Twitter: Top 5 Ways to Find Your Tribe

by | Jan 11, 2012

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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.

    Resource: Tweepz
  3. 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.

    Resource: Listorious
  4. 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.

  5. Find Third-party programs—As Twitter has become more popular there are more third-party programs available to search tweets and people. For instance 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

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. joye 510

    Helpful information. Lucky me I found your site unintentionally,
    and I’m surprised why this twist of fate did not happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

  2. matthew turner

    Some great links here, didn’t know of any of these so bookmarked them all. Should come in handy :)

    Thanks again Joel

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  3. Lindsay B

    It probably seems obvious, but I started putting my Twitter and Facebook links at the ends of my ebooks (in addition to my website link), and I’ve found that lots of readers will follow or “like” me on one or the other of those platforms. You can’t get a better “tribe” member than someone who’s already tried one of your books and enjoyed it enough to look you up.

    If you don’t capture those readers somehow (newsletter, blog feed, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), then they might just forget about you between one book and the next!

  4. George Angus


    I would classify this list as growing your Twitter organically. That is what I’ve done and while it has taken a little while, I’ve got about 2600 followers and I follow about 1350.

    As new Twitter folk head out and explore, I would caution them about the numerous “opportunities” that they will see about adding 10,000 followers (!) and other methods of not growing your Twitter organically. Ultimately you will be disappointed with your Twitter experience if you go only for the numbers.



    • Joel Friedlander

      Excellent advice, George, thanks for adding that. The number of followers is mostly irrelevant. If you have 10,000 people following you who are not interested in your subject area and won’t respond to your messages, what good is that? Growing your base this way means you build a cohesive tribe of people much more likely to be responsive and actually happy to see your posts.

  5. paula hendricks

    oops. i wasn’t clear. what i meant by “these tools” i was thinking of facebook, google +, twitter. YOUR list makes it easier to see how you can take baby steps and over time accomplish what you want. sorry i messed that up joel.


  6. paula hendricks

    this is a great list. i find i’m not using these tools as much as i “should” because it all seems so daunting and time consuming. but this list and it’s thoughtful comments about slowing it all down — it will take time… is very helpful.

    thanks again joel for a great blog + post.


    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Paula,

      When we gather stuff together to make a post like this it can seem overwhelming. In the “real” world I wouldn’t use all these resources all the time, just what’s needed at the moment. And I really don’t think there’s a “right” way to do Twitter, it’s such a malleable service you can do it the way it fits best with your own predilections.

      And Happy New Year!

  7. Ryan Hanley

    This is a good list of tools. Personally I leverage Twitter Lists the most. When used properly Twitter Lists become Google+ Circles… Twitter Lists are a very easy way to cycle through the different content creators that you might follow.

    I highly recommend Twitter Lists.


    Ryan H.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Good point Ryan. As the number of people you are following grows, lists become even more important to filter the stream of posts and focus on one area at a time. That’s exactly how I manage my account.



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