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Updated 21 Feb 2016

Kanye's Twitter Growth: Is He Trolling?

It's been a busy month for Kanye West: He's picked a fight with Wiz Khalifa, released a new album, misogynised Taylor Swift, held a fashion show, and begged Mark Zuckerberg for some cash. Whether this is all part of an elaborate PR campaign, completely spontaneous, or a mixture of both, it's been giving him some big gains on twitter. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of his key moments since the start of the year, and how it's affected his following.
Kanye West: Villain, victim, or PR genius? Tweet
Is Kanye 'trolling' the internet? Tweet
All celebrities will generally see a steady growth in followers as people join twitter. This is largely due to the fact that they are the first accounts presented to new users in the sign up process. But when they make the news (for the right or wrong reasons), they will usually see a spike in followers. It is a fascinating real-time measure of fame (or imfamy) that was hard to visualize before the days of google, twitter, and the like.


The chart above shows how much Kanye's follower count increased each day. His biggest gain came from an exchange he had with Wiz Khalifa. In a rant that got messy, he gained a whopping 277k followers. He also saw big gains around the release date of his latest album 'The Life of Pablo', which coincidentally was when he asked Mark Zuckerberg for money on twitter. He added another 270k followers over that two day period.
A few days earlier he released lyrics that stated that he 'might still have sex' with Taylor Swift. He also tweeted that Bill Cosby was innocent, as well as an apology to Michael Jordan. All this around the time of his fashion show at Madison Square Garden in New York. Clearly it's hard to attribute exact cause and effect when so much is going on, but it's obvious that it all contributes to the overall increase in publicity. A snapshot of google searches for 'kanye' during this period shows the growth in interest online.

Whether you think of him as a musical genius, a bully, or just misunderstood, he has raised his publicity this year already. And he has done this around his key commercial interests (fashion and music). At appears though that he may have got more traction asking someone else for money...


So what do you think? Is he 'trolling'? He has said some pretty nasty things about other people online (which is the definition of a troll). Or was he just reacting to the mud being thrown at him? The dirt is flowing both ways, but you also can't deny that he seems to be the centre of controversy more often than not. All the while he benefits from the turmoil.
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