Measuring Ecosystem Popularity Through Twitter Follower Count, Growth

Donnie Berkholz of the analysis firm RedMonk recently posted an article about observing tech trends by monitoring book sales. He saw a resurgence of interest in Java, a slowdown of interest in Microsoft languages (except PowerShell), upward movement in Python, and declining interesting in SQL.

While on Twitter the other day, I was looking at the account of a major cloud computing provider, and wondered if their “follower count” was high or low compared to their peers. Although follower count is hardly a definitive metric for influence or popularity, the growth in followers can tell us a bit about where developer mindshare is moving.

So, here’s a coarse breakdown of some leading cloud platforms and programming languages/frameworks and both their total follower counts (in bold) and growth in 2012. These numbers are accurate as of July 17,  2012.

Cloud Platforms

  1. Google App Engine64,463. The most followers of any platform, which was a tad surprising given the general grief that is directed here. They experienced a  27% growth in followers for 2012 so far.
  2. Windows Azure 44,662. I thought this number was fairly low given the high level of activity in the account. This account has experienced slow, steady follower growth of 21% since start of 2012.
  3. Cloud Foundry26,906. The hype around Cloud Foundry appears justified as developers have flocked to this platform. They’ve seen jagged, rapid follower growth of 283% in 2012.
  4. Amazon Web Services17,801. I figured that this number would be higher, but they are seeing a nice 58% growth in followers since the beginning of the year.
  5. Heroku16,162. They have slower overall follower growth than at 42%, but a much higher total count.
  6. Force.com9,746. Solid growth with a recent spike putting them at 75% growth since the start of the year.

Programming Languages / Frameworks

  1. Java60,663. The most popular language to follow on Twitter, they experienced 35% follower growth in 2012.
  2. Ruby on Rails29,912. This account has seen consistent growth by 28% this year.
  3. Java (Spring)15,029. Moderate 30% growth this year.
  4. Node.js12,812. Not surprising that this has some of the largest growth in 2012 with 160% more followers this year.
  5. ASP.NET7,956. I couldn’t find good growth statistics for this account, but I was surprised at the small size of followers.

Takeaways? The biggest growth in Twitter followers this year belongs to Cloud Foundry and Node.js. I actually expected many of these numbers to be higher given that many of them are relatively chatty accounts. Maybe developers don’t instinctively follow platforms/languages, but rather follow interesting people who happen to use those platforms.

Thoughts? Any surprises there?

Author: Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management at Google Cloud. He’s also an instructor at Pluralsight, a frequent public speaker, the author of multiple books on software design and development, and a former editor plus former 12-time Microsoft MVP for cloud. As Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management, Richard leads an organization of Google Cloud developer advocates, engineers, platform builders, and outbound product managers that help customers find success in their cloud journey. Richard maintains a regularly updated blog on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.

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