The Newcomers Guide To Twitter is a ten-part series of introductory lessons, tips and suggestions for people using Twitter for the first time. Please share these articles with your friends, family, colleagues and anyone you know who is struggling to “get Twitter”.
So, you’ve studied the basics, chosen the perfect username and setup your profile at Twitter.com. Everything looks good to go. But now what? How do you start finding interesting people, brands and accounts to follow?
In a nutshell, Twitter is all about engagement, and you can’t really hope to engage with anyone until you’re actively following them on Twitter. But when you’re brand new to the platform, unless you’ve taken Twitter’s suggestions when you signed up, chances are that you’re not following anybody. Equally, nobody is following you. So how do you find cool accounts to follow?
Here are 6 tips to get you started.
1. How Many Other Users Should You Follow? How Many Do You Need To Follow?
This is an expansive question, and here’s my opinion: there is no ideal or magic number of people to follow on Twitter. That said, it is also my view that you really don’t need to follow more than a few hundred. Why? Everybody on Twitter is connected, so news will always filter through. Folks who like to follow thousands and thousands of users will argue against this, but Twitter really doesn’t work properly (or, at all) if you follow huge numbers of profiles. Yes, you can use tools like Twitter lists to break down these follows into manageable chunks, but if you find yourself having to do that, chances are your follow number is too big. And if you find yourself only using Twitter Lists but some folks don’t make the cut, why are you following them at all?
Here’s the big secret: what you need to do is follow the right people. And, as always, that’s the right people for you. Nobody can tell you who that is – you have to find out for yourself. But as an example, you don’t need to follow every single breaking news account on Twitter. One or two is more than enough. You don’t need to follow every tech blog on Twitter. Most of them cover the same stories, so go with your favourites. You don’t need to follow Justin Bieber on Twitter. Nor do you want to. And so on.
All that said, you can definitely be following too few accounts, too. Strive for the happy medium. For you, that might be one hundred follows. For someone else, it night be five hundred. But hit that equilibrium and make sure it’s comfortable for you. Going forward, adjust accordingly.
2. Using Twitter To Find People To Follow
It’s in Twitter’s interest that you actively start following other users as quickly as possible, and to expedite this process they’ve provided a number of tools.
- Who To Follow – Twitter’s Who To Follow feature recommends accounts that you might like to follow based on who you already follow, and more (it uses an algorithm). When you first sign up these recommendations are pretty generic but over time they do get a little better.
- Find Friends – Twitter’s Find Friends feature is very useful when you first sign up. Here, you can empower Twitter to search your email contacts (all major platforms are supported) to see if they are already on Twitter (assuming they’re using that same email address). You can also use Twitter Search to find friends, or invite friends via email. Finally, Twitter will make recommendations via its People You May Know feature, which is a bit hit and miss but can be useful.
You can also browse Twitter’s list of profile categories for generic recommendations. This is heavily biased towards major brands, celebrities and people of interest on Twitter, but again can be useful when you’re getting started.
3. Using Google To Find People To Follow
Twitter tries hard, but Google excels at this stuff and more often than not the easiest way to find somebody you know on Twitter (particularly if they’re famous) is through Google. Simply go to Google and type in Twitter firstname lastname – if the person you’re searching for isn’t sharing their name with a million other people they will almost always be the first result. The same holds true for brands and almost everything else.
4. What About Klout?
You’ve probably heard of social influence tracking platforms such as Klout, which rate social media users based on their online credibility, and those with high numbers would seem, on paper at least, a worthy follow. However, these systems are easily gamed and will never compete with basic human intuition. Trust me on this: there are many questionable characters out there with very high Klout scores. And, equally, there are some very worthwhile folks who couldn’t give two hoots about playing the game and subsequently have an average or even low score. Also know this: ironically, nobody who matters cares about your Klout score, or their own. Who do YOU find influential? Trust your gut.
5. You Don’t Have To Follow Anyone Back
This is important and needs your full attention: you’re under no obligation to follow anybody on Twitter. Yes, this tutorial is all about how you can find people to follow, but just because somebody is following you it does not mean that you need to automatically follow them. Sure, it can seem like the right thing to do – it feels polite, after all – but Twitter doesn’t work if you just blindly follow any and everyone.
Twitter does work if you follow the right people – and, as above, that’s right for you. Not your friends. Not because you read a bunch of recommendations in a list. And not because you feel obligated to. And, chances are, just because somebody is interested in you, and what you say on Twitter, doesn’t mean you’ll be interested in them. In fact, most of them the exact opposite is true. Clicking that follow button can seem like such a small thing, but do it too often, and do it for the wrong folks, and Twitter will be ruined. It’s your Twitter – shape it how you will.
6. Keep Twitter Tidy
Evaluate and prune your Twitter network on a weekly basis – it shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be static. If Twitter is moving too fast for you, reduce the number of people you follow accordingly. A 10 percent trim once or twice a month (i.e., if you’re following 300 people, reduce to 270, then slowly build up again if desired) can work wonders and totally rejuvenate your interest (and attention). And remember: you’re under no obligation to keep following anybody. If you can’t remember why you’re following someone, that’s all the reason you need: unfollow.
This post is part of The Newcomers Guide To Twitter, a ten-part series of introductory lessons, tips and suggestions for people using Twitter for the first time or thinking about signing up for a profile. Click here to see the other posts in this series (and if you’re just getting started, here’s part one), and please hit the comments to share your own Twitter tips.