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Finding People to Follow on Twitter

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I have had a big influx of followers on Twitter the last several weeks, in some part due to being on the “Recommended” list for new users. I’m excited to meet so many new people, but my heart broke yesterday when I asked how people liked it, and I got many responses to the effect that they felt like they were “talking into a vacuum.” 🙁 Well, I aspire to be a good hostess, so I’ve compiled a list of how to build your Twitter community.

1. Who do you know?
Invite your friends and family to start accounts. Unless you do this your interest will wane. Twitter is all about building community. Use the Twitter feature “Find People” -> “Find on other networks” to search your mail contacts and see if they have accounts. Then, if you’re active on Facebook, add the Twitter Facebook App to automatically update your Facebook Status. Great first step to connecting your worlds and encouraging a dialogue with your existing contacts!

2. Who can I learn from?
I’m totally against elitism, but I admit it’s good to add some of the “popular people” on Twitter in order to get a feel for the service. I would never have stuck with it without first following @veronica because you learn the ropes quickly through watching how experienced Twitterers do it. A site called Twitterholic lists up to the top 1000 Twitterers by follower count and Twitter Elite has a system where they rate people by “quality” (somehow.) Use these services, as well as the built-in Twitter “Suggested Users” feature to add people who look interesting to you, and then unfollow them if you find them dull later. These guys have so many followers they won’t get insulted. 🙂

3. What do you do?
Twitter is a great networking tool but it’s not super easy to find people by profession. I’ve found a few directories you can use. Check out Twellow and JustTweetIt for people listed by self-submitted category (and add yourself while you’re at it). But the main way I find people is through other people I follow. If they’re in web video, like me, I click on who they’re following and find a lot of people who would be good to listen to in my area and follow them. Easy!

4. Where do you live?
Twittercounter lists the top Twitterers by Time Zone in a drop-down menu and TwitterGrader allows you to search the “Twitter Elite” by location. Adding people this way is a nice way to build a local community. Eventually you can arrange a Twitter Meetup, why not!?

5. What interests you?
Have a hobby? As listed above Twellow and JustTweetIt list people in category, and the Twitter Fan Wiki has some interesting categories under “The Cast of the Twitterverse” in the righthand sidebar. CelebrityTweet has a huge list of supposedly vetted celebrity Twitters, and many companies have Twitters, just search their names on the Twitter site. There was a great article on Mashable last month “40 of the Best Twitter Brands” and why they’re good; interesting read and list.

6. Who can help?
I signed up a few months ago to MrTweet a “butler” service for Twitter who will suggest people for you to follow based on your Twitter habits, etc. I was skeptical, but the list I got back was actually pretty aligned with people I would be interested in following, so I would give it a try if you don’t want to do a lot of legwork.

A few last Twitter tips while I’m at it:

-Some Twitter users do a LOT of interaction through @ replies, and if you don’t follow BOTH people you can find yourself listening to one sided conversations all the time. There is a feature under “Settings -> Notices” for @ Replies, allowing you to filter all @ replies, none, or just the ones where you aren’t hearing both parts of the conversation. EDIT: For the record I LOVE @replies, so don’t stop! I mention this so YOU can turn them off if you want to, little known feature 🙂

-Do not ask people to follow you and don’t confront them if they unfollow you. It’s nothing personal. 🙂 I myself limit the number of people I follow because it’s the one thing I keep to friends and colleagues on the web. Otherwise it would be impossible to manage. I read every reply and frequently Direct Message people who send @ messages to me, so I do my best!

Hope this helps people make their Twitter experience more enjoyable! Also, I wrote posts previously with other Twitter Tools and a Twitter Author List, check those out if you’re interested. Any other tips I’m sure people would love to read in the comments, so feel free to add your advice!

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