009

popularity(Belfast)=5; influence(Belfast)=2!

As well as chairing the Digital Circle group and being mistaken for the Mayor of Holywood, Davy Sims writes a weekly Watching the Web column in the Belfast Telegraph, bring social media and digital content to a wider audience. This week’s piece looks at the (highly unscientific) measures of influence and popularity on Twitter.

WeFollow - Belfast - influential

WeFollow rank Twitter users by tags and profile information.

Popularity is easy, since the number of followers someone has is a statistic that Twitter measures quite accurately.

In terms of raw popularity, and ignoring organisational Twitter accounts and ones that aren’t real people, the people tagged with Belfast and with the most followers are: (1) @EamonnHolmes, (2) @icedcoffee, (3) @leelowe, (4) @stuartgibson, (5) @alaninbelfast

Of course, by weeding out and blocking the spam followers and those not wearing sufficient clothes in their avatar pictures, popularity decreases! But I’m sure quality beats quantity.

Influence is more difficult to understand. WeFollow have a hidden algorithm that takes account of popularity, but also looks at the network of followers, preferring users who have tagged themselves on WeFollow and are followed by people who share the same tags.

In this great game of taxonomy meets art, Davy lists WeFollow’s top five influential accounts in Belfast: (1) @nomoreart, (2) @alaninbelfast, (3) @icedcoffee, (4) @stuartgibson, (5) @escapeact

The point of this post is to draw attention to Davy’s final paragraph.

“What is interesting though is that all of these people know each other (with the probable exclusion of Eamonn who we all know, but I don't know how many he knows). They talk to each other and meet up at events like Open Coffee and BarCamps. I would wager that most of the people on your Friends Lists on Twitter, Facebook and so on are actual, real, non-cyberworld friends. I shake my head and wonder at the narrowness of those who criticise people - particularly young people - for spending so much time on social media. The internet does not replace real life, it affirms and extends it.”

Other than @escapeact (a band who describe themselves as “lush, upbeat alternative pop from Belfast”), I know every on the top five popularity and influence lists, and would be able to recognise them on the street and have a conversation. Virtual relationships, that spread into real life. Perhaps we should all gang up and visit Eamonn when he’s next across to film The Friday Show!

And to set the record straight, I don’t think I’m terribly influential.


davy sims said...

You don't know Richard Dale? I shall introduce you. And you might be surprised how influential you are ...

davy sims said...

P.S. Just noticed the "bizarre" tag - excellent.

Alan in Belfast said...

For a while I tried to keep the tags quite tight: a lot of posts ended up either under "rant" or "bizarre"