Move over Stephen Fry and Wossy. Britain has a new top tweeter

Twitter, Web 2.0

richard_bacon.jpgSo who is the most popular Briton on Twitter? Stephen Fry with his old pal Wossy close behind? Well no, there are some new, interesting and controversial names at the top now.

If you check the figures on Twitterholic you’ll see Coldplay are the most popular micro blogging Brits by some distance. Last time I looked they were homing in on two million followers and had the likes of Miley Cyrus and Lance Armstrong in their sights. Coldplay’s Twitter feed is an excellent example of how a brand can use social media to engage with their fans but as Coldplay are a band not an individual they don’t count in my list.

Those rules also mean the next Briton on the list, Pete Cashmore, is out of the running too. The Scottish fella, who spends much of his time in San Francisco at the moment, is the brains behind Mashable, which these days is quite possibly the world’s most influential tech blog.

So the first genuine Briton is none other than Lily Rose Allen who today will probably become the first Brit to pass 1.5 million followers on Twitter. She is currently in a mini spat with Chris Moyles, who in spite of thinking himself a big noise in the micro blogging world has only around 300,000 followers.

So Lily has top spot but who is bubbling under? Well the surprise package is singer songwriter Imogen Heap, who shot up over the summer while tweeting about her new album Ellipse. Unlike a lot of celebs she quite often follows back – and at the time of looking was logging 35,000 other tweeters as opposed to the 56 people that Lily Allen follows.

The other one to watch is a BBC presenter who has a Twitter following that Moyles can only dream about.

Richard P Bacon’s rise to the top of Twitter tree hasn’t been as meteoric as say Wossy, but he is steadily on his way to becoming the most popular Briton on twitter.

Self proclaimed minor celebrity Bacon hosts Radio Five Live’s late night programme where for the last nine months he has mercilessly plugged Twitter and his own feed. To his credit Bacon was one of the first BBC radio presenters to realise that Tweeting is a fantastic way of interacting with an audience. So he will often use his feed to ask his listeners questions, plug the guests on the show and encourage fellow tweeters to express their opinions.

Bacon recently passed the one million followers mark, which ironically means that he now has more followers than listeners to his show. He is also well clear of other BBC celebs like Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross.

There’s an interesting question mark over who actually owns Bacon’s Twitter feed. In amassing over a million followers Bacon has become very influential on Twitter and is a gatekeeper to a huge and very receptive audience. Now just suppose he were to leave the BBC, he could be in a position to endorse brands etc on his feed for which he could potentially charge an awful lot of money. There has been a lot of noise recently about how much a Twitter follower is worth and so far no one has come up with a convincing formula. However an audience that large, that engaged and that accessible is a an ad person’s dream.

Yet we shouldn’t forget that the main reason why Bacon’sTwitter feed is so popular is that he has plugged it so relentlessly on his show. Also that Twitter is a privately owned company which will one day make its owners a lot of money. Further I have never ever heard Bacon say that ‘along with Twitter other micro blogging services are available.’ Isn’t that BBC policy?

So do we the licence payers really own that feed, or does it belong to Richard Bacon? And what would happen to the BBC endorsing Twitter if suddenly the micro blogging service started peppering its pages with contextual advertising? If Twitter continues to grow these are questions that will soon need an answer.

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