Least Squares

just trying to minimize error

Top Twitter Authors for Topic ‘God’

Posted by Scott on August 20, 2010

Yesterday I tweeted about an NPR piece on the neuroscience of religious experience. This got me wondering about people who tweet about ‘god’, so I ran ‘god’ through this algorithm we’ve been working on for finding topical authorities in Twitter. Here are the results, along with a few observations.

Notes/Caveats: This was computed using one ‘authoritativeness’ method (developed largely by Aditya Pal, with a bit of chiming in from me). There are many ways to do this, each of which would likely yield a different result. Without going into the details, our method is not a graph-based solution (though we do incorporate some graph features), it looks only at the most recent 5 days of Twitter, and does not include latent topics. So, if a person hasn’t tweeted the word ‘god’ in the last 5 days, they won’t be included. Also, people use the word ‘god’ all the time in non-religious ways and thus you end up with people like @stewie_griffin and @chazsom3ers on the list, who I simply ignore.


  1. RevRunWisdom
  2. chazsom3ers
  3. VanNessVanWu
  4. MaxLucado
  5. ihatequotes
  6. jaesonma
  7. CSLewisDaily
  8. UGOdotcom
  9. RickWarren
  10. Stewie_Griffin
  11. TheLoveStories
  12. DaRealAmberRose
  13. JoyceMeyer
  14. DeepakChopra
  15. FunnyOrFact

Some (very non-scientific) observations

In terms of basic numbers, these folks (ignoring the couple of non-religious accounts) have an average of 257k followers, ranging from 12k to 1.3m, though most are in the 100-200k range (removing the person with 1.3m followers lowers the average to 127k). They have an average of 19.3 tweets containing the word ‘god’ over the past 5 days, ranging from 7 to 53, though most are very close to 20 (or 4 per day).

The results seem to fall into a couple of categories, but in general, the dominant trend is around the sharing of inspirational quotes and words of wisdom or encouragement, with a healthy dose of business-oriented media savvy throw in. People like @joycemeyer are clearly leveraging Twitter.

Religious hipsters/musicians

@RevRunWisdom (Run from Run DMC; 1.3M followers)  is the number one result and really falls more in the category of what I snarkily call the ‘self-help section of Twitter’ (see below). He mainly posts quotes, using lots of hashtags like #anxietyfree and #powerprayer. There’s little in the way of personal content, and you get the feeling he uses Twitter kind of like preaching – it’s about conveying a messge, not about his personal life. Overall though, he’s a celeb who feels very ‘real’.

Also very hip looking, but much less of a celeb is @jaesonma (12k followers): If you click through to his webpage, it’s about ‘God, Culture, Mission.’ From what I can tell, this is a slick, hip, social media-savvy, way to spread his message. @VanNessVanWu (27k followers) fall into this same category: contemporary religious soul musician.

Ministers The business of god

This is interesting. If the democratization of preaching afforded by Twitter lets the religious hipster get 12k followers, how about actual ministers? Oops, we don’t know because there aren’t any on the list, really. The closest is @MaxLucado (100k followers) who is a minister, but also an author, and whose tweets seem to swing between insprirational quotes and updates about his book tour. @RickWarren (“Location: I live in the State of Grace”; 136k followers) runs pastors.com. His tweets are mainly inspirational quotes, and the whole thing looks very well-meaning, though very aware of the power of Twitter to reach a large audience. Similarly, @JoyceMeyer clearly uses Twitter in a very media/business savvy manner, with lots of promotion of her inspiration empire. Finally, we have Deepak Chopra, though somewhat surprisingly he only has 265k followers (@RevRunWisdom has 5 times as many).

Reading these folk’s tweets makes me wonder about the balance of spreading inspiration and marketing a business. My guess is this approach is super successful: people follow for the inspriation and also get updates on tour info, promotions, etc. It seems well intentioned, but there’s no doubt it’s also a business.

The self-help section of Twitter

Just like at your local Barnes and Noble, there is quite the demand for inspiration and encouragement on Twitter, and the character limit seems perfect for quote sharing. Authors like @cslewisdaily, @ihatequotes, and @thelovestoreis (“Location: Your heart”) do virtually nothing but quote sharing. I’d love to know what percentage of Twitter is quote sharing.


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