While many of us in the marketing world tend to focus on how many followers we have and how to get more, for many Twitter users the other side of that coin is a real challenge: How do I find good people to follow on Twitter?
Twitter itself has underscored the challenge as far back as March 2009 when it began showing a Suggested Users list to new users. Just a couple months ago, Twitter expanded its suggested users into about 20 categories and made those suggestions available to all users, not just new signups.
Still, whether you’re looking for friends, strangers or companies to follow, it’s never been an easy task. Beyond Twitter’s suggestions, there are search engines, directories, tools, and lists that can help. Here are some of our favorite ways to find the right people to follow on Twitter.
Lists are my preferred way to find people to follow. If someone I follow is on a list called, say, “Google Employees,” I can browse the other Twitter users on that list and add them if they look interesting. But that’s the slow, manual way to use lists, and there are a number of tools that make it even easier. I mentioned Twitter’s Suggested Users earlier — it’s the official recommendations divided into about 20 categories.
But you might also try Listorious, a search engine for Twitter Lists. If you’re looking for funny people to follow, maybe to make your morning workout more enjoyable, you can search for [comedy] and get back dozens of Twitter lists related to comedy. If you’re looking to connect with news reporters on Twitter, you can browse the [journalists] tag to see lists of reporters that other Twitter users have created.
Those aren’t your only list-based options. Twibes lets users build topical lists of Twitter users, and then (if I understand correctly) only shows tweets from those users that are specific to the topic. So, if I’m in the “SEO twibe” but send out a tweet about the Seattle Seahawks, it won’t show up in the SEO twibes stream.
Wefollow is a combination directory and search engine that you can browse or search by location or topics. The home page shows the most popular tags and cities, but there’s a search form if those aren’t what you’re looking for. Let’s say you’re looking for Twitter users in the tech industry to follow. The [tech] tag shows Twitter users under two tabs — Most Influential and Most Followers.
The Most Folllowers tab is self-explanatory; Most Influential appears to not only reflect follower counts, but also things like how often a user is retweeted.
There are a number of additional Twitter directories that might be good places to find Twitter accounts worth following. Try these:
- Twellow, which bills itself as the “Twitter Yellow Pages”
- ExecTweets, a directory of business executives on Twitter
- Twitter Moms Network
Twitter Recommendation Engines
Mr. Tweet is a recommendation engine that relies on your contacts’ votes and also offers communities (like a directory) based on topical interests. It’ll show you “friends of friends” and tell you a little about the recommendations, like how many times your friends have retweeted them, how many followers and friends they have, and more.
Mr. Tweet also asks you to give public recommendations of the people you already follow and invites you to tweet about your influence as a Twitter user.
Here are several other Twitter recommendation engines that are worth checking out to find good users for following:
- Who Should I Follow? scans your current list of friends and makes recommendations of users you’re not following that are similar.
- Twiangulate is similar to Who Should I Follow?, but lets you discover who up to three other users follow in common. So, for example, you could use this to see who Danny Sullivan, Barry Schwartz, and Greg Sterling follow on a common basis.
- HiveMind does the same thing, but you can supply up to five users and it’ll tell you who they’re following in common.
- find2follow takes your Twitter username and gives you back a list of recommendations, though there’s no explanation how or why it chooses the accounts you see.
Twitter Search Engines
It includes a variety of stats about each user, like how often they tweet, how often they reply, how often they get retweeted, and so forth. In that sense, it’s one of the more advanced tools for searching Twitter users who might be worth following. (Thanks to @EricKing for the tip.)
Twitter’s Advanced Search tool offers a variety of ways to slice and dice users and their tweets, but the site also offers a few more specific user search options:
- Twitter’s Account Search helps you find people or companies you know are on Twitter.
- If you’re not sure if someone is already on Twitter, Twitter’s Friend Finder lets you locate contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL who have Twitter accounts.
- If you’re looking for someone who doesn’t have an account, you can invite them via email.
TweepML is a tool that lets you create and share lists of Twitter users, but it also offers a search engine and directory of popular lists, too. @JaredHuber says he does hashtag searches to find users worth following, then he uses TweepML to bulk-follow them.
Finally, HashTweeps lets you search Twitter users by how often they use hashtags.
Local Twitter Users
There are several tools available that make it easy to find Twitter users in your local area (or in any local area).
LocaFollow is probably the most powerful of these local Twitter search engines. You can search four ways at the same time: location, bio, name, and tweet content (i.e., keywords). So, if you’re specifically looking for a doctor in Seattle who’s on Twitter, LocaFollow can give you back a list that matches the “Bio” and “Location” field of Twitter users.
Once you get a set of search results, LocaFollow shows a variety of information about each Twitter user — how long they’ve been a member, their most recent tweet, and their following, follower, and tweet counts. If you sign in via your Twitter account, you can also follow users right from the LocaFollow interface.
ChirpCity and Nearby Tweets are two additional local Twitter search engines. Both search tweets in a given area, and both have additional keyword search options — so you can find people tweeting about “cars” or “movies” in your hometown, for example.
Twitter’s Advanced Search also lets you search for tweets in a given location, and you can combine that with other options like keyword search, usernames, and so forth.
All of these can be powerful tools for a small/local business that’s looking to connect with Twitter users in its hometown.
While it may be difficult to find the right users to follow on Twitter, the good thing is that there’s no shortage of tools and web sites that aim to make it easier. I’m sure there are even more than what’s listed above, so if you have a favorite tool, site, or method for finding Twitter users to follow, let us know in the comments — tell us what it is and how you use it most effectively.