I often get asked about Twitter. After each month’s Tweets of the Month Club, I’ll get asked, “How do you find these people?” When I talk about how I know some of my friends (or, more often, random people across the restaurant), I’m met with looks of amazement when I say, “Twitter.” Especially when I mention that I stayed at their house or drove out of town to see them or started a blog with them.
I’m not an expert. Far from it. But I like what’s in my feed and I’ve made several close friends by getting to know them 140 characters at a time. So, I’m here to tell you all my secrets slash they’re not really secrets. This is just how I find people, whom I choose to follow, and a bit about becoming friends through that medium.
I found a lot of people I follow through traditional means—I know them in real life. Here’s a secret: I don’t follow everyone I know in real life. I have close friends who are not on Twitter or who are so rarely tweeting that I don’t follow them. This doesn’t mean I love them less; it just means I have to log into Facebook to see their thoughts on the election.
Another way I find people to follow is through blogs. I read a lot of blogs. Or rather, I skim a lot of blogs and read the ones I find interesting. If I like a blogger, I find him/her on Twitter. Sometimes I find people through guest posts or random mentions on their friends’ blogs. I’d group online magazines in this category as well.
I follow people who are at my company and in my industry. For those very reasons. I’m interested in my industry and I love my company so it just makes sense to follow people who are also interested in those things and work with me.
Finally, and this is the real tip, I follow people who are mentioned and retweeted by people I already follow. If someone’s retweet makes me think or laugh out loud, I check out their profile. If it seems to have lots of stuff that makes me think or laugh out loud, I hit the follow button. If I notice that someone is often mentioned in tweets that mention other people I follow, I check out their profile. Chances are, if a bunch of people I know and like follow them, then I would probably like them, too. In the real world, this would be meeting through mutual friends.
Some people use lists to follow more people. This way, they can follow a whole lot of people, but only really “listen” to certain groups. They may have a list of funny people or a list of coworkers or a list of people they want to read while watching Walking Dead. I don’t really do that. I have one list and I only use it when I’ve been away from Twitter all day and have to play catch-up.
Partly because of that, I don’t follow everyone who follows me. I don’t follow everyone who gets retweeted into my feed. I don’t follow every single person in my industry. And, as I said before, I don’t follow everyone I know in real life.
I pick people to follow based on standards I set myself. Everyone has different standards (or no standards), but here are mine (generally):
- They need to tweet interesting stuff. Either it makes me laugh, think, say, “Me, too!,” or it encourages me, challenges me, or leads me to want to get to know them more. If someone only retweets, only tweets quotes, only tweets political statements, etc., I don’t follow.
- They need to tweet relatively often. I’m not talking every five minutes. Just, you know, a few times in the last month. Conversely, if they have literally tweeted every five minutes and it’s not some special live-tweet event, I can’t do that.
- They need to be someone I wouldn’t mind endorsing. This is solely my opinion, but to follow is a sort of endorsement. To retweet is another level of that. To include in the Tweets of the Month is even more so. I just don’t want to have to keep up with whom I feel okay endorsing and whom I’d have to apologize for if my mom or boss read their tweets.
Often, I do a sort of trial period. It isn’t scientific, nor do I really keep up with it. Every so often, I just look through the people I’m following and if I can’t remember anything interesting (to me) from someone, I unfollow. Or if someone tweets something crazy, I’ll just unfollow them then. Like I said, it’s not scientific. You do you.
Twitter is lovely in that you can follow people who do not follow you. This means, you can get to know your favorite blogger, speaker, actor, writer, singer without them having to add you back. It’s great fun. This also means, people you follow have no obligation to acknowledge you. So, getting to know someone can be a little more difficult. Here’s what’s worked for me.
I follow them. I retweet. I favorite. I reply. I repeat. Basically, I just do what I would do in real life if I wanted to be someone’s friend—I talk to them.
Sometimes you can talk to people for a long time without them replying or favoriting or following back. This would be rude in real life, but on Twitter is normal. Don’t take it personally (I’m still trying to follow this advice myself because there’s this one person that I think SHOULD follow me, but she doesn’t. And don’t ask me about it in real life because I will rant for several minutes because it doesn’t make any sense. Anyway.). But don’t let it deter you from keepin’ on keepin’ on. No need to get creepy fangirl about it—don’t retweet/favorite/reply to every single thing. Just behave like you would if they were at a party and you were trying to get into their circle.
Eventually, maybe they’ll tweet you back. You’ll become a part of their twittersphere. You begin to tweet each other more often and you get to know each other. Maybe to the point that when you’re passing through their town, you suggest coffee. Next thing you know, you’re in her car driving to Atlanta and dreaming up a blog project. It happens.
So, there you have it. This is how I find those people. This is how we became friends. Easy peasy.
Are you on Twitter? What are your suggestions for finding, following, and friending people?