Content Section

Who’s Following Whom?

Twitter isn’t the only measure of online connectedness—but it’s a useful way to look at who’s paying attention to whom. A visual guide from Michael Keller.

The Newsweek Daily Beast Digital Power Index is broken down into ten categories of ten each, but we also wanted to look at the connections among these influencers. By analyzing who follows (and is followed by) whom on Twitter, we've charted channels of communication and brought out connections across categories.

Of course, not everyone on our list is on Twitter, and sometimes for understandable reasons—Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as you might guess, prefer Google+—but it gives us one perspective on who is paying attention to whom.

The top five most-followed list is dominated by investors and entrepreneurs. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson is No. 1, with 36 followers from the DPI, including Arianna Huffington, Clay Shirky and fellow investors. Shirky, a writer and thought leader, is the second most-followed, with 32. At No. 3 is Twitter co-founder Evan Williams; his fellow co-founder Jack Dorsey is tied for fourth with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. The academic and legal writer Lawrence Lessig rounds out the top five with 26 followers.

The network shows certain strong ties, notably among Virologists (teal), Innovators (yellow), Evangelists (purple) and Personalities (pink). But the network also has its outsiders: Opinionists (green), Navigators (blue), Builders (red), and Revolutionaries (dark green) all have fewer connections to the larger group. Some of these splits make sense—social activists don't have much to do with financial investors, for instance—but we might have expected that those who make policy would be more wired.

Executives are also oddly disconnected from the rest of the group, with the exception of Path founder and CEO Dave Morin, and Zynga founder Marc Pincus. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg may have more than 15 million total subscribers on his Facebook page, but on Twitter he is followed by just six of our top 100. (To be fair, he has more than 164,000 followers overall, despite a grand total of 19 tweets.)

Is anyone on our list completely disconnected—that is, not following or being followed by anyone else on the list? There are a few, and they might surprise you: Apple CEO Tim Cook, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, conservative blog editor Matt Drudge, and design legend Edward Tufte.

Of course, when you play at a high enough level, your Twitter account is nowhere near as powerful as your personal address book.