I was preparing for updated social media presentations and updated my video of top 10 Twitter accounts by followers. This is the video created for my presentation. Enjoy!

The top 10 as of May 22, 2013 were:

  1. Justin Bieber (@justinbieber)
    39.5 Million
  2. Lady Gaga (@ladygaga)
    37.5 Million
  3. Katy Perry (@katyperry)
    36.8 Million
  4. Barack Obama (@BarackObama)
    31.8 Million
  5. Rihanna (@rihanna)
    29.7 Million
  6. YouTube (@YouTube)
    28.1 Million
  7. Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13)
    28.1 Million
  8. Britney Spears (@britneyspears)
    27.2 Million
  9. Shakira (@shakira)
    20.7 Million
  10. Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake)
    20.5 million

58 Comments
  1. Thanks! The Zeigarnik Effect’s been tinkering in my head the past few days. For some reason I thought Rihanna had the most followers but I kept forgetting to go check it out. Thanks for clearing that up! Turns out she’s not has high up there as I thought she was.

  2. It’s so mind blowing how these people can get so many followers! So many individual minds all following one celebrity. I’m honestly surprised how Justin Bieber is number one. Shakira is also pretty surprising. Other than that, no one else seems to surprise me.

    • I actually expected Bieber to have a larger lead over the others, since when I think “twitter” I mostly think of teenagers, specifically girls.

    • I was also suprised by Shakira being there, but she was also in the Facebook top 10 as well! She must be incredibly popular in Spanish speaking countries. I just took a look and she is no longer in the current Top 10, Instagram has replaced her and Justin Timberlake has gone 9th.

  3. PSY won Justin in YouTube views but still he is #1 in twitter with the top number of followers, more than Obama or twitter itself. But people say, some of the accounts following him are fake, are they? I would be more than happy to see Rihanna and Taylor swift in the top 3.

    • Yes, there are millions of fake twitter accounts. I read that Barack Obama has 19.5 million fake twitter followers according to several estimates. Why are you happy to see Rihanna and Taylor Swift in the top 3? Neither is that talented and both rely on very expensive and talented music producers. I am surprised that either is in the top ten to start with.

  4. I must say a congratulations to YouTube for pulling this one out of the hat. Basically a whole lot of famous people in the top 10 and then YouTube. I mean it is crazy that 28.1 million people want to follow an entity, following a celebrity is ‘OK’ at least it is an actual person. Any way big ups to YouTube, congratulations.
    I must say I would prefer to see Taylor Swift or Rihanna up top instead of Justin but nothing we can change there.

    • Well YouTube has become a phenomenon for everyone. It has changed the way we all can find entertainment and get educated on the internet through video media. Despite changing immensely over the years, they’ve managed to keep their stronghold onto the public and mostly because, well, YouTube doesn’t really have any direct competition in my view. I also agree that Rihanna should take over the top spot, but I’ll be realistic and say it likely won’t happen.

  5. It’s no surprise that artists are the most followed on Twitter! A personal touch always makes a difference! It’s also one of the best ways for a celebrity to stay in touch with their fans.
    This is different from a company brand whose site is probably managed by a social media coordinator. It’s interested to see this list and compare it to the Facebook List! You can definitely compare how each site should be managed to engage with your followers.

    • I think that you are correct in stating that an artist is much more of a personal follow than a business or brand. I don’t identify with businesses but I do feel strongly tied to certain artists. It is a good explanation as to why the businesses and brand lag behind artists in followers. I can’t even think of a brand or business that I actually do follow on twitter. I’ve seen their tweets but never subscribed.

  6. Eight out of ten are musical artists and it doesn’t surprise me. Even my teens are following their favorite artists on twitter. It’s their way of staying in touch with what’s happening with the bands and singers they enjoy listening to. They get the latest updates on new music and tours. Good business sense!

  7. As Justin Bieber gets older, it seems he’s losing fans. He’s no longer the cute kid he once was. He’s turned into an arrogant, unlikable young man. I’m surprised Britney Spears is still up there. She hasn’t released anything of relevance in years, aside from a song or two.

    • I agree with you Justin beiber has changed a lot from the time he started, he is very arrogant.

    • He’s also starting to feel the pressures of his fame these days. Did you see him snap at the paparazzi? It’s on Youtube. I think it’s not going to make a dent on his popularity since he’s also very active on twitter. I’m just waiting for him to go pull a Miley Cyrus (do something really outrageous) and that would still give him more followers.

  8. Seems like Justin Beibers would be a little higher than it is. I expected him to have at least 100 million followers at the least.

  9. I bet Justin Bieber won’t be hailed king of Twitter for long, after all those new controversies and bad publicity there’s no other way but down. Or maybe I’m wrong, controversies do fuel the twitterlandia for more hot twit gossips and bad publicity is still publicity after all. Well, i guess Bieber’s not going anywhere.

  10. did not realize justin beiber was that popular
    …. awkotaco

  11. I really don’t understand why Justin Bieber has the most followers. The are so many more brilliant artists and people out there in the world other than him. He even got booed at the billboard music awards yet he’s still number one. Don’t get me wrong he does make some good music but the girls just go blind by the true talent in the world out there.

  12. As the facebook list Twitter also has its majority of top fanpages directed into the media/entertainment industry almost exclusively, I would blame that to the fact of Twitters very basic and limited interaction methodics. It can become very difficult for marketers to promote their products if all they can do is type a few words and/or add a simple image to the “TWEET”.

    • I disagree, by the very nature of marketing a good brand should be able to capture what they are about in a few short words. Some of my favorite people to follow on Twitter are brands that market themselves well and add personal touches to their tweets.

    • I love that about Twitter though, compared to Facebook. You have to condense what you share so it gets to the point without much distractions. For marketers, I’ll give them brownie points if they get noticed in Twitter due to the very nature of it that you pointed out.

  13. I’m really surprised by this list, but I can understand why these people are popular on twitter. I would have expected someone like @zaibatsu or the likes topping the twitter list. Interesting post!

  14. I’m surprised to see Katy Perry at number three, and Justin Bieber at number one. I would have thought Taylor Swift would have been higher than seven.

  15. As others have mentioned, I guess it comes to no surprise that over half these people are music artist. People love to follow there idols, and see where they are going, or where they are at the current moment. I read an article about a week ago, where a girl went to a braves game, and was shocked that she was sitting next to Justin Bieber.

  16. The fact that Justin Bieber has more followers than the President of the United States is a tad concerning. Also sad.

    • I agree with cellphonehippie. It’s usually the younger demographic that seem to use Twitter so in a way,it’s understandable that many young teens are following him. If you do look at the top 10, you can notice that most of them appeal to the teen demographic and have mass appeal thus no surprise there really. I did expect Rihanna to be higher too but it’s nice to see Taylor Swift and Britney Spears in the top 10.

  17. It disappoints me that someone with as much political power as Obama has fewer followers than Bieber. I was surprised by Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears too, but even more so by Shakira – but I guess she was in the Facebook top 10 as well, so she must still be doing well for herself…

  18. I’ve never really gotten into Twitter and I think for good reason. Aside from the few good accounts out there (one of them being 50 cent, one of the few artists that actually posts his own tweets), there really isn’t anything out there. Some of my friends would approach me asking if I had a Twitter account. When I told them I didn’t they would tell me to make one and to follow them. It just seems like a pyramid scheme type operation where credibility is measured in followers.

    • I agree with you. Facebook is used mostly for business these days and they say that if you don’t have a Facebook account for your business then you aren’t moving in the right direction. Whereas Twitter is easier to use for those looking for a quick, personal connection.

      I have followed businesses on Twitter that have achieved a connection with me simply because of how a direct connection can be made.

    • Sorry about that, my previous reply somehow copied an earlier reply to someone else.

      I like Twitter because it gives me a quick, personal glimpse into those people’s lives around me. Perhaps if you are looking for a personal connection to celebrities it might not be the place to go, but if you are looking for a connection with other businesses, friends, family, your favorite bloggers, etc. it’s a great place to be.

  19. I can’t say that I’m surprised, but it still amazes me how many people have jumped aboard the Twitter train. They have completely accepted/adapted to this media form in numbers that I find astonishing. Kudos to Twitter for bringing this to the massses.

  20. We should probably ask what conclusions can we draw from this? The first one is: boy does it feel good to be a pop singer, eh?! I’m also surprised that Obama is so high-up on the list. Imagine if Twitter was around for Reagan or Clinton; would they have the same strength of popularity that Obama has? Bill has an account now and he has about 927K followers. Even though Clinton was a popular president, I’m not sure he would’ve fully reached the demographics that encompass most of Twitter. Probably why George Bush stays away from the social community. (Note: all of this is based more on opinion, obviously.)

    • I think it’s more about the way this generation was brought up in social media. As for those pop stars, they love interacting with their fans. A generation or so ago, people all over the world didn’t think they could communicate with their idols on a regular basis. Now they can and those twitter numbers reflect that.

    • I was surprised that Obama was that high up, as well. Only because Twitter is worldwide and Obama is a national figure in the US. I wouldn’t have figured that he would be as popular as the other celebrities listed. It would have been interesting to see what other presidents’ popularity looked like in the Twitter era.

  21. Unfortunately, a whole lot of “followers” are fake. There have been news articles about how a ton of Bieber’s followers are fake accounts, as well as followers for Obama and the Whitehouse.

    I think this is something to be expected. It’s just more marketing hype for these people. I believe they all do it. In fact, you can go on Fiverr and purchase millions of Likes/Followers for your own Facebook or Twitter pages.

    It’s the way things are these days. It’s all gift wrapping. It’s better to open the box and decide for yourself on the value of the contents.

    • I’ve also seen people sell twitter accounts at digital point – “twitter with 40k followers for sale”. I guess it could be possible that the followers are fake.

  22. Here too are the accounts of musicians the dominating ones. Is there any way t explain why there are no actors, no sportsmen, no sportsclubs?

    It’s also very interesting how popular the Twitter account of Barack Obama is. Could you imagine any other president the people wanna follow as much as him?

  23. I’ve noticed that Rihanna and Shakira are present in both the Twitter top 10 and the Facebook top 10! I am a little surprised that Justin Bieber has so many Twitter fans! OMG and look how many fans Britney Spears still has! These top 10’s are usually a mind blower and this one makes no exception!

  24. Britney Spears??? Even in her heyday I never thought she had that many fans. I honestly think that she’s the odd man out (or shall I say woman) in that list. If the figures in that list are true, I’d expect her to be bigger than Michael Jackson.

  25. Britney Spears of course! She has been in american pop culture ever since she was a kid. Countless young and older women identify with Britney and her music. Sure, she had ups and downs, like anyone, but she has managed to gather a lot of loyal fans.

    I never used twitter. I don’t really get it yet. Following artist’s and other stars seems like disempowerment to me. I guess I will find a use for it at some point… Going for the top ten as soon as this happens. 😉

  26. I am actually surprised to see Obama up there. It’s a list full of mediocre pop music talent, some of who owe their popularity to their PR machines and a medium like twitter suits that. I wouldn’t expect Obama, as popular as he is in real life, to be popular on a twitter like medium to the extent that he is.

    • Yes, some of the popularity of these artists with millions of Twitter followers is directly attributable to PR and marketing efforts.

      I personally witnessed that happening with Lady Gaga’s rise to fame a few years ago with her debut album and all the hit singles it spawned. At the time I was working with a network of entertainment sites and I began receiving numerous personally sent emails from a publicist working on behalf of Lady Gaga asking me to post her videos, pictures, etc. These were not mass mailings of press releases; they were personally sent to me by this particular publicist.

      I though to myself, Lady Gaga is popular already. So why am I getting these kinds of emails that publicists usually send on behalf of up-and-coming artists who are looking for a break?

      Well, of course, that’s just it — a massive PR effort. I later read about the vast extent of PR and marketing that was done on her behalf.

      • That is quite the interesting anecdote that you provide about Lady Gaga. She is really over-marketed in my opinion. I am so sick of hearing her music in public venues like sporting events, bars and shopping malls. I am not sure who her fan base really is. Is it teenage girls? Or is it young adults who like dance music? The entire lady gaga persona just confuses me. I don’t know if she would be anywhere near as popular if she didn’t have that gigantic marketing campaign behind her.

  27. This list is quite interesting Justin Bieber tops the most followers list again. I wonder how many of the followers of any account are fake I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the people on the list had bought followers.

  28. It’s still so sad that people like Justin Bieber still has the highest number of followers on twitter and others like Tesla only have a few 100K.

    Hopefully in the coming years his hype will die down and we could have some normal people up there.

    • Don’t count on it. A big chunk of twitter users are teenagers and adolescents. That means that pop stars, especially teenie booper pop stars will dominate the rankings. It’s only going to get worse. The good thing is that we don’t have to follow the sheep and read those pop star tweets.

  29. Its not surprising at all I could of guessed all of the most followed accounts on twitter and I don’t even own a account on that social networking site. Its pretty easy to guess that Justin Drew Bieber was gonna have the most followers because twitter is mostly full of teenage girls and guys that are dying to get their favorite celebrity to follow them.

  30. Crazy to think that Justin Bieber has more followers than Barack Obama. I guess some people just don’t like him that much. Can’t really believe Justin Bieber has 40 million followers, it’s pretty insane to imagine all of those people listening to what you say on a site.

    • Ha. He does not have forty million followers. A lot are fake. This is one of the problems that twitter is encountering with their IPO offering. Nobody knows how to value the company because so many of the accounts are fake.

  31. I already knew aout Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga being the most followed people on Twitter but it was surprising seeing Justin Timberlake at #10 with 20 million followers. If I recall not too long ago back in Janurary he only had like 5 million followers. I guess his latest album really did help him get back in the spotlight.

    • I actually anticipated Justin Timberlake being higher on the list. He is a talented musician who sings in a variety of music genres. He is on Juicy J’s new album, Stay Trippy. He does R&B and he has his boy band history. When you consider his sex appeal you would think that he would be on of the top twitter personalities.

  32. Sigh. The president of the US has less followers than entertainers. That really does speak volumes about our society. I also don’t understand how Shakira has more followers than Justin Timberlake. The world is a strange place.

  33. I guess you can say the Twitter world is dominated by pop stars. I don’t use twitter myself, and this is one of the reasons why. I wonder if Barack Obama is really tweeting on twitter or is it one of his aides?

    • It is one of his aides I would assume. He might give general directions to the aide as to what to say. Maybe he e-mails the tweet framework to one of the aids and the aide actually types it in and tweets it for him. You can use twitter and avoid all the pop stars. Just don’t follow them.

  34. Thanks for the information but that is also incredibly depressing to read. Still, is anyone surprised that these musicians and actors are the most popular people on twitter? I thought there would be an athlete in the top 5.

    Am I the only one who reads twitter on a CPU? It seems like it. At first I didn’t “get” twitter at all. I’ve warmed up to it since it debut in the mid 2000’s but still find most of it to be pointless celebrity worship.

  35. Aha! So, Katy Perry is more popular than he president. I was right! Well, at least she is more popular on Twitter. I have a friend who is going to be very upset to hear that they owe me five dollars now. Thank you for sharing this with us! I am actually following several of these people personally.

  36. It’s crazy how many people can “follow” celebrities just by clicking a button. Why do you want to know every little thing that’s happening to a specific person? If I had a large following, I would NOT have a Twitter or Facebook. It’s nice to have privacy!

    • I feel exactly the same way. But these celebrities are trying to build and maintain their brand. That means constant exposure. They better not go overboard with their complaining about the paparazzi if they have twitter accounts. They are so hypocritical sometimes. If I was a celebrity, I would be like you and not have a twitter account nor a facebook. What happened to privacy?

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