Who's got Klout?

Editor's note: This is an extended version of a story that appears in ESPN The Magazine's No. 25 QB Issue. It is part of an ongoing collaboration between Klout and ESPN to highlight athletes with surprising social media influence.

Followers of @StevieJohnson13
Twitter: 777,282
Followers of STVN
Vine: 7,269

Top Tweet
"I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO ... " -- Johnson, to God, after dropping what would have been a game-winning TD pass in OT against the Steelers in 2010

Whether he's tweeting about dropped passes or dropping bombs, the voluble Bills receiver -- a seventh-round draft pick who has three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons -- isn't afraid to run social media slant routes that keep cornerbacks and his critics guessing.

Your Klout score* (81) is up there with big fish who play in bigger ponds. What's your social media goal?
To connect with people who never get a chance to talk to professional athletes, because growing up I saw those people on TV and never felt I could talk to them.

At what time of the day and location are you most likely to do all that connecting?
After I put in the hard work at practice and then again later in the day. I'll go out to the backyard, look at the lake and check out what's going on in the world.

Hold up. You have a lake in your backyard?
Yeah, Lake Erie. It's pretty cool.

You're pretty irreverent on Twitter. Topics include everything from what you're eating to wondering why God let you drop a potential game winner. What's your approach to crafting your message?
Most of it is inspirational, funny or just me being real. I don't want to portray myself on social media one way, then have people see me at the mall and say, "This dude is not the same guy." I want to be authentic. What 
I put out there is me.

Did God ever get back to you about why you dropped that TD?
Yeah, he told me to handle my business and then have fun. I was doing the opposite: having fun before business.

You reward your followers with prizes. Are you cheating your way to more followers, or is the lesson to use what you've got?
It's just blessing people because I've been blessed. I'm fortunate to have sponsors. They're kind enough to let me give their products to fans. So why not?

How many of your Twitter mentions are fantasy football gripes?
Out of every 10 mentions, seven or eight are about fantasy. When your team wins but you don't do well, you get all these fans saying, "I'm gonna drop you!" I'm like, "Yo, I'm out here doing work!" It was frustrating at first, but I've learned to be okay with it. As I've developed a name in this league, I understand that fantasy is huge, so I'm not 
only out there fighting for my time, I'm fighting for all those fantasy owners too.

Some bosses, like Mike Tomlin of the Steelers, follow their players as a rule. Does your coach, Doug Marrone, follow you?
I don't know if he does. I'm pretty sure they got an eye on me but I don't have a problem with it. Every time you're Tweeting, it's business to a certain extent -- there's always somebody watching your page. You have to be aware of what you put out.

Leading up to a game, do you pay closer attention to your opponents' Twitter activity?
Nah. What if I get on my opponent's page and see him on there lifting weights, looking like a straight beast? Then I'm like, "Oh, s---, I gotta deal with this guy?!?" [Laughs]

Do you read all of your mentions?
I can't even lie to you … I usually just scan through them. So much of it is repetitive as far as fantasy -- do this, do that, some positive but some negative.

You once kidded that North Korea should nuke New England. How much is too much when it comes to revving a rivalry on social media?
The Patriots are at the top of our division. I was just trying to get our fans going, but it turned bad. I have to be more careful, but anybody who follows me knows I'm not malicious and don't want people to get hurt.

Fill in the blank: My teammate ______ needs to step up his social media game.
Marcell Dareus. He'd be super funny if he could figure out how to work his phone. C'mon, man, you're one of the top guys in Buffalo, and you can't even tweet, bro?

You recently tweeted: "Make her love you every day ... or if you're a lil lazy like myself, make her love you every other day ... the xbox/ps3 need love too ladies." What inspired that?
That'd be my wife, Britney. Madden NFL had just come out and I was thinking: I'm gonna spend a lot of time with Madden, but I gotta make her love me as a husband too. But maybe just every other day? I mean, we're talking about Xbox!

Earlier this season, you Vined out a video series, Slam Cam, in which you and several other players sneak up on a teammate, then somebody dunks on his head through a mini hoop. It's genius. Your brainchild?
Yeah, I brought it up at training camp. Coach [Doug Marrone] said everybody was fair game, so we ended up getting people at their lockers and having fun with it. But we gotta win more games to bring back Slam Cam. We can't be doing that while we're losing.

You haven't posted many Instagram pics. Not a fan?
I was probably 30,000 deep on Instagram at one point, but I felt like it was taking too much time away from my family and myself. Everywhere I went, I wanted to take a photo and post it. It took me out of the moment. But I'm slowly getting back into it now.

A few quick hits: Who is your social media crush?
I just looked up Scarlett Johansson but I couldn't find her. I don't think she on Twitter.

Hashtags: cool or played out?
Cool. You can say a whole lot of gibberish on there but if you throw in a few hashtags, they'll find you.

Are you an LOL or Ha ha Guy?
I was a Ha ha Guy for a long time, but I'm actually transitioning to LOL. I'm transitioning into the Emoji world too.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I follow _______.
Miley Cyrus. But I'm not really embarrassed about it! I listened to her old-school Hannah Montana song "The Climb." I've been following her ever since.

I wish ______ would follow me.
Everyone. Can I say that?

What would you tweet to my little brother, Rod, a long-suffering Bills fan who has been crying ever since Scott Norwood went wide right?
You can't dwell on the past, Rod. Prepare for the future. We got a good team out here in Buffalo. You'll like what you see.

* Based on analytics from sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Stats through Nov. 8.

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