Corporate Social Strategists on Twitter: Looking at the Numbers

34 Comments 01.10.11

This weekend marketing analyst Jeremiah Owyang assembled a fabulous list of nearly 200 people who run social media strategies at corporations around the world. It’s the second year he’s done so and let me tell you: there are few things more wonderful than a well-categorized list of people.

Jeremiah listed the names, titles and employers of each person on his list and he linked to their LinkedIn profile. I wanted to interact with these people on Twitter, for many different reasons, so last night I spent a couple hours putting together some resources that we can all use.

First and most important is this: a Twitter list of 141 of these people that I was able to find accounts for. Follow that puppy and you’ll be able to interact with all 141 people in one place. I’ve got them coming into a column in Tweetdeck and it’s never been so easy to interact with so many leading minds behind social strategies at some of the world’s biggest companies. This would probably make a pretty interesting Flipboard magazine, too.

I used a number of different tools to create a number of different little things you can see below – but I’ve saved what I think is the best for last.

Compiling this list was the slowest part of everything else I did here, but even that didn’t take too long. I went down Jeremiah’s blog post and highlighted the names one at a time. I’m using the Apture semantic browser plug-in and it could tell these were peoples’ names. One of the first things it looks for when it sees a name is a Twitter account, so I just opened those up in new tabs to make sure they were correct and then added those people to my list. It was pretty fast. I considered uploading the list of 200 to Mechanical Turk and paying people 5 cents per username they found, but I decided that the $20 that would have cost (to have each name checked twice) wasn’t as big a cost as the lost opportunity of getting to see each of these people and their profiles myself. So I took a few hours on a Sunday night to make the list.

Update: Jeremiah very graciously shared this post out with his contacts but asked how we could keep the Twitter list and related resources up to date as he frequently adds new names to his list. I had to think about that for a moment, but then settled on this solution: I’ve pointed Yahoo’s Dapper at the page to check every 15 minutes or so if there are any new names on the list. If there are, the new addition will be delivered into an RSS feed. I’ve subscribed to that feed in and told it to send me any updates by IM and by email. So when Jeremiah adds anyone to the list, I’ll get a ping and will add them to the Twitter list! Screenshot of the Dapper interface below. Much like Needlebase – it’s point and click easy.

Let’s Scrape The Data!

Now that I had 141 of these people all in a nice Twitter list, where they could be found with a single URL, all kinds of fun things become possible. I used a service called Needlebase to scrape all the usernames, locations, bios and follower/following numbers from each person on that list. Training and running all that took me about 5 minutes. Then I exported that data in CSV format and played with it in some interesting ways.

Some simple math:

  • The corporate social strategist on the list with the most followers? Ford’s Scott Monty with 48,705 followers. Followed by Collin Douma VP of Social Media at Proximity BBDO, the super-charming Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions, @RichardatDell and my friend since we were high school debate competitors, Justin Kistner of Webtrends.
  • Who’s following the most people? Douma’s following nearly 40k people, and the rest of the top 5 is close to the same as above but with the addition of H&R Block’s Zena Weist, who follows just shy of 10k users.
    Here’s a chart of the distribution showing number of people a strategist follows. I lopped off the top two at 40k so we could see the rest of the chart better.
  • Who has Tweeted the most? Shashi Bellamkonda is far in the lead, with 45,184 Tweets. In case you’re curious, that means Shashi has posted an average of 32 Tweets each day for the 3.5 years he’s been on Twitter. He’s even more fun in person, by the way. #2 most prolific? Capgemini’s Rick Mans, who lives in the Netherlands. #3 is Devry University’s Sonny Gill.
  • Who’s been on Twitter the longest? As far as I can tell, The most recent person on the list to join Twitter is ECI Telecom’s Colleen Seery, who appears to have created her account just under two months ago. (Update: Seery explains in comments below that she’s been using Twitter for more than a year, she just created a new account this Fall.) Every single other person on the list who uses Twitter has been using it for 299 days or more, and only 1 out of every 7 have been on Twitter for under two years. What does that mean? That these people learned fast, perhaps, and that there’s not a lot of new blood among people in charge of social. Maybe it means you shouldn’t expect to run social strategy at a corporation if you’ve used Twitter for less than 2 years.
  • The average Twitter account on our list is being followed by 2,758 people. If you remove Scott Monty from the list, the average is 2,430. Here’s a chart of the spread. Sorry it’s not a prettier chart.
  • Who’s been at their current jobs the longest among all the members of Jeremiah Owyang’s list? He’s linked to LinkedIn profiles and though LinkedIn doesn’t really like to be scraped, Needlebase was able to do a decent job. It appears that the senior-most person on the list is Todd Watson, Turbotodd, who’s been at IBM for more than 19 years. Who on the list has the freshest job, according to their LinkedIn profile? Mike Boehmer, who according to Foursquare checked in at the first day of his new job as Media Manager at Catholic Health Partners in Cincinnati this morning. (Congrats Mike!)

Text Analysis

How do corporate social strategists describe themselves on Twitter? I scraped everyone’s bio descriptions, put those words into a text file, found and replaced all instances of the words social, media and marketing, then uploaded what remained into It looks like people feel very comfortable referencing their personal lives in their Twitter profiles. Click below to view full sized.


Needlebase makes it pretty easy to map people and places, too. Here’s everyone globally on the list, sorted by city. You can click it for a full-size view too.

How about a map of cities with strategists who have Tweeted more than 5,000 times? That’s the most prolific Tweeters, about 1/3 of the list. That map looks a little bit different, but not too much.

The Best for Last

All of the above is pretty interesting I think, but besides the Twitter list of all these people made easy to follow in one place – there’s one other resource that I think is likely to prove valuable in the long run. That’s figuring out who these influencers listen to the most themselves. The lists of who they are following on Twitter are all publicly available, so it’s just a matter of scraping and counting.

Who do the largest number of these people follow in common? #1 is of course Jeremiah Owayng himself, the man who made the list! 117 out of 141 of the Twitter accounts I found on this list were following Jeremiah. I don’t know what excuse the other 24 have. Rounding out the top 10:
Mashable, Charlene Li, Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, Robert Scoble, TechCrunch, Zappos, Guy Kawasaki, Forrester and Scott Monty. In other words, basically who you might expect. Here’s a list you can use to subscribe to the accounts in that group that publish less than 30 updates a day.

That’s the kind of fun you can have with a good list of well categorized people and some free, easy-to-learn data extraction tools! Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang for putting together the list and thanks to you for visiting my site to read about it.

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  • Jaime Steele

    Wow! What an article and what a piece of work! I’ve bookmarked it to delve into in great detail tomorrow. Can’t wait.

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  • Denton Gentry

    It is interesting that even amongst social media professionals, the number of follows/followers appears to be a power law distribution.

  • tom martin


    All I can say is Thank You. Thank you for intro’ing me to a few tools I didn’t know about, for giving me a killer list I can subscribe to (and have) and in general, for sharing.

    Truly killer stuff. Appreciate you getting the noggin going at this late point in the day.

  • Jeremiah Owyang


    You are really amazing! I was really impressed to see all this additional data, and amazed how we have the same passions. Great job, and thanks again.

    (PS: how cool is it to serve a great industry)

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  • Brian Solis

    Marshall, you really work in amazing ways. Sharing with everyone now. Also, big nods to Jeremiah for his hard work. Proud to know both of you…and many people on this list.

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  • Laura Meade Kirk

    Thanks so much for pulling this all together — not only a great list of names of people to follow, but also a super list of tools and how to use them!

  • Shashi Bellamkonda


    Wow ! great analysis. By the time you do this again I hope you will be in the top 10 of people follow. Even I did not know I would top any list and thanks for “more fun in person, by the way” label and I am looking forward to meeting you sometime soon, maybe SXSW or Webvisions.

    btw Justin Kistner is a good friend too. Appreciate your taking this time.


  • Paul Flanigan

    I feel like I’m enjoying your hard work, but have spent 10 minutes pouring through this, have read it twice, and have added your list to my Tweetdeck. Remarkable work.

    And..I’m following you now. Gotta love the virility of intelligence on Twitter. Thank you, Marshall.

  • kathleen mazzocco

    Killer! I’m awed. Can you do this for a list pertinent to Vancouver, B.C? Pretty please? (Joke)

  • Scott Monty

    Marshall, thanks for taking the time to dig into Jeremiah’s data a little more deeply and for parsing out some of the information. Sorry to skew the numbers so much!

    Personally, I think the list that you’ve put together will be the most helpful. I have a budding list of corporate social media types, but it doesn’t begin to hold a candle to yours. Thanks!

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  • Christopher Baccus

    Interesting data and analysis. As someone who just joined this club last July, to head up social media at AT&T, I find your Twitter list a good source for some of the names I didn’t know. Thanks. So what’s next a Klout analysis? ;)

  • Todd Watson

    Nice analysis, as always, Marshall. Now, I’d better run and get my cane and get back to the nursing home. LOL

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  • Colleen Seery

    Hi Marshall,

    Thanks for mentioning me in your article, but I have actually been using Twitter for around two years (for both personal and business use). I originally had a personal account with a handle that did not include my proper name, so I closed that account and recently opened a new one featuring the handle @cseery. Hope this helps clarify things.

    Colleen Seery

  • Paul Bove

    Hello Marshall:
    Stats and numbers usually make me go cross-eyed, but your approach is so unique that I stayed captivated! A hard task to be sure. Thanks for putting this data into easy-to-understand terms for those of us who are a bit number impaired.

  • Sharon Corsaro

    You are amazing! Thanks so much for so succinctly spelling out some really complex data ~ you had me glued!
    Thank you,

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  • Bob Giford

    You have a ton of insight on pulling all of this data together in a usable way with a mashup of services.

    The quickest option to some of these would be friendorfollow. You can export a csv other people’s followers and profile info on the fly w/o following them.

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  • Barry A. Martin

    A year or two ago I read something of yours Marshall and meant to congratulate you on a well thought out piece. I didn’t, then, but I don;t want to miss the opportunity again.

    I know it’s fun, and I know it’s your trade, but it takes something special to put it all together and and articulate how to put social media data to good use.

    Congrats and thanks.

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  • Jason Sem

    I was also going to put these peeps on a Twitter list but then I found your’s. Thanks for putting that together. FYI – In addition to Flipboard, also is a great way to aggregate Twitter lists:

  • Khittel

    haven’t been able to check yr. 141 vs. jeremiah’s 200+ — which i’m on — b/c “twitter is tempoprarily unavailable” — but i must senior-most person, w/ now 24 yrs. at new york life

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  • Lluvia fastidiosa

    And do you know something about the age of this people?? I´m trying to find it!