I’ve been on Twitter for a few years, but it’s been an “off-and-on” relationship. I’ll jump in every so often, leave a few posts, and then lose interest, especially after scrolling through masses of mindless content. What I have always been missing is a good way of finding people to follow on Twitter.
Who I Would Ideally Follow
It’s fairly easy to know what types of people I want to follow on Twitter — they’re probably just like me. I’m looking for real people (not those trying to sell me something), and those who like to get out and do the same types of things I do. For me, that’s a lot of hiking, backpacking, and biking. I’m also interested in following people who share my other interests. I think there is also a “right mix” of content within their twitter account. The more of my interests they also share is fantastic, but a little variety is good as well.
The Beginnings of My Twitter People Search Tool
There are probably tools out there that help people find people to follow, but I didn’t have too much luck finding what I was looking for. I’m always looking for interesting little projects anyways, so I started digging into the Twitter API. It was time to start building my own little people search tool.
Finding those Who Write About My Interests
The first step was just building a quick tool to find those who share my interests. I quickly put together a small tool where I can enter a search phrase/hashtag, and it will list everyone who has recently used that hashtag.
This of course still brought up a few too many results, so I also added a minimum follower count. I however kept it pretty minimal, since I don’t totally care if someone doesn’t have a lot of followers, I’m mainly just interested in good content.
I also wanted to see what other types of content each person writes about, so I compiled a full list of hashtags they have used over the previous 20 or so tweets. This helped quite a bit in seeing which listings were just people (or bots) spamming keywords.
Next Steps for My Tool to Find People to Follow
My initial steps into my people search tool to help me find people to follow on Twitter were pretty successful. I’ve found quite a few new people to follow that I share interests with, and who have interesting Twitter feeds.
I’m not sure how far I’ll take this little project, but I wouldn’t mind updating it to include the following:
Currently, whenever a search for a hashtag, it pulls only the most recent tweets and personal profiles that have that hashtag included. Ideally the search would run constantly throughout the day so I can check in regularly and see the new people it has dug up.
Related to the above — I’m constantly looking for pretty much the same set of hashtags, and currently I just enter this into my search box. It would however be fantastic to just save everything I’ve searched for, and as mentioned above, just have it always be searching for those people.
Once I have the above items in place, I would love to have the system flag those who would be a really good match for what I’m looking for. I love hiking and backpacking, but if someone writes about those things, plus my other interests like architecture or web design and development, we’re going to probably get along pretty well. I would love to make an update that searches down to that level.
Other Little Things
There are quite a few additional things that I may pursue at some point — things like negative hashtags (don’t return a person’s account if they match a negative keyword), and other filtering critera, like more control over minimum or maximum number of followers. I may also play around with more complex filtering criteria, like the number of posts per day, followers to like ratio, etc…
So far, I’m pretty happy with my people search tool, and I’m looking forward to getting it to work even better.