Two days ago, Patrick Gavin wrote an article for Politico titled, “The 10 most influential D.C. Twitterers,” but in fact what he wrote was an article about the 10 most influential people who happen to use Twitter. People on the list like David Gregory and Ana Marie Cox are not “bad” at Twitter (though one could argue that Barack Obama and Al Gore are), but the list simply does not live up to the title of the article. Fortunately for Gavin, in response Mark Milian from the LA Times issued an even worse list, based strictly on the number of followers for each account.
What Gavin and Milian share is a lack of understanding about what Twitter really is, and how that makes one influential. Twitter is not a messaging service for blasting out text-sized press releases. Twitter is a giant, deconstructed conversation where people share information with each other.
These two journalists (and many others) lack this understanding because, frankly, they don’t really understand Twitter that well. For example, Gavin suffers from the fact that only about 5% of his tweets are conversational – and interestingly, many of the ones that are happen to be with people who made his list. What is more damning than them not being Twitter mavens themselves, however, is the fact that they seem to not have interviewed any, either.
People who are truly influential – “twinfluential” if you will – have one important thing in common: they’re part of a community. Stemming from this participation, their tweets are copied and talked about regularly, their knowledge of social media enables full time consulting work, and their connections can get hundreds and even thousands of people to network with other social media mavens.
Based on my own experiences and some private polling of the Twitter community, here is my informal list of the 10 most influential D.C. Twitterers – what you were promised by Politico and the LA Times.
David Almacy is currently Senior Vice President for Digital Public Affairs at Edelman, and he blogs about many aspects of social media, including its use in healthcare. But in a previous incarnation as George W. Bush’s White House Internet Director he networked communities of government employees.
Andy Carvin is best known as the social media maven making things happen at NPR, and became particularly well-known during presidential election season. But perhaps more importantly, he used social technology to selflessly mash up information for relevant communities about hurricane season.
Peter Corbett is CEO of iStrategyLabs, which creates interactive web experiences for clients as diverse as Rockstar energy drink and the DC government. But his influence in the community widens as founder of the Twin Tech event series, which networks thousands of people in the country’s largest technology community (yes, DC).
Chris Dorobek is anchor of The Daily Debrief on Federal News Radio 1500AM, where he concentrates on the intersection between government and technology. Formerly of the influential publication Federal Computer Week, Dorobek is an influencer in both old and new media communities.
Jill Foster is the editor of WomenGrowBusiness.com and a fixture in the DC social media scene. As co-founder of DC Media Makers, she throws giant events that bring together the communities of old and new media in a classy and exciting way.
Bob Gourley is a former chief technology officer of a US intelligence agency, and currently blogs at CTOvision.com and is a private consultant. His high-level connections in the tech community combined with his low-profile approach make big things happen under the radar.
Frank Gruber wears a number of hats, working for AOL among them. But he is also an influencer as co-founder of the national Tech Cocktail events series, which develops community socials, conferences, and opportunities for tech startups to present their products.
Geoff Livingston is the principal at Livingston Communications, where he consults corporate and non-profit clients on how to utilize social technologies to communicate with communities of customers. He is also the author of Now is Gone and runs the excellent event BlogPotomac.
Jim Long is the ultimate example of modesty. While his motto may be “I’m just a cameraman,” working with some of the biggest names at NBC he has an all-access pass – making him influential in the community. Meet the Press anchor David Gregory, among others, has learned about social media from Jim.
Nick O’Neill runs Social Times, which includes among other things the AllFacebook blog. Whereas most people think of Silicon Valley and New York City as the centers of technology news, Nick is breaking news from the social technology community right here in DC.