Who follows the ONS twitter feed?

The following blog post is written by Gareth Pryce.

As part of our social media review, we trialed some social media analytics software and found out a little bit more about our twitter followers.


Of all ONS followers, 42% are male, 20% female and 38% are classed as “unknown” (unknown” could include some organisational accounts). Of those that could be categorised, 67% of accounts were male, with 33% female.

Of all ONS followers 17,780 (11%) had their location visible. Of those, 9,308 were classed as their location being London (52%). Other popular specified locations of ONS followers were Manchester (4%), Glasgow (2%), Edinburgh (2%) and Cardiff (2%).



We wanted to understand how active our twitter followers are. This can help us know how likely people are to engage with our tweets and help us set our expectations. We measured this by how many followers tweeted within a specific time frame:

  • 32% of ONS followers tweeted in the last 24 hours.
  • 48% of ONS followers tweeted in the last week.
  • 58% of ONS followers tweeted in the last month.
  • 69% of ONS followers tweeted in the last 3 months.


We also looked at how many tweets they send per day:

  • Almost all ONS followers (96%) tweeted up to 5 times a day.
  • 4% of ONS followers tweeted greater than 5 times per day.


Organisations or people

SocialRank allowed us to find out if most of our followers are individual accounts or twitter accounts for organisations. The data showed that 75% (or 120,700) of ONS followers are represented by individual accounts, and 25% by organisation accounts. 114 individual accounts that follow @ONS have over 100,000 followers.   Just over 6,000 of these individuals have over 1,000 followers.

Comparatively, Organisation accounts are represented by 25% of followers, but nearly 2,400 of these had over 1,000, with 48 having over 100,000.


Accounts of over 100,000 followers are therefore represented as a whole by 162 accounts, or 0.1% of our total following. 8,400 accounts (5.2%) have more than 1,000 followers or more.


Of those accounts of 1,000 followers or more, just 9% are verified.  Account verification in twitter marks a profile with an official blue tick. To have a blue tick, you must be a highly sought user such as a musician, actor, sports personality or brand. This blue tick shows that a twitter account is both high profile and genuine. 99.5% of ONS followers are non-verified accounts and 0.5% of accounts are verified. Verified accounts had an average following of around 66443. Unverified accounts had an average following of around 524. This helps us to understand how influential our followers are on twitter.



The words people use to describe themselves in their twitter bio suggest why they use the social networking site and could indicate their profession. The word “views” is the most common word in followers’ profile bio. This suggests many profiles include a statement such as: “Views are my own, not necessarily those of my employer”.

Other popular bio words include:

  • Business (7%)
  • Student (5%)
  • Health (5%)
  • Research (4%)
  • Politics (4%)
  • University (4%)


The verified accounts with more than 1,000 followers had interests that were classified (by SocialRank) as follows:


  • Business – 192 (40%)
  • Social – 38 (8%)
  • Finance – 53 (11%)
  • Government – 121 (25%)
  • Health – 37 (8%)
  • Politics – 243 (51%)
  • Music – 45 (9%)

Of approximately 3051 unique unverified accounts of more than 1,000 followers, their interests were classified as:

  • Business – 1341 (44%)
  • Finance – 298 (10%)
  • Government – 485 (16%)
  • Health – 430 (14%)
  • Music – 434 (14%)
  • Politics – 758 (25%)
  • Social – 634 (21%)

At a glance, the top Verified accounts tend to include media outlets, high profile journalists and Government organisations or agencies. The analytics show that verified accounts are most interested in Politics, Business and Government.

Unverified accounts are most interested in Business, Politics and Social content. The top unverified accounts include trusts, charities, think tanks, lobby groups and local Government accounts.

This shows that, although many accounts that follow @ONS share similar interests, there may be differences in perspective.


This data was correct as of 9 September 2015.

The @ONS account, at the time of extracting the data for the above findings, had approximately 159,000 followers, varying slightly across different tools.



It’s important to note that interests are generated automatically by a tool that was trialled during this analysis and we cannot provide further depth to these categories at this stage.

The percentage interests also do not add up to 100% as some of the accounts have more than 1 interest attached to their profile.  The percentages represent the interest as a percentage of unique users.