Contributed by: Michelle Calabretta
If you intend to use twitter to spreading content to a particular audience, there are ways you can find and target those people.
First, use a key word to search for people to follow. For example, just type in “cancer” in the find folks! box on the right hand toolbar. It will retrieves 66 people on twitter that have the word “cancer” anywhere in their profile. If you click on their avatars you can look at their profile page and see what they are tweeting about. Follow the people who seem to have similar interests, and more often than not they will follow you back
If you have a gmail account, another tool to find new followers is the gtalk application. At the very bottom of any page on twitter you can click the explore link. It will take you to a page of external applications, just scroll down until you find gtalk. Click on the link and follow the instructions to add twitter as a buddy in your gtalk list. Once you do that, open an instant message window with twitter in gmail. Type “track cancer” and send. Now any time some one on twitter tweets the word “cancer” twitter will send you an instant message with the tweet and the name of the tweeter. You can go check out their profile and see if you want to follow them. Again, more often than not they will follow you back.
The gtalk application can get a bit annoying if you keep it on all the time, so if you get tired of it just send another instant message to twitter with “untrack cancer” and the updates will stop. You can stop and start them any time and build your contact list.
There many third party applications for twitter, so if you have some time check them out in the explore page and see what else you can get into! I'm a big fan of the “blocks” application, which is a graphic representation of how your network is connected and who else they are interacting with. It's a good way to find people who may have similar interests as you and your other contacts.
If you ever have any questions about twitter, just ask some one who has been around a while. The twitterverse is extremely friendly and helpful, so don't be shy!