A few days ago I posted a piece which looked at the top 20 tech writers followed most by other UK based tech writers. It generated a great deal of interest and comment and I had numerous requests to do a similar analysis for writers based in the USA. So here it is.
The team at Apollo Research identified nearly 3,000 US based writers who have written about technology in the last 12 months and then found out who they follow on social media. It is clear that technology writers in the US have similar preferences to their UK counterparts, i.e. the group they follow more than any other is technology writers. They also have a big interest in news feeds (which I’ll cover later) and, similarly to their UK colleagues they like a bit of comedy and politics.
The chart below shows the 30 tech writers that they follow the most. The ‘reach’ figure is the number of US based tech writers that follow each of them. For example, Kara Swisher is followed by 376 writers which is 13.1 per cent of the sample.
It could be argued that these figures are an indication of the respect with which these writers are held amongst their peer group. Each of the 3,000 or so writers in the sample have a free choice to follow who they want and the writers in this chart are the ones that, collectively, they have chosen to follow more than any others. This is the top 30 from a very long list of technology writers.
The first three Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg and David Pogue are good examples of journalists that have been writing about the technology industry for many years and by building a presence on social media have not only been able to maintain their popularity from their traditional reader-base, but have also extended their reach to a much wider audience.
Five of the thirty in this list write for re/code, and yet the news site itself does not actually make it into to the top 20 media (see chart below) which lends support to the discussion that some of these writers are becoming brands in their own right and, in some cases, transcending the media source that gives them their platform.
To illustrate this point further, if we combine the followers of the five writers in the top 30 that write for re/code, between them they reach a total of 20 per cent of all the US based tech writers in the sample. However, re/code as a news feed only reaches 8.5 per cent of the writers – a case of the sum of the parts being greater than the whole, or just that tech writers prefer to spend time reading what their peers have to say on social media rather than looking through a list of breaking tech related stories?
For PR executives the implications of this analysis probably doesn’t need stating…but I’ll do it anyway. It’s an obvious point, but receiving a product or company mention from any of these writers means that you are likely to end up in the news feed of hundreds of other writers which, providing the mention is not damaging, will favourably boost the awareness/recognition of your brand.
Where else do US tech writers go to get their information/entertainment?
The chart below lists the top influencers amongst US based technology writers excluding the writers themselves. The pattern is obvious - tech writers follow the news. However, given how often CIOs, CTOs, CEOs and industry analysts are quoted in articles written by these writers it’s somewhat surprising that Bill Gates and Elon Musk are the only eminent technology people in the list.
It’s also noticeable how few of the media sources in the list are technology related illustrating, perhaps, that whilst they may be technology writers they are essentially news people at heart.
Bill Gates is still a big draw amongst US tech writers although the momentum is definitely with the highly compelling Elon Musk, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Musk overtakes Gates in the next few months.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that there are 21 on this list and that’s because we sneaked in The Onion to show you that it reaches more US tech writers than less made-up news feeds such as The Economist and Mashable. Stephen Colbert is also popular and if he appeared on this list (we didn’t include celebrities, comedians, musicians, politicians or sportspeople in the chart) then he would fit neatly between Bill Gates and Mashable.
The only other area that seems to be of collective interest to US based tech writers is politics. Barack Obama is comfortably the most followed with Hillary and Bill Clinton in the top 5, but we have yet to see any significant emergence of any of the GOP candidates although Donald Trump’s following is growing. At the end of December 2015 he was at 3.5 per cent he is now reaching 4.6 per cent, showing that interest in his campaign is accelerating.
So there you have it, a bit of insight into what US based tech writers like, I hope you found it interesting. This project might be worth doing again in 6 months’ time to see what, if anything has changed.
If you have any questions regarding this analysis then please either leave a comment or drop me an email: richard [ at ] apolloresearch.com.