This post is probably going to get lost in the Twitter noise – and, judging by my declining stats, hardly anyone reads this blog anyway – but I still find it useful to share knowledge occasionally, not least because every day I don’t post I suffer guilt.
I’ve recently been looking around Twitter a lot, trying to find influencers. Now, there are many, many, many, many, many definitions of what influence is, and having been through most of them I’ve come to the conclusion that you can throw away your twitter rankings and your twinfluences and your twitter indices and just count the number of followers someone has. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it tells you straight away how many people you’ll reach. And, as a rule of thumb, someone with 10,000 followers is going to be more influential than someone with 1,000.
So, with that out of the way – and no, I’m not going to enter into yet another debate about it – how do you actually find these people? Well, being someone who likes to package everything he does so that other people can do them too, I’ve come across five nice ways to do this. Go through each of these and you’ll more than likely end up with a good list.
Let’s assume we’re searching for, oh I don’t know, data quality (that really is a random choice btw). So:
Go to wefollow.com and type in your search term, without spaces. In this case we’d go to http://wefollow.com/twitter/dataquality. Look, robot, a nice list of people that talk about data quality, complete with follower numbers. Nice. But not exhaustive because WeFollow doesn’t have everyone, although it is a very good first port of call to get a quick list together.
2. Replies or retweets (especially for people)
Search on Twitter for replies or retweets, especially if you’re searching for influencers associated with a person who, in turn, is associated with a issue or topic. So, from our WeFollow data quality search, we found that ocdqblog is pretty well thought of, so do a search on Twitter for replies and retweets involving ocdqblog – in this case, search for http://search.twitter.com/search?q=@ocdqblog. This shows you people who have replied to or endorsed what that person has to say in some way – and, by implication, people who have been influenced by, or talk to, that person. So it’s a fair bet that they’re in some way associated with that person. So, add ’em to your list.
3. Hashtags (especially for issues)
A hashtag is small identifier that people use to make it easier to bring tweets together for a specific topic that they’re pretty keen on. So, if someone has used #dataquality as a hashtag, it’s a fair bet that they’re involved enough in data quality as a subject to use it as a hashtag. In this case, you’d search on Twitter for http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23dataquality (you have to use the URL code %23 instead of typing in a hash symbol for a direct link – don’t ask why, you just do). This method actually works really well, I’m finding. You do land some big fish this way.
4. #FollowFriday or #FF Hashtag
Search, again on Twitter, but with the #followfriday or #ff hashtag. FollowFriday is a neat little meme that people use to say “Hey, this person is worth following for this issue” – on a Friday. So if someone is doing some good work in the data quality field, it’s likely someone else somewhere has said at some point “Person X is good at data quality #ff” or suchlike. So by searching for http://search.twitter.com/search?q=”data quality” %23ff OR %23followfriday, you can find people who have been endorsed by other people as being authorities on, in this case, data quality.
5. Topic search
Finally, just search for people who have mentioned your search term – that is, http://search.twitter.com/search?q=”data quality”. This is probably what you first thought of doing and while it works, it doesn’t have any of the nice nuances of whether they’ve been endorsed on WeFollow, or replied/retweeted, or used a hashtag, especially the FollowFriday hashtag. So you might get a lot of hits this way, but not as many quality hits, that is, people who are really involved, or recognised or endorsed by people involved in this area.
So there you go. If you’re canny you’ll figure out ways of creating all these URLs on the fly, generated from just specifying your search term, so you can just copy and paste them into a browser and off you go (or just click them in Google Docs, which has a lovely new auto-click URL feature now). And you save enough time to blog about it afterwards. Not that anyone will read about it.