Twitter (Twitter) is all about facilitating conversations, but until you’re following some people, it’s just a blank page. Once you find people to follow and talk to, however, Twitter becomes exceptionally useful. You can share thoughts, ask questions, get updates about news, music, brands, and businesses, and discover helpful links and information. Finding good people to follow, especially for new users staring at a blank page the first time they log in, can be a bit daunting, though.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can find people on Twitter. Here are ten sites you can use to locate “tweeps” to follow. Let us know in the comments if you know of any others.
1. Twitter People Search – Twitter’s built in people search isn’t the greatest way to find people on Twitter, but it’s probably where you should start. Twitter searches the “real names” people enter in their bio fields, but because there isn’t much accompanying bio information and because Twitter doesn’t have any sort of requirement to use your actual name, that can make it a bit difficult to find people, especially those with common names. It also makes it hard to verify that the people you find are actually who you’re looking for. Still, it’s a good place to begin your search.
2. Tweepz – Because the biographical information Twitter collects is minimal, no Twitter people search engine can improve on Twitter’s that much. Third-party site Tweepz does an admirable job, though. Tweepz lets you limit searches to specific parts of Twitter’s user information (like name, bio, and location), filter results by follower/following numbers, location, and other extracted terms, and greatly improves on the layout of the search results.
3. TweepSearch – TweepSearch lets you search by Twitter name or location, or search a specific username to get a list of all friends and followers. However, if the “indexing” number listed on their main page is accurate, they’re crawling about 600,000 less Twitter user profiles than Tweepz.
4. TwitDir – TwitDir is another search engine, but if the crawling stats are accurate, it’s well behind the curve, searching about 3 million fewer users than Tweepz. Still, it’s not a bad people search engine, and has some helpful “top” lists if you’re concerned with who the most popular or prolific people on Twitter are (then again, they’re also not that up-to-date — the site doesn’t seem to know who @aplusk is, for example).
5. Twellow – Your best bet for finding like-minded Twitter users might be to use a directory, and Twellow is certainly one of the most complete. Nearly 6 million Twitter user profiles are indexed in Twellow and placed into a huge number of categories. You can search the entire lot of profiles, or confine searches to a single category. Twellow also operates a local directory called the “Twellowhood.”
6. WeFollow – Created by Diggfounder Kevin Rose, WeFollow is a Twitter user directory that organizes people by hashtags. WeFollow is user-generated and anyone can add themselves by tweeting @wefollow with three #hashtags that describe them.
7. Just Tweet It – Just Tweet It is another user created Twitter directory. It’s not quite as well organized or easy-to-use as Twellow or WeFollow, but it is certainly large enough that you should give it a browse when trying to locate people in your interest areas to follow.
8. Twubble – Twubble recommends people to follow by spidering the people you’re already following and recommending users that they’re following. The idea is that the people you’re following are interesting to you, so if more than one of them are also following another person, that person might also be interesting. Of course, that means that Twubble can’t be your first stop when finding people to follow — you already need to be following some people for the service to work.
9. Twitterel – Twitterel attempts to find people you might be interested in following by doing keyword searches of tweets. The service can update you by email, direct message, or @reply when it finds new people it thinks you might be interested in following. It’s kind of like Google Alerts for Twitter follow recommendations.
10. Who Should i Follow? – Enter you Twitter username into Who Should i Follow? and the service finds users who are similar to those you’re already following. The site doesn’t disclose information about how it works, but in my experience it is pretty accurate at finding users whose tweets are similar in content to your followers. The results can be filtered by how popular the people are, and how close they are to a specific location.
BONUS: Mr. Tweet – Mr. Tweet is a very popular Twitter app that lets you give and receive recommendations about Twitter users. The app also provides more helpful statistics about users, such as tweets per day or the percentage of tweets containing links. To get the most out of Mr. Tweet, consider installing the Firefox plugin, which gives you access to statistics and user recommendations while you’re browsing Twitter.