When I pondered the future of micro-blogging last June, I wasn’t paying much attention to the few celebrities from pop culture and politics using Twitter. Over the last month, the number of celebrities (from pop culture, sports, and politics) who have appeared on the Twitterholic Top 100 jumped from 7% to 46% of users on a given calendar week.
I included users who cover celebrity culture (e.g. @perezhilton) and fake celebrities (e.g. @NotHenryRollins). Given that I quickly perused the list of users, it’s possible that the number of celebrities is slightly higher. TV, Music, and Film celebrities alone accounted for 30% of users on the Twitterholic 100 over the past week.
As to the reasons why celebrities are starting to dominate rankings based on number of followers, the one noteworthy event occurred in mid-January when Twitter began suggesting users to newbies. However, the suggested users feature is not the sole reason for the rise of celebrities: not all of the new celebrity users on the Twitterholic Top 100 have appeared on Twitter’s list of suggested users. In choosing who to follow, I suspect that name recognition matters more to recent groups of new users.
We pointed out in our Micro-messaging report that number of followers is not the best gauge of a twitterer’s influence and we proposed an alternate metric similar to PageRank. But among new users, number of followers is the way they gauge the importance of other twitterers, and by that measure newbies may have the mistaken impression that discussions in Twitter are dominated by famous people. As they soon discover, most celebrities won’t be responding to their tweets.