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Published March 11 2013

Website ranks top Twitters users in Fargo, Moorhead

FARGO - Josh Whitford likes to say that “If Paul Revere was living today, he would have tweeted that the British were coming.”

Whitford, “@therealjosh” in the world of Twitter, has been tweeting via that moniker since April 2008.

According to a website that gauges influence on the social media site in which quips and links are shared in 140 characters or less, Whitford is one of the elite Twitter users in Fargo.

He ranks No. 3 in Fargo and No. 6 in North Dakota on Twitter Grader, which attempts to measure the impact a particular user has, according to a company blog post. The Twitter Grader “grade” is based on number of followers, power of those followers according to their own grade, number of updates, how current the account is and other factors.

In both Fargo and Moorhead, the top Twitter handles are mostly businesses and institutions – such as North Dakota State University, Scheels and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, for instance.

The high grade doesn’t matter to Whitford. He likes what Twitter does. He likes the speed of Twitter, the social aspect and how it bypasses traditional filters on information, taking “you one step or two steps closer” to the source of information. He’s hired employees who he first met on Twitter.

Simple as the idea is, Twitter is powerful. It surpassed half a billion user accounts in July 2012, according to a Paris-based analyst group.

A common theme that seems to emerge when talking to some of the heavy Twitter-hitters in the area is the value of conversation and interaction in developing an effective Twitter account.

“We turned off the auto-pilot and decided to treat it as a conversation,” said Swanson Health Products Web content specialist Ben Hanson. “By using it as a relationship-building tool versus a one-way advertising channel, we get a lot more interaction, which is what social media is all about.”

Swanson ranks ninth in North Dakota on Twitter Grader.

Near the top of the Twitter Grader leaderboard in Moorhead is Concordia College, with its grade of 97.1 out of a possible 100.

“It’s a great way to connect w/ our audience in RT (real time), follow trends, live-tweet events, engage w/ the community & share our story,” Concordia online communication specialist Gia Rassier said in an interview via (what else?) Twitter.

She agrees conversation and interaction are key to being successful on Twitter.

“Recognize it’s not a one-way street!” Rassier said. “Engage with your audience. Ask & answer questions, as fast as possible. Be authentic.”

The grader rankings may not include all users in our given region, in part because Twitter allows a great deal of flexibility in how a user lists their location. Also, from reading Twitter Grader’s description of how the grades are created, it is not certain that all Twitter users have been graded. Furthermore, users can say they are from wherever they choose, so there’s no guarantee that users are from where they say they’re from.

Grand Forks tweeter Nancy Hennen, “@newsgunner,” is ranked No. 5 in North Dakota and has close to 19,000 followers. Her followers include the Washington Post, digital news source Mashable and other influential figures. She has a passion for delivering breaking news, sometimes even waking in the night to tweet out information.

Twitter is “real time information communicated immediately,” she said.

There’s really nothing better for breaking news in her view.

Hennen has a background in radio in both Fargo and Grand Forks. She is a contributing writer for Alan Colmes’ Liberaland website. She hopes to take the success she’s having on Twitter and turn it into a job in social media.

But her passion for sharing news on Twitter is about more than getting a job. On a personal level, she just senses a need to communicate.

“I feel like that’s why I was put on this earth,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734

Twitter Grader top 5 by state:


• tami282 (Tami)

• bebizzy (Marv Dorner)

• buzzit_tv (Neil Carlson)

• feelhealthynow (Feel Healthy Now)

• newsgunner (Nancy Hennen)


• tweetsmarter (TweetSmarter)

• zaibatsu (Reg Saddler)

• mattslavenov (Matt Slavenov)

• entryleveljob (CollegeRecruiter.com)

• rharvley (Fitness Ryan)

Twitter Grader top 5 by city:


• tami282(Tami)

• feelhealthynow (Feel Healthy Now)

• therealjosh (Josh Whitford)

• winningjob (Douglas A. Roehrig)

• SwansonVitamins


• MNHarleyRider(Scott Sebenaler)

• korbyimagery(Korby Imagery)

• titanoutlet(Titan Machinery)

• Concordia_MN(Concordia College)

• jlysne(Josh Lysne)