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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Twitter for Professional Development

Resources for learning to use Twitter, how to tweet professionally, growing your professional Twitter network, making your Twitter time more efficient, archiving Tweets, and more!

Finding Users to Follow Through Twitter

Twitter offers several ways for users to find other users to follow through its interface.

Twitter Search and Hastags

There’s a toolbar at the top of almost any page on Twitter. In that toolbar is a search bar on the far right. You can use it to search for specific users by their real name or Twitter handle or by a keyword in their profiles. All you have to do is type something in there and press enter or click the little magnifying glass to get results.

Searching for hashtags (e.g. #librarian) will help you find users who are consciously tweeting around a particular topic and want their voice to be grouped with other voices tweeting on the same topic by using the same hashtag. Every day, week, or month will have hashtags that are trending, meaning that they are the hashtags being the most used.

Tweet Chats

Using the search bar for hashtags can help you find tweet chats, which are conversations around a particular topic organized under a hashtag, often ending in -chat. Finding Tweetchats is not always the easiest thing--you may see them come up in your Timeline as tweets from users you follow and you can also use a search engine like Google to search for tweetchats based on topics you're interested in.

There is an app called Tweetchat.com that can be used to participate in tweetchats. Tweetchat.com works a lot like a chatroom. It lets you read and reply to the tweets of a tweetchat all on the same page and includes the hashtag of the chat automatically in your responses.

Following and Followers

One way to find accounts to follow is to search through the followers of accounts you have an interest in or already follow.

On a user's profile page, click on the click on the Following tab (the 2nd item from the left at the top of the profile) or the Followers tab (the 3rd item from the left at the top of their profile). From there you can see which accounts are fallowing or being followed by the user you are looking at. There’s a good chance you’ll find another account you’d like to follow while looking through a favorite user’s Followers.

Lists

Lists are a way for people to organize users they follow into groups around some commonality (i.e. Top Physicists, Public Health News). Not every account will have a lists tab. 

On a user's profile page, click on the Lists tab (on the top of the profile 5th to the right).  From there you can see what lists that user is subscribed to (includes lists the user created) and lists that other accounts have added that user to.

Who to Follow

The "Who to Follow" box on a user’s profile suggests account that Twitter thinks are similar to the user you are looking at. To find who Twitter thinks a user is like, look in the "Who to Follow" box on that user’s profile on the left hand side of the webpage.  There will be a couple of suggestions in the box and you can also see more suggestions by clicking on the words “View All.”

Notifications/Find Friends

You can check your notifications to see if you have been mentioned by any other Twitter users. To check your notifications, click on "Notifications" at the top of the page. 

You can also find Twitter users based on your email and instant messaging contacts through the "Find Friends" button on your notifications page. To use this feature, click on "Notifications" at the top of the page, and then click on "Find Friends", which is at the bottom of the "Who to Follow" box (which is also a great tool to find users to follow). 

General Tip: Check each user’s profile page to find out if you really want to see their tweets come up in your Timeline.

Finding Users to Follow Outside of Twitter

Blogs and Other Websites

Often blogs and organizational web pages will have a link to their Twitter account on their website. Different pages may link their Twitter feeds in different ways. 

Google

A Google search can help you find others on Twitter. Start with professions associated with your field and the word "Twitter"  or the phrase "best Twitter" (e.g. electrical engineer Twitter) or by using keywords on specific topics of interest to you (e.g. sustainable agriculture best Twitter). Since Google indexes most of the web, you may have to change your search terms a few times or go deep into the search results to find what you want.

In Real Life

You can find people to follow wherever you interact with people in your profession. Perhaps some of your classmates or even your professors tweet. Why not ask them?

Conferences

When I asked how people found other users to follow on Twitter in #libchat (a weekly library-centered chat), a couple of people suggested that they met people at conferences. One person says he puts his Twitter handle on his conference badge. Others said that they put them on their presentations and other conference materials. Additionally, some conferences have tweetups where Twitter users gather in person to network with each other. And if you're unable to attend the conference or are shy, often people will live tweet  conferences (tweet what's going on/reactions during sessions) under a hashtag. The conference might even create its own "official" hashtag to use. By using those hashtags, you can find interesting information and new accounts to follow.