Meet Fresno's most followed people on Twitter

FRESNO, Calif.

The social media site is growing at a rate of almost a-half million accounts a day. And more accounts mean more followers.

Who in the Valley would you guess is the most popular person on Twitter? A politician? Or a sports figure? Maybe a news personality... or maybe not. Well, chances are you didn't guess a food blogger.

"The whole thing was accidental," said Nicole Hamaker. "I did not know what a food blog was when I first started."

Hamaker was living in Italy when she started her blog called "Pinch My Salt" as a way to share pictures with her family back home in the Valley. Four years later, her food recipes and mouth-watering photos have made her the most popular Tweeter in Fresno, with more than 100 thousand followers.

Hamaker said, "Yeah that's a big number."

100 thousand is big, when you consider her number is right up there with celebrity chefs like Mario Batali and Rocco Dispirito. At one point she was on Twitter's recommended following list.

"If you think about 100 thousand people reading about your everyday life, it's a little overwhelming," said Hamaker. "So I try not to think too much about that."

Instead, Nicole focuses on what made her so popular to begin with, food.

"I like to share things I think are useful for other people. So if I run into a recipe someone else has mentioned or is from another site, I share a link," said Hamaker. "One of my favorite questions to ask is what are you going to have for dinner, just hearing what people around the world are going to eat, is a lot of fun."

Nicole's 'fun' has become Imad Naffa's passion. From his bold and artfully decorated office in Northeast Fresno, Imad has also been steadily and expertly growing his Twitter following.

Naffa said, "There's a lot of people there, all these eyes and ears, waiting, and I have something to tell."

Imad has a lot to share. The civil engineer and building code consultant was at first intimidated by the social networking site, now, he Tweets about 100 times a day.

"I have people write me and say you talk too much," said Naffa. "I say that is why god invented the unfollow."

With more than 53 thousand followers, Imad is the third most followed person in Fresno. But he's number one on lists that measure klout or influence. It's a score that indicates your "follow-worthiness". The number is determined by several factors: how many followers you have and their klout score, your number of updates and how many times people retweet or share your posts.

"I can reach literally 2-3 million people worldwide with the reach that I have," said Naffa. "When you think about it, it's flabbergasting. How do you put a price on that?"

Imad uses the site to market his business and share his industry expertise with colleagues around the world. But just as important is the ability to learn and instantly connect with innovative minds in every profession.

Imad is now part of a select group of Twitterologists that participate in conferences around the world sharing their knowledge and experiences with social media.

Naffa said, "I have a passion for the decimation of information and I'm always looking, and Twitter works for me for penetration, reaching people."

Imad admits though, that Twitter has become a bit of an addiction. "It beats having any other habits that are not good for you, right?"

Neither Nicole nor Imad has a set strategy for gaining followers, but they do have some recommendations.

Nicole says you need to be yourself and generous about sharing things that are useful to others.

Imad has a list -- he says you need to be interesting, engaged, consistent and always fascinating, because it's easier to gain followers than to keep them.

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