How many people do you follow on Twitter? 50? 100? 1000? More? I currently follow 97 people and let me tell you, it’s quite exhausting. Keeping up with everyone’s latest tweets sometimes feels like trying to treat patients in two hospitals located on opposite sides of a city. No one ever told me how stressful it would be when I signed up for Twitter.

Of these X number of people you follow, how many of them provide valuable content on a consistent basis? Are there people you follow who are so memorable and entertaining that you hit retweet before you even read their newest tweet? I know I have.

The point is, these are the people that can help you discover better people to follow on Twitter. Let’s take for example @JoethePlumber. At first mention, you chuckle to yourself after recalling his hilarious tweet from last night:

“What an awful day. At every house I visited today, I had to constantly remind people that my real name is Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher. #FML”

Twitter is about following people who share the same interests and tastes as you do.
If @JoethePlumber likes to tweet about Nascar, politics, and his name all day, then it’s likely you’ll find that the people he follows also enjoy tweeting about Nascar, politics, and their name.

For example, I have an interest in web design. I start by scanning my list of people whom I currently follow, searching for someone who tweets a lot about web design. Let’s use @smashingmag.

Important note of advice before proceeding! Take a look at the person’s total number of followers. If the ratio between followers and followed persons is close to one, then it’s likely that the person has an automatic follow feature set up. In other words, this person probably is not “keeping up” with the same 20,000 people who follows him/her.

Alright, let’s continue. Taking a look at @smashingmag’s statistics, we see that he follows 378 people and has 110,134 followers. Not too shabby. Best of all, these 378 people he follows are likely people he intends on staying updated on.

So, let’s check out the list of people @smashingmag follows.

Looking at the first results, @usabilityblog catches my eye immediately. First, I own a blog. Second, I care about usability, which is a part of web design. Perfect fit, so far. Let’s see @usabilityblog’s bio:

Huh? Göttingen? Sorry, man. I speak English only. Sometimes Chinese. Spanish if I’m having a really good day.

So @usabilityblog was a swing and a miss. Don’t lose hope yet though. Let’s try it again.

Scrolling further down the list again, I notice @designshack. The username contains the word design. Bingo! Let’s check this one out!

According to @designshack’s bio, he/she/they enjoy providing “Daily news and inspiration for designers.” Another very good signal. Let’s proceed now to the timeline.

Huh? This tweet looks mighty interesting!

Man! I think I just wet my pants cause that’s what you call valuable content! Now, if I correctly follow the tutorials provided, I might just be able to produce a breath-taking Contact page.

Without further hesitation, I click on the follow button. Time will tell, whether this decision proves beneficial or regrettable.

Photo by Geek and Poke

How do you decide on who you want to follow on Twitter? Let me know in the comments section below.
  • Ray Wenderlich

    Interesting! Here’s the strategies I often follow:

    1) If I see a RT that I like, I check out the original poster. If their tweets look interesting – follow!

    2) If there is a blog I like, I will often follow the author.

    3) I clean up my list periodically and remove those who aren’t in a similar line of interest.

    Am interested to hear how others find interesting people as well :]

    • Tony Hue

      There’s also a ton of services online that will help you find other Tweeters with similar interests as you. I highly recommend Heck, it was established by the creator of Digg, Kevin Rose.

      Thanks for sharing your insights, Ray!

  • Christopher Ming Ryan

    Tony, I’ve been on twitter for over a year and I have found it to be the opposite of Facebook. It’s a great place to meet and stay in touch with people you’ve never met.

    At first, I followed anyone who followed me. Then, I got a little more discriminate. I tend to not follow anyone who has incongruous twitter ratios. Like people who have only tweeted 178 tweets are following 4300 people. It just means they are spending a lot of time clicking to get random followers and not there to inform or entertain.

    Off the bat, I tend to follow anyone creative. I also tend to not follow people who are selling their one book or one product.

    I don’t follow twitter religiously. I rss some twitter folk that I want to stay on top of. I used to do seismic but it requires more of a commitment. I tend to treat it like a stream. And I go to the stream for a drink a couple times a day.
    .-= Christopher Ming Ryan´s last blog ..Vlogging 101: Doing It Right (Watch Author Rachel Cohn) =-.

    • Tony Hue

      Those are some very good lessons for any newbie Tweeters. Twitter ain’t just about keeping track of exactly what everyone is doing at every minute. It’s more than that. I’m glad to hear that you truly understand that and I hope others will begin to adopt this as well.

      Thanks for visiting, Christopher!

  • Gabe |

    Oh, so many theories about Twitter.

    I personally don’t discriminate anyone who wants to follow me, as long as they’re human. As a result, Twitter sends me more traffic than all other social bookmark sites combined. Can’t complain about that!

    • Tony Hue

      Twitterologist will be the next hot job in the coming years. Count on it.

  • Debbie Lattuga

    I love to find ‘gurus’ and see who they interact with. Those are the twitterers I try to follow.
    .-= Debbie Lattuga´s last blog ..Take Better Pictures =-.

  • Electric Ego

    Considering the ever increasing noise on twitter, even if you have 100 followers, it is not easy to keep a check on all of them. So, it doesn’t matter if you have several or several thousand followers…

    I don’t think there is anything wrong in auto following…people who follow you on twitter, most of them expect a reciprocal follow back.

    Though I won’t call myself a guru, I do follow back if your tweet something of value.
    .-= Electric Ego´s last blog ..Weekly Twitter Updates for 2010-03-21 =-.