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Twitter Suggesting New People to Follow, How They Should Do It

Posted by on January 17, 2009

Have you seen this?  I just found out about it a few minutes ago.  If you go to your twitter homepage and click on “find people,” you will see a tab for “suggested users.”

twitter suggested followers

This is an interesting feature to add, however the way it stands right now, there is not a lot of relevancy that is being put into calculating these new suggested people to follow.  Among the people twitter suggested that I follow are:

  • Britney Spears
  • Shaq
  • Jet Blue
  • ESPN
  • NPR

I’d actually like to now what twitter is using to calculate these suggested people to follow, where did these recommendations come from?  Is this just a default list that everyone else sees as well?

How They Should Do It

Why not allow users to manipulate variables that they look for in people to follow.  For example, I want to follow someone who loves chess yet is also interested in social media and technology; can twitter recommend me such a person?  I’m sure they can.

How great would it be if you can have a little interface that let’s you customize search fields, you input the data you want and then twitter sends you a list of people who match your query.  I should be able to follow every other “jacob” out there if I wanted to, or every other person who is interested in chess, or bamboo carving (kidding).  Recommending someone just for the sake of a recommendation doesn’t do much good.  Let’s say that I was having a conversation with you about laptops and then all of a sudden I say “you know who I recommend for under water basket weaving?…”  That’s what the twitter recommendation engine feels like right now.

However, if I had the ability to customize my recommended followers I would probably be much more likely to follow and interact with them, don’t you think?

What do you think about twitter and they’re recommended follower feature, would you like to be able to customize this option to find people YOU are interested in?

Thanks for reading!

  • I saw this yesterday – and was excited at first – but quickly realized that we all are asked to connect with Britney Spears etc. Then very disappointed. It feels like the very early days of MySpace. When Tom Anderson had the idea to add some “hotties” to attract more members to join. Or is this is the “revenue model” Twitter is dreaming about? Shut down people search and instead suggest sponsored contacts? Well – let's give it some time and inputs to see how it goes.

    • You were asked to connect with Britney too huh? Looks like there isn't much on the relevancy side of things at twitter. friendfeed was doing this for a while too, they would just keep a list of “default” people to follow.

      thanks for the comment!

  • I wasn't aware of that until now – they're not very good at advertising these things, are they?

    I agree that the method used to pair people up seems off – I certainly wouldn't want to follow Michael Arrington…!

    They should take a leaf out of Stumbleupon's book, and give you a grid that you tick off with your likes and dislikes. That could then be used to filter out the noise and give you suggestions that are really relevant to your interests.

    Still, nice to see they're trying.

    • no they certainly aren't, it's a wonder how twitter has made it up to this point. twitter succeeded thanks to the users, the company itself has done nothing to promote, encourage, etc.

      hopefully they can beef this up soon!

      good to hear from you 🙂

  • Hi Jacob.
    I also saw this function in twitter, but was soon disappointed. I also got a lot of people – among those you mentioned – and I think these are just random people/twitters. I have used twellow ( with some degree of sucsess to find people that share the same interests as me; Advertising, branding, social media and ducati motorbikes. 🙂
    But that said, I think twitter has the necessary data to find people that share the same interests, and hopefully they will improve their service soon. Time will show.

    • ya seems britney is just the cool person to be following these days hmm?

  • Jacob, I was thinking a very similar thing. I was disappointed with who they recommend that I follow (I think I also was recommended Britney), and wanted more control. If I was able to find more specific people, this feature would make more sense. So far, I have been mostly been using @MrTweet for recommendations. I really hope Twitter will develop this feature more this year.

    • hey drew, yep mr tweet has done the best job so far. however you would think that a feature such as this would do best if it came from the actual company…guest not 🙂

    Gives you up to 10 (not sure why it's so darn small a sample) suggested people to follow
    that are targeted by interest and keyword-and very useful, even if only for 10 people. Now does
    anyone have a better solution or app that works better for “targeted” engagement?

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