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India's top Twitterers

Forget celebrity bloggers. These Indians are followed by people of substance worldwide

The day we email Chethan R, he is amongst the world's top 100 twitterers No 92, to be specific. Barack Obama isn't in the top 100; neither is Oprah Winfrey. They may both have more followers than Chethan but a complex value-based ranking system launched by Twitter says Chethan's followers have more value than Obama's. Quality triumphs over quantity.

By the weekend, 21-year-old Chethan has already become No 36 in the world and No 1 in India. Meanwhile, other names we'd pulled up on the top 10 have already been shuffled up and down the top hundred ladder too many times. It keeps changing depending on how much you're tweeting and also how often your tweets are retweeted and by whom. Which means that 13-year-old Monik Pamecha from Mumbai who was in our original top 10 list from India, has been nudged off India's top 50. But his is a great story, so we included it anyway.

There are many grading systems. Some look just at numbers. But Twitter Grader looks at the quality of those numbers. US-based NRI Dharmesh Shah, a serial software entrepreneur who created the Twitter Grader, says, "Simply following a bunch of people (just so some follow back) doesn't help much with increasing your grade.

Twitter Grader rewards people that can "engage" others. It encourages "good" behaviour by boosting their
grade when they say something useful/interesting. Quality always matters more than quantity. Good grading algorithms take this into account. Twitter Grader ranks you on how many people are following you, and how powerful/ authoritative they are."

So the road to being amongst the world's top twitterers is littered with talent, generosity and freebies. Chethan, India's No 1 twitterer, knows this well. He says, "I try to provide my followers with value. I don't tweet about my breakfast, lunch and dinner..." What he does is create web designs that people love. He is happy to share. So is he Mr Popular? "It's not a popularity contest," he protests. He does have 19,000 plus followers though. And gets a lot of hits even if they are mostly work-related. But which 21-year-old wouldn't want that?

Chethan R is No. 36 in the world and No. 1 in India

Chethan, from Manipal in Karnataka, is a freelance web designer and web-based solutions provider. He says, "I get most of my project clients through Twitter." Chethan has been hired by a few British designers for feedback and to provide support to their teams and is hobnobbing with the online world's celeb web designers; this makes him a geek, being online all day.

Offline, he's like any aam aadmi, says Chethan. Of course, as this story will show, the aam aadmi online is a very different story these days. Gone are the days of covert chatroom operations. Being a geek no longer means a sleazy net avatar. These twitterers are all young some just 13 years old. And they don't get their hijinks from talking dirty online. Instead, they have channeled their creativity into online social media, reading voraciously, offering up free web apps, creating web-based solutions and providing the same to their followers.


Mumbai's youngest Twitterers

'My goal is to study law'
Farrhad Acidwalla, 15 No 45 in India, 6,244 followers
Entrepreneur and blogger

Acidwalla's just finished his ICSE from Bombay Scottish. He's active on a blog that gets 25-38,000 monthly visits. He is also part of a community for website owners from around the world. But before all this, Acidwalla was just another boy wasting his time with games. Then he read an article on creating websites — and within a week, he had his own up. He continued his journey online. And won his parents over by getting good grades too. Life offline is just as hectic. Acidwalla is passionate about aeromodelling, playing the guitar, reading and writing.
'I love using gadgets'

Monik Pamecha, 13
Ranked 10,162 worldwide, has 15,087 followers
Blogger and social media enthusiast
Pamecha goes to Lilavatibai Podar High School. He's been online for about four years now. He likes to blog about technology and also designs websites. One of these is iluvtech.org, a social networking website. "I love using gadgets," he admits. "I am also interested in Online Marketing, especially Social Media and I am running campaigns for a few companies. It's just a start; I hope to make it big later." He's thankful his parents give him the freedom to be online as often as he likes. He says, "Everyone in my family is curious about what I am doing..." When not posting, Pamecha plays soccer and table tennis.

Mumbai ranks 31 out of top 50 tweeting world cities
India is in the top 5 countries by sheer number of Twitter users, behind the US, UK, Canada and Australia but way ahead of others like China
Half of the people on Twitter have NO followers
The average user tweets .97 times per day
Number of tweets peaks on Thursday and plummets on Saturday

All data and ranking from Twitter Grader, which has information on over 4.5 million Twitter profiles as of June 2009

'One day I got a tweet from my wife to pick up our kid...'
Kalyana Sundaram, No 3 India, 37,370 followers
27-year-old CEO of a Bangalore company that specializes in web and mobile development

Sundaram has been building his company's portfolio through Twitter. Life offline has followed him online. He says, "One day I got a tweet from my wife to pick up our kid from school, another to buy some groceries while back from work. But it's also a place to exchange love, affection, excuses and stay connected."
 
'Offline, you can't "unfollow" someone if you want to'
Mani Karthik, No 5 India, 10,011 followers
Professional blogger and SEO (search engine optimizer) and social media consultant from Cochin, Kerala
Karthik quit his job about four years ago. Now, Facebook and Twitter help him connect. "It has helped build my brand and given me the chance to reach out to people across the globe. Twitter keeps you more "on the edge" with a focus on content and not necessarily who's giving it to you."

'My family does not understand what I do'
Paritosh Sharma, No 18 India, 4,532 followers
A 24-year-old social media evangelist; a consultant for online marketing. Also the youngest Indian to be
featured by the NASSCOM EMERGE community
Delhi boy Paritosh Sharma started out as a software testing engineer at a leading IT company in Bangalore. He chucked it to return to Delhi and become an entrepreneur. "I had no money in my pocket and could not afford to fall back on my family," he says. The social media scene was kicking in then and this helped him survive. He started working as a consultant and soon got invitations to guest lecture at universities across India like Symbiosis Pune, BITS Pilani, Amity, Jamia, IMI and IMT Ghaziabad. Paritosh is now helping others market their brand too.

'I promote my photography'
Priyanka Sachar, No 22 India, 2,086 followers
A Delhi-based project manager in a software organisation, she is now known online as Twilight Fairy. She is also a photographer, blogger and founder of "Delhi bloggers bloc"

Priyanka is mad about photography and has used social media to further her passion and engage people with it. She says, "I use social media to promote my photography which is also a partial profession I have, since I do exhibitions, sell fine art prints."

'Twitter is great for quick straw polls'
Kiruba Shankar, No 24 India, 22,787 followers

With 14 years of internet experience, Shankar is also the founding member of Wikipedia's India chapter. He also teaches in colleges and writes tech columns
Kiruba Shankar is authoring a book on a phenomenon that has already been talked about much in the west: crowdsourcing. His book, titled Crowdsourcing Tweet, is about the wisdom of crowds. He says, "I asked in Twitter for contributions to the book and was amazed at the kind of response I received.  Twitter is a wonderful sounding board. And great for quick straw polls."

'Blogs and Twitter also encourage conversation'
Prem Panicker, No 32 India, 1,509 followers

Panicker is a journalist, and has worked with Indian Post, Mid Day, and Sunday Observer. He is currently Editorial Director, India Abroad (Rediff's New York-based newspaper)
Panicker is an old hand at blogging. And while he'd registered for Twitter quite a while back, he began using it only after the terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26/11. He says, "There was considerable nonsense on TV and I used Twitter as a means of filtering out the rubbish and getting facts and pertinent information out there."
Panicker is a voracious reader, and like all popular twitterers shares interesting links with people who read him. "People read, get interested; in turn, they send you links to things you might otherwise miss. Blogs and Twitter also encourage conversation..."

'I am connected...'
Shashi Tharoor, ranks 4,800 worldwide, moves in and out of India's top 50, 14,125 followers
Author, former UN Under-Secretary General, now MOS for External Affairs, Govt of India

Shashi Tharoor was one of the first Indians to catch media attention for his tweets. Says Tharoor, "Twitter is a good way of engaging with a wide variety of people, sharing thoughts and receiving feedback. It takes me only 15 to 25 minutes a day to post my updates, but it helps me stay connected to a broad public. Thanks to the Blackberries I carry with me everywhere, I am connected to the web throughout the day. I get and respond to some 400 emails a day and occasionally check cricket scores as well."

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