Before the Internet, editors compiled power lists using a complex system of favor-trading and slow-news-cycle holidays. Now, it's done by algorithm! Anyone can indulge their narcissism and quantify their own "influence." But only one can be on top. Or several.
What's true for the Internet is true for Twitter: on the Internet, you can make your voice heard, if not necessarily listened to. Are men listened to more than women, as is often the case in previous public discourse? It depends which evidence you choose to read.
According to a recent study by Brian Solis, Klout, and PeopleBrowsr, which looked at the 50,000 most influential Twitter users (using Klout's algorithm), the difference between male and female users' influence was not sweeping:
While women represent a greater portion of the overall Twitter population, men edged slightly ahead in terms of Twitter's top influencers. Yet that power balance shifts when looking at influence across the entire Twitterverse as women hold a higher level of influence within the general Twitter population.
Recently, Twitter Grader helpfully compiled a list of the top 100 female users. Sitting at the very top: a conservative woman named Jan Simpson.
She has 78,153 followers, though she follows even more than that. She tweets aggressively and sociably. Although her profile lists "Operation Rescue," the rabidly anti-abortion group, Simpson's most recent tweets have focused on animal rights and Florida politics. Also, she doesn't seem too impressed by Sarah Palin. She contains multitudes.
Why did they have a separate list of female users and not one of men? Probably because the overall top 100 was a mix of institutional accounts (with Fox News at the top) and individual dudes. Simpson only clocks in at #25 on that one.
An HP study released earlier this month defined influence as getting people to actively participate, not just having lots of followers. When put that way, here were the most influential users:
@mashable, @jokoanwar, @google, @aplusk, @syfy, @smashingmag, @michellemalkin, @theonion, @rww, @breakingnews
Plenty of these are aimed at the tech-savvy (or tech-curious) — Smashing Mag, Mashable, and RWW (Read Write Web), Google. The Onion, Breaking News, and Syfy are pretty obvious. Joko Anwar is an Indonesian filmmaker who clearly has figured out this social media thing.
And then there's the only woman on that list: Michelle Malkin. Does she need an introduction? If so, here's a recent tweet.
Factcheck: the number of vacation days Obama has taken to date is 48 versus Bush's 115. But who needs facts when you can have influence?
The 100 Most Powerful Women On Twitter [TwitterGrader]
What Makes A Tweet Influential? [HP Labs]
Influence Is Bliss: The Gender Divide Of Influence On Twitter [Brian Solis]