The Data Science Influencers: The Tops in Terms of "Insider Score" According to Influence Mapping Tool LittleBird

Click on the images to see details on the influencers. Each square links to a Webpage that represents a row of data from a spreadsheet (you can see the table structure in the 'Factsheet'). Image quality is low because they are Twitter profile photos. 

The 123 Heaviest Influencers in Data Science

Data Science is a hot sector. Like most geeky memes, the hot-bed of social media is on Twitter. Loads of companies are launching in the space. But who are the real influencers? And how do they behave on Twitter? We turned to Marshall Kirkpatrick's influencer mapping and marketing tool LittleBird to pull in a list and do some analysis. It's getting rave reviews as a way to gain insights into influencers in networks that are not obvious from simple Twitter counts. 

Unlike simple follower counts, LittleBird builds a true influencer network map by measuring how often influencers retweet other influencers and the density of network activity. This goes into what they call their "Influencer Score." It's not a perfect methodology but its relatively solid as a way of assigning contextual relevance values and true influencer status rather than just counting Tweets. 

To set LittleBird up to run an influencer graph for your topic, you need to feed it a handful of accounts you know are influencers in the area you are focused on. We put in six Twitter handles that we knew were serious influencers (including Hilary Mason, KDNuggets and DataScienceCentral) and then set LittleBird to work doing the network analysis and metrics. LittleBird spat back 123 influencers from all over the world.* It was a fabulous list with tons of room for interesting analysis. So let's do it. 

Top 10 Data Science Insiders: Hilary, KD Nuggets and Kaggle Lead the Pack

Among the Top 10 Data Science influencers, only two rated an Insider Score score of 50 or above. Influencers were relatively well distributed by type including practitioners, company accounts, media sources, a VC and even one data science-focused NGO. 

North American Accounts Dominate The Most Influential Influencers

We looked at Twitter accounts that LittleBird assigned an Insider Score of 10 or greater. 84% of them were in North America. Europe and EU-region countries capture 12%. The upshot? Data Science influence is centered squarely in North America. 

Distribution: 50 Top Data Science Influencers by Continent

The Long Tail of Insider Influencer

When mapped in a distribution Insider Scores among influencers show a classic "Long Tail" with a small number of highly influential accounts, a slim middle of moderately influential accounts, and then a long spate of accounts with significantly less influence. In fact, a good portion of the accounts actually an "Insider Score" of 0. 

Insider Score of Twitter Handle datacards

The Top 5 Influencers Accounted for Over 50% of Total Follower Count

Is There a Strong Correlation Between Length of Tenure on Twitter and Insider Score?  No.

Want to try this yourself on Silk? Sign up (it's free) then download the dataset and build it yourself. 

You can upload the data back into your own Silk or cut-and-paste the contents of the spreadsheet into our data importer window. Let us know what you think!

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* Caveat: The rankings of individuals displayed here is potentially non-replicable because Little Bird will retrieve different influencers depending on the starting points for its network mapping. That said, there is a high degree of confidence that any credible rankings of data science influencers would have a significant overlap with the data here. 

Thanks to Little Bird for helping with their data.