Derived Statistics

Twitter

In a follow up to this post I thought I’d explain how I obtained the statistics used.

The first indicators were easy to obtain – No Avatar Picture, No Tweets and No Followers and are fairly self explanatory. Obtaining a figure for Inactive Accounts however was a little more difficult. Because Twitter does not return any information (other than a total) for a private accounts tweets, the last_tweet_date was not available for all users. To stop this from skewing the dataset I removed these accounts from the sample size.

  John Key Clare Curran Russel Norman Metiria Turei David Shearer Gareth Hughes
Private Accounts 4269 153 342 284 284 377
Percentage 8.5 6.3 8.7 8.3 8.9 8.9

As you can see the percentage of private accounts is roughly equivalent – and not enough to skew our sample.
This gave me a new followers total to calculate averages for tweet related metrics Inactive Accounts and “Real” Followers

  John Key Clare Curran Russel Norman Metiria Turei David Shearer Gareth Hughes
No Avatar 27% 8% 11% 10% 11% 6%
No Followers 17% 1% 4% 3% 4% 2%
Inactive 39% 17% 20% 19% 14% 14%
‘Real’ 43% 77% 72% 74% 74% 80%

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to interpret accordingly.

NB: These accounts were selected as Leader of the Opposition, Leaders of the Greens, and Clare Curran and Gareth Hughes as they had respectable follower numbers of their own for comparison.

EDIT 18/06/2012

I located a site that can graph followers over time for a Twitter account, sadly the scale of the x-axis is not consistent which tends to cause spikes in growth that wouldn’t normally be visible.

John Key Followers vs Time

As you can see the growth is fairly consistent: the first dip is presumably a statistic gathering error and should be discarded.
As only an idiot would buy followers in large and obviously identifiable quantities (Rudd, Gingrich…Lady Gaga) steady organic looking growth doesn’t mean anything if you’re smart and feed them in gradually. The jump at the end of the graph actually indicates only 375 increased followers a day which could of course easily be attributed to a particularly good press release. (Although I can’t seem to recall any of late) and isn’t a smoking gun by any stretch.

A commenter elsewhere suggested comparing other politicians with 50,000 followers to see how they stack up. Their point may have been purely that we don’t have any…however we do have some celebs and sportspeople who match up. I’ve started the data collection process so we should have some comparisons late today or tomorrow.

UPDATE 21/06/2012 Obtaining additional data for comparison took a lot longer than expected due to unforeseen issues with the Twitter API.

  John Key Piri Weepu Corey Jane John Campbell Rhys Darby Helen Clark
Followers 50,000 50,000 50,000 32,04 88,396 18,392
No Avatar 27% 15% 20% 15% 14% 11%
No Followers 17% 10% 14% 8% 6% 4%
Inactive 39% 12% 22% 2% 22% 12%
‘Real’ 43% 67% 56% 67% 64% 79%

Interesting to see how ‘active’ @johnjcampbell‘s followers are, and that Piri and Corey’s followers are so different given that you would expect them to be followed by similar accounts.

Update 31/07/2012
There has been an application released that people can use to analyse their own accounts called Status People

The tool largely mirrors my own assumptions and subsequent results, but is much more user friendly than the tools I created for my own use.

More discussion in and around the subject is available in this National Business Review article

8 thoughts on “Derived Statistics”

  1. I found a couple of applications to plot followers over time, and many that would plot your own account (as opposed to someone elses)
    http://tweet.grader.com is great because you don’t have to be the account you are querying. Sadly they can’t track every account so it appears only high profile or selected accounts are there (from what I saw anyway)
    http://twittercounter.com/ was also quite good but in the free version you can only view 6 months of historical data, and only 6 months after ‘paying with a tweet’

  2. Its taking a while to collect data for other larger (non political) accounts for comparison. Due to rate limiting requests via the Twitter API it takes about 4 hours to query 50,000 accounts.

    It is also quite hard to find NZ Twitter accounts that actually have 50k followers…

  3. Statistical probability that Mitt Romney’s Twitter followers are just normal users: 0%

    Last week Zach Green of 140Elect, noticed some strange goings-on with Mitt Romney’s Twitter account (@MittRomney). Romney’s account, which had been averaging around 2,000 to 5,000 new followers a day, gained 141,000 followers in two days.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/statistical-probability-that-mitt-romneys-new-twitter-followers-are-just-normal-users-0/260539/

  4. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment
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    Regards,
    Sam

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