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Twitter Power Users Solidify Dominance

Popularity feeds itself

September 19, 2009

The population of US Twitter users will grow 200% in 2009, according to eMarketer estimates, with growth slowing to a still-impressive 44.4% in 2010. But breaking in as a power user may be difficult. Research from Rapleaf shows a virtuous cycle may exist, making popular users ever more popular.

Will steep adoption rates and new appeal to younger demographics break the cycle and democratize follower metrics—or will new users simply form the next batch of disciples for today’s biggest microbloggers?

Rapleaf analyzed the Twitter profiles on a word-of-mouth marketing list from a major consumer packaged goods firm. The magnitude of changes between March and June 2009 is an indication of how users follow, and get followed, on Twitter.

Users in the top 0.1% of the group—those with the most followers to begin with—increased their average follower count by 275% from March to June. Those in the top 1% saw their average followers rise by 146% over the period, while the top 10% of users grew followers by 126%. The more followers users started with, the faster their gains.

Follower Metrics for Top Twitter Users Worldwide, March-June 2009 (% change)

Looking at the median number of followers, to eliminate outliers, the effect was less pronounced but the same. The most popular users attracted 78% more followers between March and June, while the next group gained 65% and the last group, the top 10% of users, increased their follower count by only 59%.

Popularity feeds popularity, and that can make it difficult for newer users to break in to the upper echelons of Twitter fame. In fact, it has become increasingly difficult over time. In March, just 32 followers were needed for a member of the Rapleaf sample to qualify for a spot in the top 10%; by June, that figure had more than doubled to 67.

The bar is rising for the top 1% and 0.1% as well, though not quite as rapidly: by 85% and 70%, respectively.

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Check out today’s other article, “Cost and ROI for Mobile Campaigns.”


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