Who’s the (social media) King of New York?

Social media connects people across the globe. Twitter in particular has made it possible for people all over the world to feel a part of the same online community. But social also works at a local level. Tight-knit groups have formed around common interests or common-geography. And few places in the world have such a strong sense of identity and shared culture as New York. We took a look at the people and the conversations that make this great city tick on Twitter.

Apple π Score
1Adam Schefter@AdamSchefter962.7M
2Donald Trump@realDonaldTrump962.5M
3Jimmy Fallon@jimmyfallon9611.7M
4Piers Morgan@piersmorgan964M
5Carmelo Anthony@carmeloanthony964.5M
6French Montana@FrencHMonTanA951.6M
7Mike Bloomberg@MikeBloomberg950.6M
8Nasir Jones@Nas951.4M
9Darren Rovell@darrenrovell950.4M
10Action Bronson@ActionBronson950.2M
11Neil deGrasse Tyson@neiltyson941.7M
12Spike Lee@SpikeLee940.6M
13Andrew Kaczynski@BuzzFeedAndrew940.1M
14Lana Del Rey@LanaDelRey943.5M
15Maria Popova@brainpicker940.4M
16Andrew Cuomo@NYGovCuomo940.1M
17Geoff De Weaver@geoff_deweaver940.6M
18Iman Shumpert@I_Am_Iman940.3M
19Anderson Cooper@andersoncooper944.8M
20Joe Santagato@JoeSantagato940.2M
21Frank Isola@FisolaNYDN940.06M
22Alan Hahn@alanhahn940.05M
23Matt Harvey@MattHarvey33940.1M
24Bill Clinton@billclinton941.6M
25Christopher Hayes@chrislhayes940.3M
26Hillary Clinton@HillaryClinton931.2M
27Alicia Keys@aliciakeys9318.5M
28Angela Yee@angelayee930.4M
29Wendy Williams@WendyWilliams931.1M
30Anthony De Rosa@AntDeRosa930.07M
31Talin Kweli Greene@TalibKweli920.8M
32Kirsten Gillibrand@SenGillibrand930.1M
33Brian Stelter@brianstelter930.2M
34Yoko Ono@yokoono934.7M
35Norman Reedus@wwwbigbaldhead930.9M
36Joan Rivers@Joan_Rivers932M
37Craig Carton@cc660930.07M
38Frankie James Grande@FrankieJGrande930.5M
39Nate Silver@fivethirtyeight930.7M
40Rachel Maddow@maddow922.8M
41David Robertston@dbrob30920.1M
42Melissa Harris-Perry@MHarrisPerry920.3M
43Jon Heyman@jonheymanCBS920.3M
44Michelle Beadle@MichelleDBeadle920.8M
45Lil' Kim@LilKim921.2M
46Bethenny Frankel@Bethenny921.3M
47Bill De Blasio@deBlasioNYC920.5M
48Katie Couric@katiecouric921M
50Rachel Barnhart@rachbarnhart920.02M

We looked at how more than 200m active Twitter users tweeted using PiQ our social audience dashboard. We then filtered out all tweets not sent by people from New York state, and then modelled the patterns of influence amongst Twitter users in the city.

Overall, we focussed on around 1.45m Twitter users in New York state, of whom an estimated 80% were in New York City itself. This group tweets on average 2.5m times per day and we looked over 30 days to February 24th.

For New York’s Top Tweeters, we applied a special rule: only influence from other New Yorkers counted. Every area is a community, and New York stronger than most. So our top lists are the people who most influenced other people from New York. While we looked at twitter users across New York state, around 80% of those active were in New York City itself, and this itself was reflected in the the top tweeters.

Who’s the King of New York?

NFL commentator Adam Schefter took the top spot in our influence list. It seems that in New York, Sport is King. Despite a frustrating past year for New York sports fans in almost all competitions there is a passionate and loyal interest for their local teams.  Sports personalities and pundits appear throughout the list.  Basketball is represented by Carmelo Anthony(5th) and Iman Shumpert(18th) of the Knicks. And Mets pitcher, Matt Harvey, takes a strong 23rd place.

Hip Hop City

When not watching sport, this is a city that moves to the beat of Hip Hop. The influence of music can be felt all the way down the list. And looking at the individuals on it, you can tell a lot about this city’s taste in music. Rapper French Montana is the highest ranked musician, followed by Nasir Jones and Queen’s born Action Bronson. Female R&B stars Alicia Keys and Lil Kim also feature. Interestingly, all those singers, except for Alicia Keys, had a higher Apple π score than their overall PeerIndex score. This suggests that they are specifically popular in New York and not just on the list because they are famous all over the world.

Family Connections

Both of the Clintons appear on the list. The family who lived for a while in Harlem, have made New York their home. Their influence in the outside world clearly resonating on Twitter as well even though Bill and Hillary only follow 12 other people between them. Their daughter Chelsea narrowly missed the top 50.

It’s not all about followers

One of the most striking features of the New York list is the lack of correlation between follower numbers and influence. PeerIndex doesn’t look at follower numbers when calculating scores. It is Authority and Engagement that results in higher numbers. Half of the top 20 have fewer than a million followers. And some individuals and brands have been able to make a massive impact on this New York community without necessarily commanding huge, celebrity-like numbers of followers. This goes to show that if you engage strategically and creatively with a clear target audience, you can have a huge amount of influence without needing to be a huge organisation.

Maria Popova is one of the most influential women in New York on Twitter. Hardly someone you would often compare to the likes of Alicia Keys and Yoko Ono and other celebrities, but her fantastic website Brian Pickings obviously makes a big impact among this audience.

What about Brands?

New York Brands
Apple π
1New York Times9811.1M
2Wall Street Journal974.1M
6New York Yankees971M
7New York Knicks970.9M
10New York Post960.6M
11NY Mets960.2M
12New York Rangers960.3M
13ABC News963M
15Rolling Stone963.5M
16The New Yoker963M
17Time Magazine965.5M
19NBC News951.3M
20New York Magazine950.4M
22Complex Magazine950.3M
23USA Today951M
24New York Daily News950.2M
25CBS News953M

Big name media outlets took most of the places on the Brand List, with the New York Times taking the top spot. Buzzfeed crept into the first 3, displacing some more established publications.

There were some small local heroes in there too. The Gothamist, with only around 130,000 followers is making a serious impact in it’s niche community.

And of course there were sports teams and music brands scattered throughout the list. The Yankees was the most influential of these even though none of their players featured in the list of individuals.

What content do New Yorkers love?


Music. Sport. Fashion. New Yorkers know what they like. There were some major events taking place during the survey that captured people’s attention specifically:

The Grammys were the most popular. The hashtag for the event was shared more than 100K times by NY tweeters. This passion for music explains why musicians feature prominently on the influencer lists.

Other topics included politics and technology. And of course… New York City itself!


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 an Apple 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 Apple π-score is an influence score in the context of the New York Twittersphere.

For this research, we focussed only on whether other people in New York 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 tweets from more than 200m accounts on Twitter to generate this list.

We did a couple of small pieces of editorialisation:

  • We excluded parody accounts and content-only twitter accounts (such as @hornyfacts @uberfacts).

  • We made some other small judgements about where people were located to ensure the list was reasonably accurate.

  • Tweeters had to be active in the 28 days to Feb 24th. If you weren’t active during this time you were eliminated. Sorry Jay-Z!

Image credit: Beraldo Leal