Britain’s most popular Twitterer

We were talking about Twittering at the weekend….. re who did and didn’t do it – it’s a no from me -and found this story in the Telegraph today by Claudine Beaumont and Ian Douglas about Britain’s most popular exponent

Only one other person, President Barack Obama, has a greater number of followers at 225,520. CNN, the american news network, has 124,286.

Fry’s 100,000th follower, Hayley Elliott, has 33 followers herself and follows no one but Fry. He welcomed her to the micro-blogging site with a reply: ‘Hi there Hayley! You are my 100,000th follower! And I’m proud to be your first. Welcome to Twitter xxx’, shortly after exclaiming ‘Holy ARSE. Thank you all xxxxx’. Ms Elliott has yet to post.

At 3.30pm Fry had 100,536 followers.

Fry uses the service to keep fans and followers updated about his travels and latest television projects, as well as his thoughts and views on world events, and the more mundane aspects of daily life.

There was a surge in Twitter traffic after Stephen Fry discussed the service with fellow user Jonathan Ross on the BBC presenter’s chat show last week. Fry issued a set of tips and hints for new users in a bid to manage the huge number of extra followers he was attracting on a daily basis.

He said that he was “touched and pleased” to have such a loyal Twitter following, but was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with all the messages sent by his followers.

There are a number of other high-profile British Twitter users in the top 40 list. Jonathan Ross is number 26 on the list, with 43,289 followers, just ahead of John Cleese, who has 43,046 Twitter fans. Russell Brand set the record for fastest-growing account with 8,000 new followers in one day, but has not posted since.

Gordon Brown’s Downing Street Twitter account, meanwhile, is the 59th most popular, with 26,579 followers.

Good background info about recent growth in the art of Twittering from the Independent last week:

It was established as a communication tool for geeks and now counts showbusiness stars and the American President among its users.

The popularity of Twitter, the micro-blogging service used by President Obama to remind Americans to vote and tennis player Andy Murray to update fans on the weather, has risen so much that it has seen its visitor numbers increase by nearly 1,000 per cent among UK users.

Latest figures from Hitwise, the online intelligence service, show a 974 per cent increase in traffic, jolting Twitter from the 2,953rd most popular site among UK users to the 291st most visited by mid-January.

Widely feted as the follow up to the networking site Facebook in the evolution of web communication, the service allows users to post short updates about what they are doing. Established as the preferred communication tool for members of the tech community, the service has now entered the mainstream as a form of instant news alert and marketing technique.

The recent explosion in user numbers is largely a product of enthusiasm for a new form of citizen journalism. President Obama has a Twitter profile, although it has been quiet of late, while news of the recent plane crash in New York’s Hudson River first emerged from survivors’ Twitter updates.

Jonathan Ross, the disgraced BBC presenter, has been using the service to chat with fans during his enforced absence from the BBC. He has said he will Twitter live with Stephen Fry, another celebrated Twitterer, on his BBC television programme tonight.

“Twitter was one of the fastest-growing websites in the UK last year, and shows no signs of slowing down,” said Robin Goad, director of research for Hitwise. “If anything, the service is even more popular than our numbers imply, as we are only measuring traffic to the main Twitter website.

“If the people accessing their Twitter accounts via mobile phones and third party applications [such as Twitteriffic, Twitterfeed, and Tweetdeck were included, the numbers could be even higher. Many people seem to find Twitter addictive: the average amount of time that people spend on Twitter.com has more than trebled from less than 10 minutes a year ago to half an hour now.”

Twitter does not provide official figures for its usage, but industry analysts believe that more than 2.25 million “tweets” are posted every day, on top of more than 1.1 billion such messages since the service was launched in early 2007.

And the site is about to open a radical new arm of its operation by integrating search functions into the home pages of users. Until now, users who wanted to search for “tweets” had to go to a separate website, search.twitter.com.

That obstacle is thought to have put off many members of the public. But over the next 10 days, Twitter will start putting search functions into the home page of around 1 per cent of users, asking them for feedback about its efficacy. Biz Stone, one of Twitter’s co-founders, deflected criticism of his creation as simply a platform for narcissists. “Search integration is a way of introducing relevancy to people”, he said. “This is not just about, ‘What are you doing?’ but about what everyone else is doing. Twitter is about finding out what is going on out there right now in real time.”

The fastest growing group of users in the UK is in the 35- to 44 year-old bracket and accounts for 17.3 per cent of UK visitors. Growth in the UK is likely to be accelerated by the reintroduction of free two-way text messaging of “tweets” to countries outside the US.

The service was withdrawn in Europe last year because it was too expensive for the company. For all Twitter’s success, it remains a small player in online networking. Facebook is the most-visited networking site in the UK, with almost 38 per cent share of the market, followed by YouTube, Bebo, and MySpace, with 17 per cent, 9.1 per cent, and 5 per cent respectively.

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