January 24, 2009

Learn More About Who You Follow With TweepSearch

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Twitter/FriendFeed)

Damon Cortesi, the man behind TweetStats, DM Whacker, and First Follow, has just made my life a whole lot easier by allowing me to learn more about the people I follow through search. The service, called TweepSearch, aims to allow you to search for specific people you want to find amongst the people you follow.

Back when I joined Twitter, tracking those I follow was an easy task. I knew almost every person in my network, and was able to easily learn more about them by reviewing each of their profiles and seeing what they did through their Bios. In the beginning I was religious about this - I really care about my followers, and I really enjoy learning who is following me, and what they're interested in. However, as my network has grown from hundreds, to thousands, to now approaching tens of thousands, it has become increasingly difficult to know every single person that is following me. There are days I get in the hundreds of new followers - I think every account on Twitter has this potential. It was actually for this reason that I created my own service, SocialToo. TweepSearch complements SocialToo by letting you now search amongst the people we follow for you.

Are you in HR?

One potential application I could see for this is a way for HR professionals to find people in particular fields. What a better way to find employees than through the people already interested in your brand who are already following you? Jeremiah Owyang did a study recently in which he suggested (based on early data) most people with jobs currently found those jobs through a friend. Through TweepSearch, you can do just that, by searching for people with the skills you need amongst your Twitter friends.

I decided to, as an experiment, try this amongst my followers. I did a search for "Perl" (we are a Perl shop at SocialToo), and was surprised to find people listing Perl experience in their Twitter profile. I did a search for "Social Media", and found several Social Media experts. Searching for "marketing" revealed a whole slew of people with a focus in marketing. You can actually search this amongst the friends of any person they are indexing!

Search all of Twitter

The amazing part of TweepSearch is that it not only works amongst your followers, but you can also search through all indexed profiles on the service. If you don't specify a Twitter username, it will search for all the terms I mentioned above across a large sample of the Twitter user-base.

Damon listed several future plans for the site, which include the ability to search by proximity, meaning you can search for specific terms amongst people within a certain distance from your current location. He also plans for the ability to follow directly from the results of people you just searched. Currently, you can already search for people in a given location based on the "Location" field in their Twitter profile.

While TweepSearch comes amongst a large base of People searches around Twitter, including MrTweet, which matches people to you, and Twitter's own people search which suggests people to you and allows you to search by name, TweepSearch fills a void in that space by showing you who the people are that are following you. Give it a whirl and see what you can learn about your Tweeps!

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.