Lady Gaga led the race to amass Twitter followers for a long time, with Justin Bieber a close second, but Twitter follower rankings can and often do change in an instant. Gaga and Bieber, for example, flipped places in January 2013, when Bieber became the most followed celebrity on Twitter. Katy Perry then edged ahead of Gaga to claim the most-followed woman honors just six months later.
So how does anyone figure out who, exactly, has the most followers on Twitter? It's not as if Twitter publishes a "most followers" page that is constantly updated.
But plenty of third-party companies do. And news services study the data tracked by third-party companies that are plugged into the public data feed Twitter offers to compile stories and lists about what the data shows.
Here are two popular services that track Twitter followers to see who's following whom, and to compile rankings based on Twitter follower numbers.
Most Twitter Followers Lists
- TwitterCounter.com -- TwitterCounter keeps up-to-date lists of the top 100 "most followed" people on Twitter. It also shows how many tweets each top Twitter user has sent.
- Twitaholic.com -- Twitaholic maintains extensive lists of top twitter users, showing who has the most followers in various categories.
Most Followers on Twitter -- or Most Influential?
Not everyone agrees that who has the most followers on Twitter is a useful measure of who's really top dog on Twitter.
Some think it's more important who those Twitter followers are than how many there are. A variety of services have popped up that attempt to measure influence on Twitter by looking at such things as how many times followers have had their own messages retweeted and how many followers they have, too.
In other words, are the followers just passive readers of tweets, or do they participate in the conversation on Twitter?
Influencers on Twitter
Here are some lists and articles about top twitters based on influence, rather than number of followers:
- ABC News took a look at the Klout scores of top celebrities and published the results in the spring of 2013.
- Time magazine compiles an annual list of the best Twitter feeds to follow that isn't based on sheer number of followers. Check out the top Twitter feeds of 2013.
- The Sysomos company analyzed Twitter usage through the lens of its own social media monitoring software to consider "authority rankings" for Twitter followers of various celebrities.
- Gawker.TV some time ago compiled a list of 25 celebrities whose Twitter feeds merit following, and they include quite a few who (including Conan O'Brien) who are not on the list of those with the most followers on Twitter.
- The New York Times Magazine also published a list of the most influential celebrities on Twitter, based on metrics compiled by a social media analytics company called Twitalyzer. It's interesting that the most followed twitterers, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, didn't make this top 10 list of Twitter influencers. Brazilian comedian Rafinha Bastos topped the list, with football wide receiver Chad Ochocino placing No. 2 and Conan O'Brien No. 3.