Twitter, to my mind, is the most powerful and fluid of the social media utilities we have on the social web. Although Facebook is larger, it’s much more difficult to acquire a following there, since many people use Facebook for personal interactions rather than for business or research.
On Twitter, people can gain followers quickly, broadcast great ideas and links, and see their work go viral.
There are networks of people who you might want to connect with, including thought leaders in your field or vendors who might be a good match for your products or services.
There’s just one problem: how do you find them among the 100 million+ Twitter users?
Don’t give up hope, it’s not as bad as searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. To get you started, here are five ways you can research people on Twitter. Use these methods to find people to follow (who may then follow you back), to make connections, and to find discussions in which you can profitably take part.
In each case, you’ll want to check the bios of the people turned up by your searches to see who might be a good match. Gradually you’ll build up lists of people interested in your topic from many angles. Here are your search options—use one, two or all of them.
- Search using Twitter search—If you haven’t tried it, one of the best search engines for Twitter is the one Twitter itself provides. Use this tool to search for keywords used in your niche and to subjects that are popular right now in real time (trending topics).
Resource: Twitter Search
- Follow the Followers—Look at some of the people in your niche who have already built up a healthy list of followers. Go through their follower lists to find people who you may want to follow, and who might also be interested in following you.
- Look at Lists—Twitter Lists are a terrific way to segment the people you follow, and to create streams of tweets based around subject areas. This also makes Twitter a lot easier to use as your follower base grows. For instance, I maintain lists for both people involved in ebooks and self-publishing, two of the niches I write for. If you are also in this niche, take a look at these lists and you’ll get the idea.
- Use #Hashtags—Those funny little strings of characters people put at the end of their tweets, with the hashtag—or pound sign—in front are very useful. These tags are a way for people to signify their membership in a group, whether it’s based on an interest, or breaking news, or real-time discussion groups. It’s another way to find how people select the interest groups they belong to and make that available to you. Think of hashtags as a way to filter metadata specific to Twitter.
- Find Third-party programs—As Twitter has become more popular there are more third-party programs available to search tweets and people. For instance Twellow.com has subject matter searches that will turn up people likely to be interested in your topic.
These methods can be used all at once, of course. When you’re new on Twitter it may seem like it takes a while to build a base. But getting quality followers—people who actually engage with you and your subject matter—isn’t fast. Keep in mind this is a true digital asset you are building, and don’t worry about the numbers, they will come.
So go and find your community on Twitter, your Tribe, your peeps. Grow and prosper.
This article was originally published in a slightly different form as Top 5 Ways to Research People on Twitter on March 30, 2011 at CreateSpace.com