In the age of the Verified Account, we expect our celebrities and media personalities to be on Twitter. It’s not only the quickest and easiest way for them to reach their audiences, but sometimes it provides us a small window into the minutiae of their everyday lives. “Famous people, they’re just like us!” we like to think when Martha Stewart‘s dog pees in the house or Oprah says she’s tired. But that’s not why it’s a category on our Power Grid.
There’s also business. We know who’s going to be on television and when, we click links and witness debate — all in 140 characters, of course. Disparate uses of the service are to be expected; new media must be tried, twisted and broken before its function is decided and opinions vary as much as usage. Maybe to you, Shaq‘s frequent inanities are hilarious or maybe they’re a waste of time. Maybe Ana Marie Cox‘s links are educational or maybe they’re boring. But to make that judgement, thousands — and in some cases millions! — are pressing “follow.”
Twitter followers are a whole new metric of popularity: communication sans middleman with as many people as you can get to click. The directness it affords and the loyalty it indicates are just two of the reasons Mediaite includes followers as a field in our Power Grid rankings of over 1,500 media players. Followers tends to be demonstrative not only of reach and influence, but of good will.
So we’ve tallied and ranked the top 25 media figures by approximate number of Twitter followers (they go up every few seconds!) and the results, if not surprising, are telling. America’s biggest stars — many of which have impersonal, almost robotic feeds likely ghostwritten by publicists — are interspersed with internet veterans who have massive online followings, even if they lack household names.
Before we get to the list, though, some interesting observations:
- Six of the top 10 spots are occupied by television hosts with international appeal. Their feeds tend to be general and highly promotional, but their fame is immeasurable.
- For the others who managed to sneak into the top 10, two are online behemoths, one was almost president and the last invented Twitter.
- Television hosts occupy a big chunk of the entire top 25, but seem almost entirely ghostwritten, while reporters and bloggers who handle their own feeds are more rare, but more invested in the service. They are also more likely to get personal.
- Only 7 women make the list, but they’re all in the top 15 and include the proto-mommy blogger and original Wonkette.
- Fixtures of the right are nearly absent, with only one notable Republican making the top 25. Someone get Coulter, McCain and Malkin on their Twitter games!
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