(This is part two of a three-part series. You can read part one here.)
Who Should You Follow?
Anyone, and everyone! Twitter makes it very easy to follow new people – simply go to their profile page, and click on the ‘follow’ button. Equally, it’s just as easy to ‘unfollow’ anybody, which means that at no time are you risking anything. Again, Twitter isn’t like Facebook – by following somebody, or letting somebody follow you, you’re not exposing all your secrets to some random stranger. The personal information on your profile page is basic and all your Twitter friends will see is your name, location, website and bio. That’s it. There’s nothing to worry about.
There are three main ways to find new people to follow:
1.Â Â Â Use Twitter’s ‘Find People’ feature
2.Â Â Â Use Twitter’s search function
3.Â Â Â External services
Each of these are beneficial in very different ways.
Twitter.com: Find People
There are several ways to find new people on Twitter itself. Twitter.com supplies you with a link called ‘Find People’. If you click on this, you’ll see a further four options: ‘Find On Twitter’, ‘Find On Other Networks’, ‘Invite By Email’ and ‘Suggested Users’.
Find On Twitter – This is the most basic search function. You’ll be presented with a search box in which you can input the names of people you know, famous people, or pretty much anything else. Be mindful that some people don’t register under their real names so just because they don’t show up in a search doesn’t mean they don’t exist. (Personally, I think the ‘Find On Twitter’ search function is a little weak.)
Find On Other Networks – This function is very beneficial to the new user. Enter your email address and password – it’s entirely secure, and your details are not stored in any way – and Twitter will scan your address book(s) for people you know who are already on Twitter. You’ll probably be amazed how many names it will return. This is a great first step.
Invite By Email – Enter the email addresses of your friends and Twitter will send them a personal invite.
Suggested Users – The ‘Suggested Users’ page is a list of recommendations of people you should follow made by Twitter. It’s a bit hit and miss, but is worth a look.
At the bottom of your profile page on Twitter.com are a range of links, one of which is ‘Search’. If you click on this, you’ll load up Twitter’s search function, which is located at http://search.twitter.com/. This is a very different beast to the search facilities provided by ‘Find People’.
Twitter search allows you search the entire database of Tweets. This is an extremely powerful function. You could, for example, search for:
- Things that you like
- People that you know
Or anything else that takes your fancy. This makes it very easy to find other people who share your interests. Say you’re a big fan of Metallica. By entering ‘Metallica’ into the search box, you’ll generate a big list of all the users on Twitter who are talking about Metallica, too.
What’s great about Twitter’s search function is it runs in realtime. If you leave the search window open, it will continue to update throughout the day as new results are found.
Very soon, the Twitter.com search function will become a more central part of the home page, and logically this should mean that as more people use and become comfortable with it, Twitter itself should benefit from an overall improvement in quality.
There are various external services which track and monitor Twitter and some of these are useful when finding new people to follow.
Twittercounter.com – Twittercounter.com tracks every user on Twitter and is a great resource for statistics. (For example, here is my page.) For the new user, one feature that is helpful is the Top 100 most followed users. This lists the one hundred most popular users on Twitter, ranked by number of followers, and is a great way to find new, interesting and often influential people to follow.
Valebrity.com – If you want to follow the famous, this is the place to go. Valebrity both tracks and verifies celebrity accounts on the Internet (not just Twitter), and the service goes the extra mile to identify the fakers. (You can also follow Valebrity on Twitter @valebrity.)
Google – As I said above, the Twitter ‘Find People’ function is a bit hit and miss, particularly if a user has not entered their full name. Google’s search function is probably a better alternative, certainly if the person you’re searching for is reasonably well known or has a very unique name. Simply enter ‘Twitter name‘ in the search box, and Google will work its usual magic.
By using some or all of the features above, you will very quickly be able to build a list of people to follow.