10 surprising superstars of Twitter

Story highlights

The majority of the most-followed Twitter accounts are singers and other celebrities

But less-famous users have amassed big followings as well

Rival Facebook has Twitter's 44th most popular account

Horoscopes, a queen and Lord Voldemort also have huge followings

CNN  — 

Everybody knows the big-time accounts on Twitter belong to celebrities – the Katy Perrys and Justin Biebers and Lady Gagas.

And those are just the singers with more followers than President Barack Obama.

But as the newly public social platform rolls out to investors Thursday, we’re taking a look at the surprise stars of Twitter – the accounts you might not expect to be nestled in the top 200 most followed, alongside the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Adele.

Some come from the ranks of the quasi-famous, those who have parlayed a smaller share of the spotlight into social media stardom through their activity on Twitter. Others have backgrounds that have put them in the public eye in other ways.

And some aren’t people at all. On Twitter, you can do that.

Maybe you’ve never heard of them, or maybe you have. But all are examples of the power of Twitter, when used well, to enhance celebrity and amplify one’s voice.

Here are 10 of Twitter’s most unexpected stars. Let us know your favorite noncelebrity Twitter celebrities in the comments.

(Note: The rankings and follower numbers used come from the tool TwitterCounter.)

One Direction

OK, this entry kind of goes against the grain of the rest. But we couldn’t figure out how One Direction shouldn’t be first.

If you’re not a preteen girl, or a preteen guy who listens to music he doesn’t like to be around teen girls, you may well not even know that One Direction exists. But it does. And the group kind of owns Twitter.

One Direction is a band of young lads from England. They’re, by all accounts, dreamy. And they have six of the most popular accounts on the site.

Singer Harry Styles checks in at No. 22, with 17.4 million followers – more, even, than the 16 million following the band’s official account. The other four band members rank 29th, 35th, 38th and 53rd, each of them with more than 11 million followers of their own.

In contrast, the Beatles have the 969th most popular Twitter account. Of course, Ringo Starr doesn’t log on to share observations like “A little party never killed nobody,” either.


We find something amusing about the fact that Twitter’s chief rival, Facebook, is among the top 50 most popular Twitter accounts.

But when you have more than 1.1 billion users, maybe it makes sense that folks want to keep up on their favorite social media site while … well … visiting their other favorite social media site.

Facebook’s nearly 12 million followers put it at No. 44.

But this interloping is nothing new. In the earliest days of Google+, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was its most popular member.

Paulo Coelho

You wouldn’t think a revered Brazilian novelist would be satisfied with writing 140 characters at a time.

But Coelho, whose 1988 novel, “The Alchemist,” has sold more than 30 million copies, is an active user with more than 8.7 million followers (No. 83).

“Twitter, I think, is an art,” Coelho told The Guardian this year. “Because if you’re connected to people you learn how to (summarize).”

Works for us.

Dalai Lama

There’s probably not anyone in the world who would be more humble about having 8 million followers, right?

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader account is No. 91 on Twitter. And whether he personally writes the posts or not, they come off to anyone who has heard him speak as his authentic voice and tone.

Consider this account a nice palate cleanser after reading where Kim Kardashian went shopping last night.

Ramalan Indonesia

Apparently astrology is a big deal in Indonesia. This account, which awkwardly proclaims itself “The LARGEST ASTROLOGY in the WORLD,” has 7.2 million followers, good for No. 110 on the Twitter list.

As best we can tell, this is a Twitter feed, written in Malay, that’s the basic equivalent of those one-line horoscopes you get in the daily paper. (Note to fellow Libras: Apparently, it’s OK if we’re distracted at work today. We might have a cold.)

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry is famous. But you wouldn’t think he’d be this famous – twice as many followers as Jamie Foxx.

The British actor and writer, whose credits range from “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” to cult favorites “Black Adder” and “Doctor Who,” is a perfect fit for the site – its 140 characters just enough to share his dry wit. Or pictures of malformed M&Ms.

Either way, he’s got 6.3 million followers, landing at No. 131.

Queen Rania

“A mum and a wife with a really cool day job.”

Well, yes, if being the queen of Jordan is a really cool day job.

It’s not every day you find royalty on networking sites. But she’s answered questions from followers online and told interviewers that sites such as Twitter can be used to achieve real social change. With nearly 3 million followers (No. 456), it seems to be working.

Pattie Mallette

How does a Canadian mom end up with 2.7 million Twitter followers, making her account the site’s 554th most popular?

Well, naming your son Justin Bieber helps.

In addition to helping promote her famous son, Mallette talks about her projects, including an autobiography, and offers encouragement to teen mothers such as herself (she was 17 when Bieber was born).

Jack Dorsey

What’s a guy got to do to crack the top 600 around here? Dorsey was one of Twitter’s founders and has racked up 2.4 million followers. But come on. That only makes him No. 643 on his own site.

(We’d hate to think how Evan Williams and Biz Stone feel. They’ve got even fewer followers.)

The Dark Lord

Who says good always triumphs over evil?

We scoured Twitter for Harry Potter, and the boy wizard is nowhere to be found. (No, the official movie account doesn’t count.)

Meanwhile, Lord Voldemort is doing just fine for himself, thank you, with more than 2.2 million followers (No. 725).

This is a parody account, so there are no official ties with creator J.K. Rowling, the books or the movies. But we’re OK with that. It lets him be even meaner.