Twitter: How Do You Find People To Follow?

Many people struggle with the idea of Twitter. The idea of posting 140-character updates for the world to see seems shallow and the idea of following other peoples’ updates seems creepy. Why would you want to follow people you hardly know, anyway?

This is especially true when people explain it badly. As my Twitter-bud Jennifer Leggio commented yesterday, "It would take me three hours and white board to explain Twitter to my mom." I’ve stopped using the term ‘micro-blogging’ as I found people generally went cross-eyed when I said it.

I nowadays, I describe Twitter as being like instant messaging but with crowds of people.

In reality, Twitter can be a great way of staying in touch with your friends. But Twitter is at its most valuable when you have a large communicate with a sizeable community of people. Laura Fitton and Shel Israel both wrote great posts recently on this topic, saying much the same thing.

This got me thinking: how do people find others to follow on Twitter?

So I asked my Twitter friends.

How Do You Find People To Follow

This is one of the cool benefits of a larger social circle – you can pose questions and get useful replies. A few trends from what I heard:

  1. Friends: First and foremost, people follow those that they know.
  2. People That Others Follow: People rely on the quality of their friends’ friends.
  3. Similar Interests: People look for other users with similar interests that they can learn from.
  4. Conversation: People gravitate towards people who are involved in interesting conversations. One-way information pushing doesn’t work.

If you’re new to Twitter or thinking about giving it a try, don’t limit yourself to people you know. Branch out. Check out who your friends follow. Find people with similar interests. Expand your circle and you’ll realize the true benefits of Twitter.

Existing Twitter users – how do you decide who to follow?

  • GoOrange

    At first, I did a search for a few people I knew from the internet (people whose blogs I followed etc.). If those people had an interesting conversation with someone, I’d read that person’s updates for the last day or two. If they seemed interesting, I’d follow them as well.

    It becomes fun if you follow someone, follow who they are following, and follow who they are following etc. After a while a real sense of community starts to develop, with a group of people all following each other. Good times!

    -Jeff

  • I’m so happy that I recommended you to @mediaphyter!

    Shel Israel and I have a similar approach. If a person’s name pops up frequently in the conversations of the people I follow, it gives me reason to check out their profile, previous posts, URL, and favourites. If they look interesting, I’ll follow.

    Another technique is to search for my city (Montreal) in Twitter. Doing that helps me to build a local network of people. Twitter is great for meeting people all over the world, but it’s always good to have people you can meet with face-to-face. As a result, I’m organizing Montreal’s first Tweet-Up for the end of this month.

    The last way I decide who to follow is to check out those who follow me, though, I don’t always reciprocate at first. But, I usually check my follow/following gap once a month and re-assess any people I haven’t followed.

    It’s great to have gotten to know you and @mediaphyter through Twitter. I look forward to more 140 character discussions with you both.

    @adelemcalear

  • as soon as I see people giving links that matter (for a wider community), who am I to decide: I’ll follow them or based on a coherent opinion

  • Following “real world” friends/colleagues didn’t get me very far, since so few of them are on the twitterchannel. So yes I’ve used some of the other techniques listed here.

    I totally agree that “micro-blogging” doesn’t get at what being on twitter is like. There’s IM-style flow there that you don’t get from the blogosphere.

  • Hi Dave…very good advice. I find that I’ve been following twitter less and less since I joined about 2 weeks ago. I’ll give it a second chance with your tips and those of others.

  • Jeff, Adele and Peter – thanks for your tips.

    Josh – definitely try out some of these ideas. I look forward to seeing you more on there!

  • If you guys have any questions about Twitter, just ask me. Fleet – not trying to steal anything away, just offering a little help. People are so often short-sighted when trying to figure out the benefits of such things which are really long-term…

    Here, this might not please the academics amongst us who use terms like “targeted traffic” and sound really poetic when they do, but it works… and while it’s not targeted to a keyword, it IS targeted to people who like Twitter and who see and feel the power of social media…

    Quick Free Tip on How to Get Followers Fast on Twitter

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    All the best,
    Sam

  • Thanks for the great tips. I really needed them, as I’m brand new at Twitter so could use all the help I can get! Thanks again 🙂

  • Amy — glad it was helpful!

    Please feel free to add me as a contact – I’m happy to help you find your feet. My username is ‘davefleet’

  • Hi Dave, Since I work in social media, I have a decent circle of tweeps and many smart enough to follow people I need to follow, so like Adele, I’ll often follow people my friends talk to(and/or retweet) frequently. I also use Twubble to find people that several of my friends are following. Expanding scope(find twitters with similar interests in other areas – e.g. something like behavioral economics, which intrigues me, and I wish to learn more about or humorous twitters/bloggers, which is always fun) is somewhat challenging. Twitter packs is useful for finding certain interest/topics, Twitter grader for others, but I haven’t found the magic finder. Yet.