Mar 192009

Complexity iPhone Camerakit App 22Ever since I joined Twitter (GaryPHayes) I have been fascinated by the subtle ‘etiquette’ of being followed, following and timely updates (as well as the enormous growth and creative potential twitter now affords). It is also interesting watching those traditional media brands and celebrities with a non-twitter and web 2.0 online reputation enter into the fray. What effect do they have? Do they corrupt this young new channel before it has found it’s own feet or is the invasion of old brands and celebs part of its maturation?

Laurel Papworth has far more in-depth coverage of this movement and etiquette across many and various posts on her main blog here but one thing became evident to me as traditional media and celebrities started to ‘infiltate’ Twitter – the instant emergence of old world, short head, long tail distribution. Those brands (individual and companies) already popular in other media on setting up in twitterville started to gain followers like magnets, they swarmed to them – in many cases regardless of what they were tweeting (film and pop stars particularly). We also see old form media channels such as news updates, emerging as useful ‘feeds’ and gaining instant popularity too. Merging with all these are the new stars, traditional bloggers find the transition to micro-blogging easy and so on and so on…

As Twitter has an open API the stats are relatively easy to pull out and there are quite a few sites that do much better analysis than mine below such as TwitterFacts blog, Damon Cortesi and TweetStats. For my little effort below thanks to Twitterholic and its dynamically updated top 1000 (based on followers), I was able to do a quick big picture overview – data taken on the 17 March 2009 !. Before we dig down into the charts themselves a quick high level stat on the Top 1000 tweeters

The top 1000 tweeters have generated 3.45 million tweets and are following 12 million but being followed by 35 million. (note: followers and followings are of course not unique, but the updates/tweets are)

The first chart is what I simply call the  Twitter Long Tail. Starting at the far left with top tweeters CNN Breaking News and Barack Obama at 543k and 486k respectively we move across to the 1000th top tweeter in the world Brad Will with just under 8k followers. I have highlighted a few random tweeters in-between for reference – key thing to note of course is the obvious almost perfect Long Tail shape (I would imagine over time this would smoothe even more – we are still early days)


The highlighted selection here include world renowned bloggers Robert Scoble and Darren Rowse (problogger), passionate artistes Imogen Heap and Stephen Fry, TV getting in on the act Ellen Show and Letterman plus trad media and social media folk. It is interesting for example that The Ellen Show Twitter ID appeared on the 16 March and generated around 200 000 followers off the back of one show – sadly there were only a handful of updates and virtually no following back, a poor user experience – traditional media really needs to make sure it doesn’t corrupt these ‘delicate’ new media channels as it so often does and then tells everyone they don’t really work!

While we are on the global view worth noting that adding all the followers up (thats means each persons follower amount) we end up with 35 million (remember that will contain many duplicates). The point though is to demonstrate the short head’ness here where followers are effectively a ‘rating’ (abstract) of popularity.

Of that 35 million totalled followers

  • 55% are in the top 100
  • 67% are in the top 200 and
  • 85% are in the top 500

To demonstrate this rather spookily smoothe long tail curve I removed the top 50 (that have rather exponentially big figures) and looked at the top 50-500. I started to think also here about the number of updates – do updates bring in followers or is it all about pre-twitter trust and reputation – of course its a to be calculated mix of the two of them – but look below at updates and position…
I went further down this road and looked at the top 100 and their update distribution – the spikes are named. Fascinating again to see that updates do not equal popularity (OK that’s obvious and I will stop labouring that one) but there is a significant high amount of updates going on the in 13-30 areas – remember though we are looking at the creme-de-la-creme of tweeters here and might be too ‘zoomed in’ for meaningful insight?


If your still with me, for reference, here is a quick snapshot of the top 50 World tweeps based purely on following (now you can go and follow them all!). As I keep saying this is not the whole story as we can see – for example CNN following 1 person (is pure broadcast) and Al Gore with only 14 updates (is pure pre-twitter reputation – or 14 amazing world shattering tweets?! – I will go with the former). Of course automated tweeting is rife and there are many in the top thousand who have or are resorting to bots to send messages in their ‘down time’. More after the list…

Some time ago I thought a twitter quotient that took into account updates/followings too is important and the chart below is the same top 1000 tweeters now ordered by a Gary algorithm (made famous on Twitter Agency and Laurel’s post of Australian Journalists on twitter), which changes the landscape significantly. Reproduced from my little contribution to twitter agency here.

Here is a little formula I just cooked up called the Tweet-GQ (Tweet Gary Quotient) that works out a Twitter rating. To be considered as a valuable system to be used on top 100s etc. Before I go into explanation, here is the secret formula

( ((Following/3)+Followers) x (Followers/Updates) ) / 10

This takes into account the raw numbers of followers weighted over following. More importantly it then has an critical multiplier – that of how many updates you do in relation to the followers you generate. So simply, it rewards high numbers of followers but also takes into account how many tweets or updates it took you to get that many followers.

To do this yourself without needing a degree in pure math (or an online calculator – to be done by someone). Here is a simple 3 step DIY version.

  1. Divide followings by 3 and then add this to followers – write the number down
  2. Divide followers by updates – write the number down
  3. Multiply the two numbers above and divide by ten – et voila. Your very own TweetGQ


Finally and while I am on this twitter topic heres a lovely mosaic of 360 out of my current 1300 followers…seems so insignificant now 🙂 But this shows off the power of open API – each of the faces are clickable and therefore followable – is that a word. Bye for now, see you in the twitterverse.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

Dec 112005

Joshua ©Gary Hayes 2005I often refer in my presentations to Akimbo back in May starting to deliver vlogs (videoblogs) via its IPTV service in the US. It is pretty revolutionary that alongside and at the same level on the EPG as CNN, The History Channel, BBC , Cartoon Network and Turner Movies we get personalized stories from individuals. Check out the recent additions on MyAkimbo.

It comes as some surprise then that TiVo, regarded as the granddaddy of the Personal TV Recorder are starting this week to trial the Rocketboom service. Rocketboom is described on the TiVo research site as

Rocketboom is a three minute daily videoblog based in New York City, covering a wide range of information and commentary from top news stories to quirky internet culture. With a heavy emphasis on international arts, technology and weblog drama, Rocketboom is presented via online video and widely distributed through RSS. Now, Rocketboom is available on TiVo as part of the TiVo Video Download Trial.

There is a polished feel to some of the vlogs posted on Rocketboom, and it sits somewhere between professional vox pops and citizen journalism with an element of ‘reality-driven’ drama. There is also the likeable (albeit US centric) charisma from the likes of Steve Garfield in Boston or Annie in LA that make this kind of vlogging very accessible to mass audiences. The frozen pizza cooking story from Annie would not appear on network TV, for example! Yet we also have the likes of Zach Braff of Garden State fame doing the vlog thing too – directors who like to keep it real, are. So perhaps the likes of TiVo and Akimbo allowing this kind of videojournalism to exist alongside the mainstay of network TV is a significant shift in consumer demand. After all UGC (user generated content) is all about real life (most of the time) rather than artificially scripted and reconstructed versions of it we get on mainstream TV – which is now becoming rather tired after 50 years of structure, reality TV can only go part of the way to reflect the real world. It is the real world that can only do this, not execs trapped in network TV politics.

There are a range of ‘enabler’ vlogging sites springing up that realise the potential to draw in audiences once lively, bright talent gets hold of DV cameras and starts creating real life narrative. Freevlog is one of the leaders at the moment – allowing normal people to tell their stories. The audiences for these stories is increasing as dramatically as the readers of normal ‘text’ blogs – so much so that it does beg the question when will TV ratings start to ‘really’ suffer due to this left field competition. Some say that has already started to happen but I feel it will be a slow erosion of the aggregators of professional storytelling content.

I for one appreciate more and more the honesty of people reflecting their lives, the social documentary, the personalized view of reality. Traditional journalism is being eroded by millions having access to the technology to capture what is happening (advances in mobile phone video particularly) and even more the ability to professionally edit then publish – outside the past of entrenched scarcity of traditional broadcast channels.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005