Twitter has more than 100 million users, which means you're bound to encounter a lot of noise. You'll find brands hawking their products or services, some users tweeting the mundane details of their everyday lives and spammers insisting you check out their "hottest new pix!" Um, no thanks.
But within all that noise are people who can bring you value-whether it's an interesting perspective on an event, an exclusive offer, or an announcement from a figurehead from a competing business. The tricky part is seeking these people out. The good news: tools can help you find the right followers.
Last week, Twitter announced a new feature that suggests to you users to follow. With this announcement, Twitter joins a growing number of Twitter directory sites that work similarly-enter a keyword or location, and the site will generate a list of new accounts to follow. Here's how Twitter's "Who to Follow" feature works, and a look at four other sites that will help you build a more meaningful Twitter following.
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1. Twitter's "Who to Follow"
How to use it: Log on to your Twitter account and click "Find People" from the main toolbar. This will give you three options to find new accounts to follow. With "Find on Twitter" you can search for people, organizations or companies that you know have a Twitter account.
The "Browse Interests" tab will give you a list of categories to choose from -for example, business, entertainment, family, health, music, politics and sports. Click on any of these categories to generate a list of people related to the category. You can follow them directly from this page. The "Find Friends" tab asks you to enter your e-mail address and password to find e-mail contacts who are on Twitter. This tab will also generate a list and let you follow the users from this page.
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WeFollow's directory gives you several methods to search for new followers. Its homepage lists the users with the most number of followers for each category, which include celebrities, music, social media, entrepreneurs, news, bloggers, tech, TV, actors and comedy. Clicking on any of these top users will bring you to a stats page, with the user's number of followers, how many they're following, the number of updates and the tags they're listed under.
WeFollow also lets you enter tags into the search bar to further narrow down your search for users to follow. Additionally, WeFollow lets you add yourself to its directory, which helps others find you, if your interests align properly. To do this, click "Add yourself to WeFollow, and enter the interests that best describe you.
Twellow (think: YellowPages for Twitter) grabs publicly available messages from Twitter.com, then analyzes and categorizes each of the users responsible for those messages, helping you find suitable people to follow.
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There are several ways you can use Twellow. You can browse for users to follow based on category; keyword and "TwelloHood," in which you use a map of the world to zoom in on users from a specific location. Twellow also generates an extensive list of suggested users and lets you follow them without leaving the site.
Geofollow offers many of the stock Twitter search features-keyword, username, tag, etc.-but it's specialty is finding users based on their locations. Search for new users to follow based on city, state or country and "bulk follow" the ones whom you find interesting. Geofollow also lets you tweet, message users and view their avatar directly from its site, as well as add yourself to its directory.
Just as Geofollow focuses on location, Twibs focuses on finding (and listing) businesses on Twitter. Log in to the site and search among its 25,000-plus businesses, or list your business so others can find it more easily. (You'll be asked for your Twitter username, four keywords that describe your business and whether you want your business e-mail, blog or online store displayed.)
Staff Writer Kristin Burnham covers consumer Web and social technologies for CIO.com. She writes frequently on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. You can follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.
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