Damon Cortesi's blog

Musings of an entrepreneur.

The Twitter 2K Effect

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As part of a recent project, I’ve been digging into some pretty cool data using Tableau. One of the instant deciders somebody on Twitter makes when they’re followed by a new user is their friends/followers ratio. If a user has lots of friends, but few followers, they’re not likely to be very interesting or can even be spammy accounts.

As part of their attempt to combat spam, Twitter initially limits the number of people you can follow to 2,000. Once you have been vetted by other users in the form of them following you, you can add more friends. This creates an interesting distribution when you start analyzing the friends to followers count. Taking a look at the image below, there are several things to note.

The Twitter 2K Effect

  • There’s a large majority of Twitter users within the initial friend/following block of 2,000
  • People rarely have over 1,000 friends without at least 250 people following them back
  • You can obviously see that Twitter allows you to start adding more friends once you’ve hit 1,800 followers
  • Once that limit has been passed, people generally continue to have a fairly steady ratio of 1:1
  • However, there are a fair number of users who begin to restrict their # of friends after that point, but continue to receive more followers once they’ve been “acknowledged”
  • Most of the users with more friends than followers in the bottom right are early Twitter accounts before Twitter imposed their limit
  • There also seems to be a significant group of celebrity or otherwise popular users that have limited friends, but stretch up the left side with a large number of followers

What other conclusions do you draw from this? There are some other interesting behaviors once you dive into the 2k section.