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Dan Savage: Social media king?

The Stranger’s Dan Savage is crude, lewd and, at times, outrageously funny. Seattle’s best-known sex advice columnist also is an online superstar, operating the biggest “social brand” among the many media properties and professionals in the city.

That’s one of the interesting findings from Newsdex, a nifty new online tool which is being unveiled today by two veteran newsmen.

Developed by longtime Seattle journalist Chuck Taylor and coding geek Gary Love, Newsdex provides a fascinating graphical analysis of the most powerful media brands in the city — as measured by Twitter and Facebook followers.

The list includes new media upstarts like the West Seattle Blog, My Ballard and GeekWire, as well as established entities like KOMO News, The Seattle P-I and KPLU.

But it is Savage who is the undisputed champ when it comes to social media presence.

The editorial director of The Stranger — who doesn’t Tweet (as far as we could find) — has attracted nearly 90,000 fans on Facebook. That’s more than the Twitter and Facebook followings of The Seattle Times and KING 5 — combined.


Savage also leads the list of the top media personalities in Seattle, followed by KIRO’s Jenni Hogan (29,000 followers) and Linda “The News Chick” Thomas (14,700 followers). (GeekWire’s own Todd Bishop ranks fifth at 6,041 followers, and I just crack the top 10).

Taylor, who has been playing around with Twitter lists for some time, describes Newsdex as a work in progress. He still maintains his day job as an editor at The Herald in Everett, calling Newsdex “an experiment and public service.”

Top media brands in terms of Twitter followers. (Click for full view)

The technology behind the Web site could be expanded in new directions, allowing companies to monitor accounts of employees or competitors in various industries. If there’s interest, Taylor said he may pursue that path.

There’s certainly valuable information in the initial lists, especially as the traditional media landscape goes through a period of upheaval. (We can already see PR masters gobbling up the lists)

Taylor, for one, said he’s gleaned interesting insight from the list, which can be sliced and diced into various categories like local/regional news and hyperlocal news.

“There’s an immediate lesson from this effort, learned as we painstakingly input the data: Most media sites do a lousy job of calling attention to their various Twitter accounts and Facebook pages,” notes Taylor, a veteran of The Seattle Times and Crosscut.

That hasn’t been a problem for Savage, who prominently displays a Facebook button on every one of his online columns. It is likely that the columnist will top 100,000 fans some time this Spring.

Love, who works at Belo in Seattle, said that Savage represented an interesting challenge since he’s both a local and national columnist.

“Dan obviously has an advantage with his national presence, but he fit those rules (of local media personality), so we included him,” said Love. “Social media recommendation No. 1: Have a cross-media, niche-national celebrity on staff.”

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