Friday, March 27, 2009

Narcissists or Communicators?

Holy Moly developed a fun idea, determining how narcissistic celebrity twitter users are. The simple formula is this: 100-(100 divided by f1 multiplied by f2)=tool percentage when: f1=followers f2=following (for details on calculations see here). The most narcissistic are: 1. Russell Brand (quel surprise!) 2. Katy Perry 3. Lily Allen 4. Ashton Kutcher 5. Chris Moyles. Which made me wonder, what about those Twittering MPs? I looked only at MPs, and those who had tweeted more than 20 times, the rest may not have any real following or had just joined so a little unfair either way. What is interesting is the gap between the number of followers and those they choose to follow. So who is the most narcissistic MP?

Surprisingly, or maybe not, it is John Prescott, he follows only 36 users but 2,125 follow him (not sure which part of this surprised me most). Second, and this did surprise me, is Tom Watson the MP famous for leading the way in blogging; he follows 948, pretty respectable, but is followed by 2,802. Then it is George Galloway who follows only 2 but is followed by the wonderful symmetrical number of 1111 people. Then there is David Lammy (131 to 1211) and Lynne Featherstone (142 to 991); she leads a pack of many around the 7-800 differential mark. Hats off to the least narcissistic MP who is Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer who follows 193 and has 167 followers so a negative differential.

So looks negative, but I thought about this. Can you imagine your Twitter home page, or the various columns in Tweetdeck etc if you chose to follow around 2,000 people. If you are getting updates to a Blackberry there would be a permanent state of vibrating alerts. I only have 131 people to follow and that is unmanageable after a day away from a PC and so I miss out on a lot of both trivial and important tweets. So maybe there is a logic. More importantly also is whether Twitter can actually be used to build relationships as Holy Moly suggests in that article. Interact or 'don't bother' is maybe not the right option. Clearly you can maintain communication via Twitter but only if the list of those you follow is manageable so perhaps Watson's approach is best, he follows a lot of people but there are also about half he does not. One does wonder about Galloway or those who follow no-one - see Tweetminster as that is where the data came from. But this is not condemnation but observation, you can join the dots!

By the way, when I asked a colleague who the most narcissistic Twitter was, he suggested Derek Draper, wrong, his technique of following a lot of people to get them following him shows very little differential in reality.

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