Which UK newspapers are winning on Twitter?

Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

Britain’s newspapers have navigated through the social media era with mixed success and in many ways the technology has transformed our country’s news-media industry. In this blog post we’ve analysed the Twitter followers of all the leading national newspapers to see if we can learn anything interesting.

The first thing we did was compare conventional circulation figures with Twitter follower counts. It’s obvious that there’s no correlation between the two, and the three lowest circulation papers also happen to have the most followers.

Followers vs Circulation

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that the Daily Mail has a lower following than the Guardian and the Independent, given that the Mail has done such an impressive job of thriving in the online world. The real standout here is obviously the Guardian with over 4 million followers despite being a relatively low-circulation left-leaning broadsheet.

Next we analysed the gender split of followers for each newspaper’s Twitter profile. While there isn’t too much difference between these figures, a few papers have marginally more female readers. The Daily Mail has the highest number of women followers at 44%, which is no surprise since the newspaper is known to be the most popular amongst female readers. The Financial Times has the lowest number of women, at 28%. Again, this isn’t entirely surprising if we consider the well documented gender gap in senior business roles.

gender split

Sysomos gives every Twitter user an authority score of between 0 and 10, which is based on a combination of factors including follower/following counts and how frequently they get retweeted. Typically, most Twitter users have low authority, with fewer and fewer people achieving the higher levels of authority. In this next chart we show the average authority scores for each newspaper’s followers.

Average Follower Authority

What’s surprising here is that the i (a kind of lighter, easier to digest sister publication to the Independent) has a significantly higher average authority than the others. What does this prove? Probably not much, but you could take it as an indication that that paper attracts a younger, more connected and social media savvy readership, which certainly appears to be the title’s target market.

The paper with the lowest average authority is the Daily Express.

To understand what kind of people follow the different papers on Twitter, we used Sysomos MAP to produce a word-cloud for each account’s follower profiles. This feature analyses all of the accounts followers and builds this visualisation based on the most commonly used words in their personal profiles.

Broadsheet Twitter Wordcloud

Tabloid Twitter Wordcloud

Newspaper Twitter Wordclouds

What’s striking here is just how similar the clouds look for most of the newspapers – the only one which has any major differences is the FT, with a more business focused audience. There are some subtle differences, however. For example, the word football is more common in followers of tabloids, while the word university is more common among broadsheet followers. Happily, the words love, life and music seem to be common across all newspaper readers.

Finally, Syomos MAP enables us to compare Twitter accounts to see how many followers they share. For example, here we can see how many followers the Sun shares with the Daily Mail and Daily Star. 

Follower Overlap


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