Branding, Influencing

Calgary’s Top 100 social media influencers

This list has been updated based on an expanded dataset.

See: An updated list of Calgary’s most followed social media people with the potential to influence you.


As a newish Calgarian, I’m always looking for ways to get to know the city better. What better way is there for a social media guy to get to know his new city than to seek out the most prominent online influencers?

So, that’s exactly what I’ve done and I’m sharing the results with you!

Top social media influencers in Calgary

Influencers are divided into two groups – individuals and organizations (view each group by clicking on tabs in spreadsheet). Scroll right or left to view additional information. Notes on the methodology used to compile this list is detailed below.

See: An updated list of Calgary’s most followed social media people with the potential to influence you.

Methodology for identifying influencers

Now, before we get too obsessed with who’s on the list and who’s not, I want to explain the methodology I used to compile this list.

First, I relied on a commercially available social media analytics tool which offers a powerful engine for crunching large volumes of social media data. The software compiles a list of online influencers that frequently communicate on topics related to “Calgary” and then looks at the inter-relationships among these people.

The software ranks influencers based on three scores:

  • Insider score counts how many people on the insiders list are following each individual insider;
  • Listening score counts how many of the insiders any one person is following; and
  • Emergence score is a calculation of how quickly someone is rising among the insiders.

Second, I separated the results into individuals and corporate accounts. In most cases, this is easy to do, but there are some edge cases. The reason I separate individuals from businesses is because I think there are some important differences in how they use social media. Without getting too involved in this discussion here, the difference comes down to personal versus corporate branding and I’m particularly interested in how the former can be used to build influence online. I’m also interested in how personal brand can be leveraged more effectively by corporate brands to advance their business interests.

My point is that this is not a definitive list of cool people in Calgary. (Well, except @Nenshi. He is definitively the coolest nerd in town.) While there is some solid underlying data analysis, there are also some assumptions that inform the list. To be sure, there are other valid ways to measure influencers in Calgary – or for any other topic. I’m sure there are people that aren’t on this list and could be and vice versa. And if this list is run again in 3 months, it will likely change.

How can influencer lists be useful?

Despite all these qualifications, influencer lists like this one can be very useful. Here are some of the ways one might use such a list:

1. Stay informed – Say you want to stay up to date on key issues being discussed within the city and about the city, this is a good place to start.

2. Get known – Say you want to become better known within the city, this is a good list of people to pay attention to. Because the best way to get attention is to give attention – to pay it forward, as it were.

3. Engage the community – Say you want to get input, have a public discussion or get the word out, these are key people to start with.

4. Become an influencer – Say you want to get on this list and lists like this one, then a good place to start is to invest time in building relationships with these people (and a few hundred others).

Observations on who is an influencer in Calgary

In reviewing this list, I was struck a few things – and some of these are merely personal observations.

Of course, Mayor Nenshi is the top insider on this list and arguably a Calgary institution. His personable and engaging style, both online and off, is a model for political and business leaders everywhere. When our mayor tweets, this city listens.

Other local politicians are similarly embracing social as a platform to communicate with their constituents and the community. This is becoming table-stakes for every elected official.

There are a lot of media personalities on the list, both broadcast and print media. This is also not surprising as journalists and radio/television personalities have a built-in audience they can leverage. The smartest among them realize that they have much to gain by building a following that allows them to directly interact with their audience, unmediated by their employers’ platforms. This is the real disruption that is underway in the media.

Some local business owners recognize that contributing actively and visibly to community discussions is good for business. Anyone who makes this list isn’t Tweeting out marketing messages on a regular basis, but instead sharing their passion for their community and what they do. We do business with people we know, like and trust and I for one will be checking out some of the business owners on this list.

Finally, there are a few leaders of public-serving organizations on the list, but fewer than there should be. Non-profit organizations have so much to gain from active social media strategies networking, yet not enough of them are serious about developing and implementing a digital engagement plan.

I welcome any and all feedback and/or suggestions for who could have been included in this list.

I have also created a Twitter list that you can subscribe to with 250 persons and organizations making up both of the lists above.

Please share and feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss any of these ideas in relation to your own online presence of that of your organization or business.

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    1. All the non-individual social accounts are listed on the “organizations” tab at the bottom of the embedded spreadsheet. This includes any business or organization that Tweets as a “company”, according to its Twitter profile.

    1. The software scans social accounts and identifies “insiders” by the number of other “insiders” that follow each person. Some anomalies and omissions are due to a small data set, so I am rerunning the analysis on a larger data set and will post revised data soon.

  1. Thanks Jay. Solid list and equally solid advice.

    Interesting thing, that Insider Score. On the one hand, it’s great to see interaction (assumed) between members of the community. On the other hand, if a clique were to form, free thinking can go out the window should a leader emerge.

    On the topic of Influence, I’m sure you’ll agree that media personalities are going to come out on top every time. The contests they run and the platforms they sit atop are so massive, the common man cannot hope to compete.

    I’d consider splitting that list so it’s apples to apples. Let the money compete with the money.

    My personal definition of influencer is the person standing next to me talking up their new car or iPhone or a good/bad service they received recently.

    Curious what yours is?

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Randy.

      You’re right to suggest that the insider score is a bit like a circle of friends, an “echo chamber” as another person suggested to me in conversation. The algorithm casts a wide circle, then starts to look at who is following who within that circle. I’m not suggesting this is objectively the only or best way to rank people online, but it is a useful way because it quickly shows us who is on many people’s social media radar.

      As for influence and audience, I agree with your assertion about media personalities. They have platforms to reach larger audiences that many of us. But so do politicians who become media personalities by virtue of their jobs.

      We can also agree that social media audience size is not the only or the best measure of influence. In fact, what is/was so interesting about Klout was that it took into consideration the audience of those who followed you when assigning an “influence score”. In other words, if you had a small audience, but that audience was made up of people who themselves had large audiences, then you would have a higher influence score. I did not include Klout score as part of this ranking, but I still personally use the Klout plugin that displays each user’s Klout score next to their avatar when I’m on I find it interesting as another data point for determining online influence.

      The definition of an influencer is going to vary from person to person and I think yours makes sense, since influence doesn’t have to equate with largest audience.

      What I like to remind people is that there is no absolute list of influencers. There are only lists relative to the assumptions made in compiling it.

      My analysis of the data is only one approach. Sometimes the best list of influencers is the list of 10 people that an influential person in your world suggests you check out.

      Hope that helps. 😉

  2. I admit that I am more annoyed by this list than anything. I am annoyed by the “Congratulations on being on a list of people!” that happened. I am annoyed by the “Why aren’t I on this list of people?” that also followed. Mostly, I am annoyed by the list itself.

    Please note, this is not annoyance with you, Jay. You’re perfectly entitled to make a list of people, whether it’s people you think are funny, people you think are jerks, and people you think are influential. With that said, so many read into the list as an “official” list of influential Calgarians and ascribed some sort of value to it, where it inherently carries none.

    My big concerns about the list are as follows.

    1. It’s a list of people that were selected based upon some kind of a metric. None of these metrics seem to have any bearing on actual influence. The influence is assumed, not measured. The title of the list as Calgary’s Top 100 Social Media Influencers is not accurate. At best, it’s a list of 100 social media accounts originating in Calgary, who communicate frequently about Calgary, and also tend to follow other such accounts. At it’s very core, it makes the logical error of begging the question.

    2. Given the inaccurate title of the post, many people ignored that the list begged the question. They then transferred the false value of the list to themselves. That is to say, being on this list caused some to get a self-worth bump as though the list indeed was actually a measure of influence when in fact there is no such measurement. The self-congratulation was a little bit silly. “Congratulations, people who were named on a list of people by some guy!” No offence to you, Jay. I’m sure you’re a super guy. But being on a list of people made by a super guy makes it no more valuable to me than not being on a list made by someone else.

    3. It appears many seemed to ignore its very specific topic. That is, whatever software was used determined “a list of online influencers that frequently communicate on topics related to Calgary”. I perceived negative reactions from some as a result of not being on the list. The thing is, the vast majority of my followers are Calgarians. That’s not the case for many who didn’t make the list. They may have followers from a much wider geographic location. Even if we do accept that this is a list of Top Social Media Influencers–a premise which I don’t accept–it’s important to qualify that it’s a list of people who are influential about Calgary topics, which is a further refinement still.

    4. This list is a selection of individuals who made one person’s list based upon dubious metrics with a begged question. This ain’t gospel. Again, Jay, I have no issue with you having made the list and this isn’t a personal indictment. It’s more the idea that anyone on or off this list would consider it to be anything more than what it is, a list of people. The reaction–good or bad–should be whether someone is or is not on the list of people. “Oh, I’m on some guy’s list of people” and “Oh, I’m not on some guy’s list of people” is a much more appropriate reaction. And when perceived as such, will hopefully counter the self-congratulation and disappointment. Really, what does anyone care about being on someone else’s list of people? (On re-read before posting, it appears my point 4 is really just an extension of point 2… but I’m too lazy to go back and combine the two points)

    I think it’s really interesting the range of reactions to the list. It’s especially interesting, I think, on how it appears to have triggered in some a self-worth bump (either up or down). And even moreso, it’s interesting how this bump occurs as a result of a list where it’s plainly obvious that it does not measure what it purports to measure, but they allow that to influence their feelings about themselves nonetheless. (There’s the word again… influence… interesting.)

    In closing, Jay, thanks for making an interesting list of people. I disagree that anyone can come to any conclusion based upon the selection criteria that this is a list of influencers. It’s a list of people who talk about Calgary, are in Calgary, and sometimes talk to each other. To frame it as anything different than that would be to draw false conclusions.

    1. Thank you, John, for such a polite smack down. 🙂 No, really. I appreciate you trying to separate your feelings about lists from your feelings about me personally.

      I really don’t think we are that far apart in our views.

      People do make too much of lists. They thank me for including them on the list. They publically praise the others on the list, pleased to be in such “good company”. Many people do interpret being selected for the list as recognition of some kind of achievement. Some of that is social media etiquette; much of it is human nature and the desire for status and recognition.

      Yet I think I am clear in the article accompanying the list: this is not a definitive list of cool people in Calgary. The list is a product of all sorts of decisions, some of which I made and others made by the software (which, in case you’re interested, is called Little Bird). And this list would have been different a year ago and will be different in 6 months. I could compile a list about a specific topic that is characteristic to Calgary and get a very different list.

      But here is where we seem to disagree: I think this list is useful, regardless of its biases. It is useful because it reveals to me (a relative newcomer to Calgary) some of the top online influencers in the city. It might also be of value to any number of other individuals, businesses or organizations that are interested in identifying 100, 200 or 500 of the most digitally connected people in this wonderful city.

      Now, we could debate until the cows come home about what constitutes an influencer. On that topic, my mind is open because influence describes a relationship between two people – the influencer and the influenced. In fact, I would say that the influenced decide who the influencers are.

      Social networks are something of a proxy for the influenced/influencer decision. Not always a strong proxy, but a proxy nonetheless. The number of followers calculated within a circle of insiders is a metric that I think can be used to, at the very least, identify a list of potential influencers.

      For me, these 100 people are a starting point for determining who are the most digitally savvy, online influencers in this city. Many, many other interesting and influential people occupy the positions from 101 to 1,000 and beyond. Being at the top if the list is partly a statistical artifact and potentially a reflection of influence.

      By compiling and publishing the list, I have already identified and followed a number of people with the potential to influence me – you included. And I’ve been contacted by a few people who should have been on the list and were omitted. (An updated list is in the works.)

      For me, this has been an amazing process of discovering some of the most connected people talking about Calgary online.

      See, in the end, we’re not so far apart. 😉

      1. Thanks for the very thorough reply, Jay. You’re correct in saying that we’re not that far apart.

        I think you nailed the explanation of the list near the end of your comment where you said, “By compiling and publishing the list, I have already identified and followed a number of people with the potential to influence me”. It is a list of potential influencers. In my opinion, there is a very wide gulf between that and the title of “Calgary’s Top 100 social media influencers”. The one that you used is certainly a more compelling headline, though I still think that you sacrificed a very material degree of meaning in favour of laconism.

        I do concur that it has the potential to be a useful list. If one wished to seek out those in Calgary who have a large following, and among that following are others with large followings, then this list achieves that. I am compelled to wonder why, though. I grant that I know little about social media marketing, so perhaps there are many people and organizations who wish to know such things. In the end, I’m not particularly concerned about the why, as the use of the potential uses for the list are not in either my experience or interests.

        You were indeed clear in your post that it’s not a definitive cool kid list. That content, however, was in conflict with the more generalized and less informative headline. Now, that certainly was a very compelling and Buzzfeed-y headline, and I’ll bet it got a lot of clicks. Though I don’t think you can completely wash your hands of the headline by saying “well it was explained in the post.” I have no doubt that you were aware of the nature of the headline when you wrote it and cognizant of the clicks it would surely generate.

        Ultimately, the influencer here is you. And I find that very interesting. With a single post, you managed to set up yourself as an authority on Calgary influencers, generated tremendous chatter (if the share count on the post is accurate), and created a whole lot of talk and even derivative works by others of their own cool kids. So well done on that!

        Glad we could have this chat. Let’s go get a beer some time.

  3. I have met most of the people on this Calgary’s Top 100 social media influencers list over a wine tasting event. They were fascinating and friendly people to meet.

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