10bn Tweets… 140 Influencers… One Direction

Introducing the 3rd Annual PeerIndex survey of the top tweeters in the UK.

In the UK, Twitter has now become part of our digital public space. More than 15m Brits use it each month. But who actually has Twitter influence in the UK? And how much do they exert?

To answer these questions, PeerIndex analysed more than 10 billion tweets from more than 150 million active Twitter users using PiQ, our social audience technology. We then filtered out all tweeters based outside of the UK; and then modelled the patterns of influence amongst Twitter users in the UK.
We used PiQ to report a context-specific score of their influence, the UK π score (UK Pi Score) – tweeters’ influence only counted when they influenced other people in the UK. The results were fascinating…

Twitter UK Top 10

Click to see the entire list!


Who is at the top?


Harry StylesOne Direction and their close friends dominate the top of the list. The sheer volume of mentions and conversations generated by their legions of fans is hard to escape. They are followed by another musician, Ed Sheeran.

David Cameron, Piers Morgan and Caitlin Moran are the top three tweeters not in the music industry, although the PM recently cameo’d in one of One Direction’s pop videos. Cameron does extremely well – showing the value of his political mettle – as he has fewer than 500k followers compared to the 3m or more of Morgan and the boy band.

Independent tweeters, not affiliated to a sports team, political party, media outlet or band, can and still do make the list. A large number of bloggers and vloggers are in the top 50.

Compared to previous years reports, it is tougher than ever to make the list.

Who are surprising fixtures?


The writers / columnists / activists Caitlin Moran, Owen Jones and Sunny Hundal feature very strongly despite having comparatively small followings. Why? Their provocative ideas trigger debate (and disagreement) across the spectrum.

Caitlin MoranVloggers like Caspar Lee and Alfie Deyes have been able to turn YouTube influence into Twitter power.

Twitter is so rich and vast that sub-cultures co-exist on it, often without knowing about each other. For example, even though more than 900,000 people follow both George Osborne, the chancellor, and Rylan, the reality TV celebrity, they only have 6 followers in common. (We are looking at you @stellacreasy, @davidwalliams, @vickybeeching).

Of course, an exercise like this has its limits. The manifold richness of Twitter, like a fractal of interests, nuance, fleeting and permanent, is a rich landscape to explore.
Following public figures is fine – and fun. Do it.

But much of the power lies in the middle of Twitter. What analyst Benedict Evans calls Twitter’s blank canvas:

“Once you’ve build up a twitter feed around your interests, and a global network of people you’ve never actually met that you talk to, that’s hard to replicate elsewhere.”

So always make sure you also find time to explore that blank canvas as well.


The key is to understand how other people respond to a tweeter. Your rating is a function of other people’s assessments. This process, a bit like voting, is harder for a single individual to ‘game’. Each person is then assigned a UK π-score (Pi-score) from 1 to 100. This being the top of the tree, all of our Top 140 have scores above 92. The Uk π-score is an influence score in the context of the UK Twitter sphere.

For the Twitter 140, we focussed only on whether other people in the UK were responding to, retweeting or engaging with a tweeter.

Our maths also assesses who the people engaging with an influencer are. So a retweet from someone highly influential is worth more than a retweet from an average person. The number of followers does not factor in the weighting.
We crunched around 10bn tweets and looked at more than 150m accounts on Twitter to generate this list.

We did a couple of small pieces of editorialisation:

  • We excluded all corporate and brand accounts, such as newspapers.
  • We excluded parody accounts.
  • We excluded journalists from the main national newspapers. We may do a separate journalist table in the future.
  • We included a couple of Brits who are transatlantic, like Piers Morgan; as well as Caspar Lee, whose audience is heavily British. We kept will.i.am in because he always seems to pop-up on British TV. We made some other small judgements about where people were located to ensure the list was reasonably accurate.

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