How Do We Express Our Emotions Online?
By Sabrina DorronsoroMar 13
Published February 28th 2020
Twitter allows the kind of access to celebrities that was previously never possible. Now people can tweet directly to the accounts they follow and speak directly to people previously inaccessible.
A huge following can also be great for selling products and promoting yourself, which explains why so many big names spend time on the platform.
So we decided to put together a list of the most followed accounts on Twitter. And here they are.
Jimmy Fallon, chat show host and ex-SNL cast member, takes the 20th spot. Hosting the highest rated US late night talk show of 2018 has obviously done wonders for his Twitter following.
Another member of this list might have helped Jimmy’s Twitter account get some attention. Back in June, Donald Trump attacked Fallon for apologizing for having the now-President on his chat show and playfully ruffling his hair. Trump told Fallon to “be a man.”
Fallon mostly used his account to promote The Tonight Show sharing clips from the program, but he also gets followers to reply with stuff he might use on the show.
The global pop superstar with trustworthy hips sits in 19th place. You don’t hear much about Shakira in the UK anymore, but her 2017 album El Dorado performed incredibly well in Latin America, the US, and mainland Europe. Clearly the UK is missing out.
Either way, Shakira’s worldwide appeal explains the massive amount of Twitter followers she’s racked up. She also counts Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, and Maria Sharapova among them. Strong backing.
Her account itself has the usual pop star mix of promotional and personal content, along with updates on her charitable activities. She’s also one of the most influential women on Twitter.
Our first politician of the list, it’s India’s Prime Minister Modi. Modi will be pretty happy about making this list. He’s been an avid Twitter user since 2009, realising early on the influence social media can have on politics.
Having been in power since 2014, his following has gone from strength to strength. If you really want to understand his process here’s a nice piece on his decade on Twitter.
Modi uses his account for exactly what you’d expect of a politician and head of state. He campaigns for his party, talks about issues affecting India, and tweets about diplomacy between his country and others.
Another pop star on the list (and certainly not the last), it’s Britney Spears. Since becoming a worldwide teenage sensation, she’s kept up her career through a mix of controversy and success. Despite being eclipsed by other pop stars today, she’s still one of the most well-known celebrities in the world.
With fame comes Twitter followers, but Britney can also claim some pretty big celeb followers herself. Drake, Cher, and Janet Jackson all follower her.
Her Twitter account is the usual fare. Updates on her music and tours, behind the scenes videos, and personal posts.
Hey! It’s your good buddy, CNN, with all the breaking news you could want. A lot of people (myself included) use Twitter to keep abreast of what’s happening. It’s one of the things that makes the platform so great (and terrible when news breaks and misinformation flies all over).
So it’s no surprise an account all about breaking news is in the top 20. It’s also the only news outlet in this list. The New York Times is the next most followed with 42m followers, while the BBC’s breaking news account has 38.8m.
The account is exactly what you’d expect. Regular updates on the biggest stories from around the world.
Not exactly a surprise that the account of the platform we’re talking about has a top spot, although maybe they hoped they’d be higher.
There’s not too much to say on this. People follow the Twitter account because news and developments are posted here, or because they just really like Twitter.
Along with new app and platform updates and other Twitter-related content, the account seems to have leaned into Twitter-style talk with short, often cryptic, tweets that barely make sense. Weird Twitter has somehow taken over.
Pop stars really do well on Twitter with Selena Gomez next up. She’s one of the biggest acts on the planet as well as being a star actor, so again, no surprise she’s made the list with ease.
The 9th most influential woman on Twitter, you can find Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and Emma Watson amongst her tens of millions of followers.
Selena’s Twitter account is pretty much dedicated to promoting her music and acting, with the occasional shoutouts to celebrity friends and her personal thoughts.
Kim Kardashian and social media are inextricably linked. The world famous businesswoman and TV personality has garnered a huge following on every social media platform she touches.
She’s the 4th most influential woman on Twitter, while she also counts Ariana Grande, Sofia Vergara, and Serena Williams as followers.
She also uses her account much like other people in this list. There’s a lot of promotional stuff (particularly around her KKW Beauty company) along with general updates about her life.
Ex-boyband star, now hugely successful solo artist, Timberlake has translated this fame into tens of millions of Twitter followers.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised about Timberlake’s social media savviness after his appearance in the film The Social Network.
There isn’t a huge amount of promotion on his Twitter, with much more weighting to videos and pictures of his personal comings and goings. Much more like an Instagram page than others on this list.
It’s been a big couple of years for Ariana Grande and with successive hits, she’s rarely been away from the headlines. With the release of her song ‘thank u, next’ kicking up a storm on Twitter, no one will be shocked to see her on this list.
Her Twitter following is pretty start-studded as well including Jared Leto, Harry Styles, and Lindsay Lohan.
Grande not only posts personal and promotional tweets, but also gives plenty of shout outs to her fans.
Ahead of Twitter’s own account is YouTube who come in at nine. As the 2nd top site according to Alexa, YouTube’s popularity has crossed platforms giving them one of the most successful accounts on Twitter.
Along with the pithy bio of “Like and subscribe.”, YouTube’s account is pretty straightforward. It simply posts short clips and links to video on their platform. Simple and a really good way to shine a spotlight on deserving YouTubers.
Our second politician of the list is the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. This is his personal account rather than the @potus one all Presidents get access to (that currently has 25m followers).
Trump and his Twitter account are rarely out of the news. He has used it to make policy announcements or attack opponents, while his use of capitals and terms like ‘sad’ have become a constant point of ridicule and parody.
With up to 2 – 6 years left of a Trump presidency, we can expect him to hold his place in this list for some time.
Be careful and try staying in your house. Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold. Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2019
Our second talk show host is Ellen DeGeneres, who beats out Fallon and lands in our number 8 spot. Host of the massively popular Ellen show, her huge viewing figures have made her a hit on Twitter too.
We can also assume that her famous Oscars tweet that, for a while, was the most retweeted tweet of all time, also has something to do with her high follower count.
Technically, her account is for her show (the handle being @TheEllenShow), so pretty much all tweets are pictures and clips that help promote that. Having said that, a few personal tweets appear from time to time too.
With huge successes in music and acting, particularly with her recent performance in the film A Star is Born, Lady Gaga finds herself as the 6th most followed person on Twitter.
She clearly resonates well with her audience too, being the 3rd most influential woman on Twitter, according to our research. Her followers include Miley Cyrus, David Guetta, and Oprah Winfrey.
Her account is mostly updates on her music and acting, along with the activities of her Born This Way Foundation.
This holiday season all of us need (and all of us can give) love, kindness, and community. I believe kindness can change the world so please join me in pledging to #MultiplyYourGood today! 💕 @btwfoundation will match every act of good you share with us 💪 https://t.co/ibo205Ounn— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) December 17, 2018
Our only sports personality on the list, we have Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best football (soccer) player on the planet, in 7th place. Along with playing for the Portuguese national team, he’s had stints at the biggest clubs in the world including Juventus F.C, Real Madrid, and Manchester United.
The 4th most influential man on Twitter, Ronaldo has some pretty big-name followers including Lil Wayne, Jack Dorsey (as in the CEO of Twitter), and Usain Bolt.
His account is pretty consistent, with his recent tweets mostly being pictures of him and his family simply hanging out and getting up to whatever impossibly rich footballers get up to.
We’re into the final stretch now and in 5th place, we have Taylor Swift. Being one of the biggest pop stars on the planet not only brings you fame and fortune, but Twitter followers too.
Swift is also the most influential person on Twitter according to our research. To make that even more impressive, Taylor Swift barely even tweets.
In 2018, she tweeted just over 20 times and that was it. She’s yet to send one in 2019. Her 83.4m followers are clearly patient.
Another musician in our list (and still not the last), we have megastar and beauty product entrepreneur, Rihanna. With a slew of hits to her name and her Fenty business going from strength to strength, she has managed to grow a huge following on Twitter.
Rihanna’s Twitter has made the news a lot too, in particularly with her criticising Donald Trump for using her songs at his rallies.
Aside from Presidential beef, Rihanna’s Twitter account has the usual promotional stuff, but also includes more personal tweets, such as shoutouts to collaborators and political posts.
In third place we have Katy Perry, world famous pop star and girl kisser. From humble beginnings singing in churches, Perry has now established herself as one of the biggest music acts in the world.
The 2nd most influential woman on Twitter, Perry is followed by four members of One Direction (Zayn being the only one who hasn’t), Alicia Keys, and Neil Patrick Harris.
Possibly explaining her high count, Perry uses Twitter to posts her own thoughts and personal messages, rather than flooding the feed with promotional tweets (although they come up every so often too).
Justin Bieber has been a near constant presence since his 2010 hit “Baby.” Since then he’s remained in the limelight, updating his style and look as he’s got older, and becoming one of the biggest stars there is.
Some of Bieber’s more notable followers include Jaden Smith, Queen Latifah, and Iggy Azalea. He’s also the 7th most influential man on Twitter too.
His actual account has less promotional posts compared to others in this list. Posts come sparingly, and they’re just as often random thoughts and the type of content any other Twitter user might post.
In first place we have two-term President of the United States, Barack Obama. It’ll be no shock that holding the most powerful office in the world gets you a lot of followers.
Obama’s account has already made headlines in 2019, with his positive new year message of hope for the future was compared to Trump’s all-capitals rant about the media just a few hours earlier.
With the presidency behind him, Obama mostly tweets about his other activities, such as the work being done by his Obama Foundation.
Congrats to Obama on being the most followed person on Twitter!
Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while. pic.twitter.com/JG7Jgu4p9t— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 6, 2019
Well, it’s clear that celebs in the real world will be celebs on Twitter. Barring the brands of YouTube and Twitter, none of the accounts listed made their name on the internet, while pretty much all of them were famous before Twitter even existed.
While there are a swathe of internet celebrities with gigantic followings, it seems they only take the top rankings on YouTube, which suggests to use that users on that platform who actively subscribe to channels are a lot different to their Twitter counterparts.
Another interest area to look at is the types of people and accounts that make the top 20.
Musicians massively dominate, which is somewhat surprising considering the association Twitter has with world events and politics. Having said that, we have two presidents and prime minister in the list, so who knows how this may change as the world changes also?
Clearly celebrity (and a big PR budget we imagine) wins out.
Let’s see what the next decade holds.