This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand/ Ahh, Twitter—it’s a wonderful, powerful thing, which is immensely confusing when you first get started. Twitter is the most valuable, when you use it to connect with people who share your interests. Who knows, you might find your new best friend, an audience for your blog, or a literary agent who wants to represent you. You may even be able to connect with a celebrity you adore.
To make Twitter worthwhile, you’ve got to be connected. To be connected, you have to find people to follow. It’s not as hard as you may think to form a new Twitter friendship.
Here are 10 tips for finding people to follow:
1. Take Twitter’s suggestions—on your Twitter homepage all the way to the left, there’s a list entitled “Who to Follow” and a list of four users that Twitter thinks you may like based on who you are already following. You can click to “view all” and get a much longer list of suggestions (along with information on which of your friends are already following the suggested user), or you can go straight to this link: http://twitter.com/#!/who_to_follow/suggestions
2. Browse by interest—Twitter has 21 categories that you can click on to see people who have that interest. These categories include: Books, Entertainment, Funny, Technology, Staff Picks, and some seasonal interested (like NFL Playoffs). If you click on one of the interests, Twitter will show you the most influential users in that category—this is a good place to start when building up your follow-base. Here’s the direct link to that: http://twitter.com/#!/who_to_follow/interests
3. Connect with your existing friends—You can import contacts from your Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, or Yahoo accounts to connect with your existing friends (or that guy that you bought a table off of Craigslist from three years ago). You can also import your contacts from LinkedIn, which is a very wise thing to do if you are using Twitter for business purposes. Here’s the link to Twitter’s Friend Finder: http://twitter.com/#!/who_to_follow/import
4. Search for people you admire—Are you a huge fan of the author, Jenna Blum? She’s on Twitter. It’s easy to connect with her and her fans via a simple Twitter search. Go to the search box at the top of the screen, and type in Jenna Blum. Twitter will stratify your results by category: Tweets, Tweets with Links, Tweets near You, and People—the best way to find the person you are looking for is through the People tab. You can also see the top four users associated with your search term to the very left of the screen.
5. See who else likes what you like—Using that same search window, type in something that interests you, say Harry Potter. You can see who’s talking about Harry Potter, who’s sharing Harry links, and who’s talking about Harry in your neighborhood by clicking through the four search results tabs. This is a great way to find friends who share your interests both locally and abroad.
6. Search hashtags—If you really want to hone in and find people who share your interests, search hashtags. Hashtags are added to tweets, kind of like how tags are added to blogposts. It’s a quick and easy way to identify what you’re talking about. You can visit the website hashtags.org and experiment. Type in “science fiction” and different derivative forms like “sci-fi,” “scifi,” and “sf.” Which search term got the most results? Were the results relevant to what you wanted (perhaps you noticed that “sf” is San Francisco, not science fiction)? What other hashtags are being used in conjunction with the one you typed in? In the case of “scifi,” I also saw a fair number of “fntsy” hashtags come up in my search.
7. Use Twitter apps—there are many apps out there that will you find people to follow. You can search for people by key word, geolocation, popularity, and much more. Some apps that I would recommend for this purpose are: WeFollow, TweetFind, Chirrps, and Local Follow. You can find even more Twitter apps to help you out on oneforty.com (and in case you’re interested, I’ve created a toolkit of my favorite Twitter apps for writers: http://oneforty.com/emlynchand/the-twitteriffic-toolkit-for-writers)
8. See who your friends are talking to—Who do your friends tweet? Who do they retweet? If you notice one of your Twitter friends saying something particularly interesting or retweeting a cool link, click on the referenced user and check out that profile. The friend of your friend is quite likely to be somebody you’d also enjoy knowing.
9. Engage in follow forward days—This is a combination of seeing who your friends are talking to and using hashtags. On follow forward days, Twitter users recommend their favorite users to others. The idea is that you should follow their suggestions and make some new friends. So if it’s Writer Wednesday, be on the look out for Twitter names that come paired with #WW and on Forward Friday, keep an eye out for #FF.
10. See who’s following you—By default, Twitter will send you an email whenever you acquire a new follower. When you get that email, click on the user’s profile and see what s/he’s all about. Sure, there are the occasional follows by spam-bot or by the overzealous follower, who’s not really relevant to anything you do, but many of the people who follow you will genuinely share your interests. If they do, why not follow them back?
Interested in more Twitter tips?
Last week I discussed 10 ways to get the most out of Twitter, including: making yourself look presentable, learning how to talk, getting connected, setting-up your RSS feed, finding people to follow and deciding who to follow back, and more. Although my advice was targeted specifically toward writers, it should be helpful to anyone trying to make sense of the Twitter beast. Enjoy!
Emlyn Chand was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Novel Publicity’s mascot is a Sun Conure, thanks to her obsession with birds–and she gets to decide anyway since she is the company’s founder and president. Although her first novel Farsighted won the prestigious Writer’s Digest Self-Published Novel of the Year award in 2012 for the YA category, she now writes most of her fiction under her “real” name, Melissa Storm. Learn more or connect with her (or her Sun Conure, Ducky!) on either of her author websites: www.emlynchand.com or www.melstorm.com. You can also friend her on Facebook, tweet with her @novelpublicity, or send her an email via email@example.com.