10 Twitter Tips: How to Follow - and be Followed - Strategically

Last night I taught a workshop for business people on how to use Twitter as a lead generation tool. One glitch we ran into was when I tried to show the class how to find local Twitter users to follow.

Turns out that it's a good idea to double check your facts before teaching a class.

I told the class to look up some websites that I remembered as useful for finding local Twitter users to follow. But two of these sites were no longer in existence.

Uh oh.

As soon as I scraped the egg off my face, I promised the class that I would email them a list of sites that were still live and could be used to locate Twitter users by geography. Hence this article which I will email to the people who attended the class (the rest of you are welcome to read along if you wish).

Back in May, I wrote a similar article called, 4 Ways to Find Local Users. This article then will be an extension of that previous article.

But before we get started, let's lay out a key principle:
The secret to being effective on Twitter is to follow, and be followed, by other Twitter users who share interests, topics, keywords or location with your business.

I call this "Following Strategically." Behind this principle is the observation that a certain number of the people you follow will follow you in return.

As a rule of thumb, I find that approximately 50% of the people you will follow, will follow you back. This means that who you follow has a great deal to do with what kind of people follow you.

If you want real estate people to follow you, follow a lot of real estate agents. If you want Democrats to follow you, follow Democrats, if you want lawyers to follow you, follow a lot of lawyers.

Caveat: Like all rules of thumb, this 50% rule is fraught with exceptions, but I have personally never experienced - regardless of what keyword or characteristic I use for finding strategic Twitter users - less than 33% return followers.

Of course you also have to provide these followers with a lot of quality content related to their topic of interest.

With all that said, here are some tips on how to gather followers by certain demographic or psychographic characteristics (I just love it when I can throw in cool words like "psychographic"):

Finding Twitter Users by Location:

  1. Tweetdeck is by far my Twitter tool of choice. Not only is it a great program for organizing your followers so that you can keep up with all the chatter going on in the "Twitter Stream," it also allows you to create several columns that do real time searches for certain keywords.

    Just set up various columns related to the various topics you have an interest in, and you will have a never-ending stream of tweets that include those keywords.

  2. Twitter Local is similar to Twellow (which I already mentioned in my May article). Check it out and you will no doubt find Twitter users who do not show up using other tools.

  3. How to Find Local Twitter Users From Your City is a smart article on how to combine Twitter Local with a Google search.

  4. Local Tweets: 9 Ways to Find Twitter Users in Your Town is a great article in Mashable that shows you a lot of great ways to find local Twitter users.

  5. Tweetmondo is another site that allows you to search Twitter by geography.

How to Find Twitter Users by Subject Matter:

  1. 15 Twitter Directories Compared is another Mashable article that lists and compares the strengths of various Twitter directories.

  2. TwitteRel is a keyword search term that enables you to find every Twitter user who has ever included your word in a tweet.

  3. Twibes is a platform that enables Twitter users to gather in groups based on areas of interest. If you see a group that meets your subject matter, you can follow all the members.

  4. Tweepsearch is different from TwitterRel in that it focuses on the profiles listed by Twitter users rather than the keywords in their tweets. So if you are looking for people who mention a profession in their profile, Tweepsearch will find it for you.

  5. Follow experts in your field. The followers of high-profile experts, bloggers and authors are posted right on the person's Twitter account. My reasoning is that these people follow this expert for a reason, because they want to learn more about what the person has to say. A twist on this is an idea my friend Bill Hurlbut came up with for finding local followers by following the local news anchors and weather people on your local stations. He reasoned, and I think this is brilliantly on target, that the people who follow a local weather person do so because they live locally and want weather updates.

I have a feeling this list will grow over time as I learn more ways to find strategic Twitter users to follow. If you have any ideas or resources to share, please leave a comment below.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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August 14, 2009 at 6:54 AM Laurie Dunlop said...

It would be nice to see which programs no longer exist too!

August 20, 2009 at 4:54 PM the medical sales recruiter said...

Love these tips! They are really helpful--I especially like the ones for finding others who are in your field. I offered a few tips of my own here: http://www.phcconsulting.com/WordPress/2009/01/09/top-10-twitter-tips-for-medical-and-laboratory-sales-reps/.