Who should you follow on twitter?

If you’ve been on twitter for a few months, and have started to find a few people to follow, but you’re wondering if you’re missing the most interesting discussions, there are a now a couple of good ways to fill in the gaps.  You might want to do this if you’re using twitter for fun, to find people with the same interests as you, or to identify the most influential tweeps that are covering your product or technology.  In the latter case - this is important because the more followers, and more engaged with their followers they are - the more important it is for you to be able to be listening to what they’re saying, and to engage them in conversation.

Google’s work on the social-graph has just led them to launch the Google Follow Finder.  It looks at who you’re currently following; and then looks to see who’s following them - and then suggests potential new tweeps along the lines of ‘people that liked these tweeps also liked these tweeps’.  They also provide a list of “Tweeps with similar followers” which is a list of accounts that have similar follower lists to yours.

This is a good automated addition to the manually created category-based wefollow directory that’s been around for a while - but I’d still recommend checking both in your search for relevant people to follow.

Up until now the way I’ve been populating my twitter lists has been to use search columns in hootsuite for key-words that I’m interested in.  Scanning these searches on a regular basis frequently throws up a few people worthy of consideration.  Before adding them to my follow list, I usually check their profile to see who they are, and who they work for, and to check that their last few messages are worth reading.

Once you’ve added a few new tweeps to your follow list, you may also want to start to trim out some of the less valuable ones.  I usually do this if I’m receiving lots of inane banter or spam from a particular user.  The other good way to do it is to look at their klout ratings either directly on the website, or through the hootsuite people pages introduced in the Feb 2010 Barn Owl release.  Klout is a service that uses nearly 30 different variables to determine how influential a particular tweep is (a much more reliable metric than simply looking at the raw number of followers).  Tweetlevel is another tool that allows you to measure how influential a particular tweep is, and they also have some tips on how to become more influential.

Read more about Google Follow Finder on the Google blog, or check out Tad Chef’s 30 twitter search alternative tools for more in this vein.