How to Search for People on Twitter

By Laura Fitton, Anum Hussain, Brittany Leaning

You can search for people on Twitter itself many ways. The simplest is by using the search field — look for the magnifying-glass icon and the words Search Twitter inside an oval — present in the navigation bar at the top of every Twitter page. Run your search using any name, keyword, industry, title, and so on, and then look for a link in the left navigation bar to the People subset of results in that search.

Twitter currently has three main pages aimed at helping the new user find new people to follow: Who to Follow, Find Friends, and Popular Accounts. You can find these sections by clicking on the #Discover tab in the top left navigation at Twitter. Here’s what you can expect from each.

  • Who to Follow starts by looking at who you are already following, as well as what’s newly popular and related right now, and provides you a customized list of accounts you might also like.

  • Find Friends does exactly that, but beware: You might end up sending out a bunch of random requests to join Twitter to everyone in your address book if you don’t pay attention when you are using this page.

    It’s perfectly safe to authorize Twitter to search contacts for any of the services displayed on this page, and Twitter will tell you what it’s going to do next. What it does next is show you the list of your contacts who are already on Twitter and ask if you’d like to follow them. For the most part, this is probably a good idea, but you should review the list.

    Next, it asks if you want to invite the rest of your contacts to come try Twitter. Here’s where you should tread lightly. Depending on how you use the web, this could be a lot of random people. You probably don’t want to blindly invite them all to join Twitter. Don’t be afraid here, but also don’t just click all the way through the options like some kind of robot.

  • Popular Accounts is a descendant of Twitter’s early experiments with a Suggested Users list, which were less successful than the more customized suggestions it gives today as Who to Follow. It’s still pretty useful, though, because it divides Twitter’s most popular and most interesting accounts into a little more than two dozen categories and suggests roughly 50 to 200 good accounts within the category.

You’ll also find that as you use Twitter, suggested accounts pop up here and there throughout the experience. Maybe you’ve just followed a new account, and a few “similar account” suggestions pop up. Maybe in the sidebar you notice some new faces under Who to Follow (currently on the right side).

Finally, if you’re looking for accounts by topic, you might be best served running a Google search that will find articles and blog posts discussing great accounts to follow, as in this example:

Top film directors on Twitter

Another really popular way to find people on Twitter is to simply use your favorite search engine. Because Google indexes every public Tweet, you can use it to find twitterers by interest or by name. To use Google to find people you might want to follow, either search their first names, last names, and the word Twitter, or do a slightly more specific search this way:

  1. Type your keywords or the username you’re looking for in the text field.

  2. Add site:Twitter.com at the end of your search query.

  3. Click the Search button.

    See what pops up!

You probably want to conduct people searches and keyword searches periodically to make sure that you continue to cultivate your Twitter experience’s richness and value with new voices. Although Twitter is great for reconnecting with old friends and keeping up a conversation with existing business associates, it’s also a fantastic way to reach out and find new people and companies to listen to.

A great way to get started following people on Twitter is to import your contacts from your web-based email account (such as Yahoo! Mail or Gmail).