Skip to Content

Why London Comes Last in Social Media City Rankings

When it comes to social media activity, London props up the global league tables. But why?

When it comes to the world of social media, there are clear metrics for measuring popularity. On Twitter for example, the account with the largest following is @katyperry with 49,952,646 at the time of writing. That’s followed closely by @justinbieber on 49,167,914 and @BarackObama on 41,190,787. On Facebook, the most popular page (after Facebook itself) is Rihanna with 84,757,949 likes, followed by Eminem with 81,091,160 likes and Shakira with 80,501,539 likes.

It’s just as easy to measure the social media activity such as number of posts and so on and even to subdivide the searches by category such as cars, movie character or video game.

Now Agnes Mainka and pals at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany, have studied the social media services provided by the governing bodies of 31 major cities around the world that have hi-tech infrastructures, so-called Informational World Cities. That includes cities ranging from Amsterdam to Vienna by way of London and San Francisco.

So the obvious question is who comes out on top?

These guys measure the number of different types of social media account that each city publishes, the amount of activity on these accounts and the number of followers. They also look at the links to and from city social media accounts and their websites.

A number of cities stand out. Most cities concentrate on one social media service. But Barcelona, in Spain, is unusual because it uses a variety of different services to connect with its population. It publishes more than 300 tweets per month on Twitter, 70 picture per month on Flickr and almost 30 per month on Instagram.

By contrast, Paris is the most popular city with almost 700,000 Facebook likes. Hong Kong has the most Twitter followers: about 650,000 of them. While Shenzen in China and Munich in Germany both outstrip US powerhouses such as San Francisco and New York in the popularity stakes.

And Berlin is the most active city, publishing well over 500 tweets per month.

So it’s not so easy to put your finger on the city that tops the league tables for social media. But it’s straightforward to see who comes bottom.

The bad news for Cool Britannia is that its capital showpiece props up the tables on a number of metrics. London is the least active of the Informational World Cities in terms of number of posts/tweets/pictures etc. And has too few followers/likes etc to even feature on the list of most popular cities.

What isn’t clear, of course is whether this team has found all the social media accounts associated with the city. There could be plenty of activity that these guys haven’t found.

But if so, London’s social media sites must be particularly hard to find, given that the team has used the same techniques for all the cities in this study.

Perhaps London and its eccentric mayor, Boris Johnson, need to learn a little more about social media.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1401.4533 : Government and Social Media: A Case Study of 31 Informational World Cities

Keep Reading

Most Popular

conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other
conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other

Forget dating apps: Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love

Fed up with apps, people looking for romance are finding inspiration on Twitter, TikTok—and even email newsletters.

digital twins concept
digital twins concept

How AI could solve supply chain shortages and save Christmas

Just-in-time shipping is dead. Long live supply chains stress-tested with AI digital twins.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.