On Monday, I started the first of three posts I'm calling Twitter 101. That post focuses on programs I use to tweet. Today, I'll answer the second question I've been getting: How do I find people to follow on Twitter?

How do I find people to follow on Twitter?

Following interesting people is the key to a satisfying experience with Twitter. The only tweets you see on Twitter are those of the people you follow.

First, you follow the folks most seem to follow in the beginning, for me those were @chrisbrogan, @robhatch, @jnswanson, and @newmediajim.

Then you find new people by looking at who the people you follow, follow. As the people you follow reply to a Twitter user, you can click through on their name to see if their bio and tweets are interesting enough for you to follow. (This is one reason to make sure you have an interesting bio.)

But that will only get you so far.

Searches

To really find cool people to follow, try some of these tools:

  • Twitter Search is a great way to find people. Just type words that interest you, topics, locations, anything.
  • My favorite directory of Twitter users is Twellow. I find this even more helpful than Twitter search.

    I've used it to do searches on things like "fundraising" and "nonprofit." But I also do fun searches on things like "homebrewing." Can you see why it's important to fill in your bio with keywords? I also recommend getting a picture on your profile too. You don't really look serious without one.

    People even use it before moving to a new city. They search for Twitter users in the area they're interested in. They look for people that can help them find a job and help them have a social network when they get there.

  • Another tool is Mr.Tweet. This site promises to suggest "identify relevant followers" and it comes up with interesting people. It also provides interesting stats on your tweeting habits.
  • I'm also liking NearbyTweets. This site shows you who's tweeting in your community. Living in a rural area, I'm amazed to see how many people here are tweeting!

These will go a long way in helping you find fun people to follow. Mashable has some great articles with more ideas including:

Autofollowing

Another way to "find" good people to follow is to "autofollow." After all, those that are following you must have good taste, right? 🙂

Services like SocialOomph (formerly TweetLater) allow you to "autofollow" people that have followed you. If you do a Google search on autofollowing, you'll find some pretty heated blog posts for and against the practice.

I autofollowed for over a year and found it helpful. I don't have time to constantly look over the new people following me to see who's interesting. But as time went on, I was finding myself "autofollowing" lots of spammers and others that had less than desirable content. If you follow only people that promise ways to get more followers or make money at home or only tweet quotes, you'll quickly get bored.

The good news is that if you unfollow them, you don't see their spam anymore!

Grouping Followers

When I started out, I followed people in my career: fundraisers. (And people that would hopefully buy my fundraising book!) Then I started following media folks (so I could learn how to promote my book). But as I got into it, I started following others: people that homebrewed beer like I do, people that cheer for the Red Sox, people that live in Maine.

Pretty soon, my twitter stream was a swirling with lots of unrelated content.

Fortunately, services like " target="_blank">HootSuite [affiliate link] allow you to create "groups." This allows you to group people in any way you see fit. So recently I've been experimenting with:

  • a group of nonprofit folks (my "professional" group),
  • a Maine group (my "local" group),
  • a group of family members (my "saving face" group--it's really embarassing to miss your wife's tweets!)
  • a group of "first follows" (in many ways my "favorites" group--thanks to @robhatch for giving me this suggestion)

The great thing is that none of these people need to know they're in a group. Their tweets still show up in the regular tweet stream, but they also show up in a group column so you're far less likely to miss them.

As I said before, I’ve been tweeting since mid-2007 and have typed over 11,000 tweets, but I still feel like a relative beginner. What tools have you found useful in finding new people to follow?

[This is the second in a series of 3 Twitter 101 blog posts. The next is about what hashtags are and why they're important.]

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