Guest blog post from Andy Horton…..

“If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?”

“Shatner. I’d fight William Shatner”.

Tyler Durden and the Narrator, Fight Club.

When I first joined Twitter, a few years back, I’d followed the few friends and colleagues I knew who were already using it, and then I’d come to a stop. I had all the world to choose from. I could follow anyone I wanted. The great and the good, the wise and the witty, the movers and shakers. Anyone. And I couldn’t think who to follow. There were so many famous people out there, and I didn’t know where to start. I stared blankly at the screen for some time before thinking to myself – I don’t know why – “Shatner. I’ll follow Shatner”. And so, the first person I followed on Twitter who I didn’t personally know was William Shatner.

I was reminded of this when Chris asked me to write this post. “Find some interesting people you could recommend for new Twitter users to follow”, he’d said. We’re encouraging our colleagues at Regent’s University London to start tweeting, and Chris thought it would be good to give them some suggestions for people they might like to follow. Somewhere to start.

So, the question was: where would I start?

https://twitter.com/linguisticsgirl “…linguistic theories and more about language in general.”
https://twitter.com/wuglife “Linguistics, academia, and language.”
https://twitter.com/linguisten German linguistics forum, tweets lots of good links to English-language articles.
How do you find “interesting people”? Start with an interesting person. I knew I’d want people for language teachers to follow. It so happens that via a friend I know Jane Setter, lead vocalist of Crimson Sky. In addition to being a great singer, she’s a professor of phonetics. And often tweets cool stuff about her subject. So I asked her if she could recommend language or linguistics-related Twitter accounts to follow.She directed me to her “language and speech” list, from which I picked some likely accounts.
Lists are a great way to find people on Twitter with a common interest. If someone you follow has made a list called “HE bloggers”, or “economists”, or “test cricket”, you can find a lot of people with that common interest.

Andy photo 1

https://twitter.com/peston Robert Peston, Economics Editor for the BBC
https://twitter.com/JosephEStiglitz Joseph Stiglitz
https://twitter.com/Steven_Strauss Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard
https://twitter.com/teisenmann Harvard Business School entrepreneurship professor
https://twitter.com/kwerb Wharton professor. Co-Author, For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business
https://twitter.com/TheresaBClarke “@JMUMarketing professor sharing her love of marketing and helping students, practitioners, and professors connect with one another.”
Here, I started with an economist and an economics commentator. A quick google search for “Joseph Stiglitz twitter” found his account, and I happened to follow Robert Peston already. The others are a selection of business academics, some found via a list kept by a colleague at another university.
You might notice that Theresa Clarke includes her department’s Twitter account in her biography – this can be another way to spot accounts you might be interested in.
Film studies
https://twitter.com/BFI The British Film Institute
https://twitter.com/LondonSWF London Screenwriters’ Festival
https://twitter.com/sundancefest Sundance Film Festival
https://twitter.com/ThatKevinSmith Kevin Smith, director of Clerks, Dogma, and Red State
These were all accounts that I already follow. The first are organisations or events related to film – including the London Screenwriters’ Festival held annually at Regent’s. Institutional accounts are often good to follow as they may engage with others in the same field, or post links to relevant material.
Kevin Smith the film director is included as a reminder that a lot of high-profile people use Twitter and can be worth following.
Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
https://twitter.com/PlashingVole Dr Aidan Byrne, a senior lecturer in English and media and cultural studies at the University of Wolverhampton
https://twitter.com/shewolfmanc Dr Hannah Priest. Medieval and modern popular culture
https://twitter.com/FernRiddell Victorian social history
https://twitter.com/JackofKent David Allen Green. Lawyer and legal blogger in the Financial Times
https://twitter.com/DorothyMiell Head of College of Humanities & Social Science, University of Edinburgh
Again, these are mostly accounts I follow already. David Allen Green blogs and links to good articles in a subject I’m interested in. @PlashingVole is someone I met and interacted with on Twitter via a mutual friend, and I found @Shewolfmanc through him. If you see someone’s tweets popping up in someone else’s timeline and you like them, give them a follow. I discovered Fern Riddell’s account when she was livetweeting an episode I was watching of the historical drama Ripper Street – it’s often worth following someone who tweets about a mutual interest.
Higher Education
https://twitter.com/HEAcademy Higher Education Academy
https://twitter.com/QAAtweets Quality Assurance Agency
UKCISA https://twitter.com/ukcisa_students The UK Council for International Student Affairs
https://twitter.com/UniversitiesUK Universities UK
https://twitter.com/Registrarism Paul Greatrix. Registrar at University of Nottingham
https://twitter.com/ChrisParrTHE Chris Parr, social media reporter at Times Higher Education
https://twitter.com/SmithZakiya Zakiya Smith. Former White House Senior Policy Advisor for Education

andy photo 2

I started with some institutional accounts, here – this is a field where people will be following Twitter for current awareness, recently published information, and news. I also included Paul Greatrix (who I follow, and who I found via my colleague @matthias_feist at Regent’s).
As it happened, Paul was at an international HE conference in Miami. Which gave me another way to find people to follow. The conference used the hashtag #GoingGlobal2014, and clicking on that brought up tweets from people tweeting from it. From which I could choose a few people whose comments were interesting, or who were engaged in discussions about the topics. This is also how I found Dorothy Miell’s account, above.
https://twitter.com/APAPsychiatric American Psychiatric Association
https://twitter.com/BABCP British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies.
https://twitter.com/Clare_Symons Editor of Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.
This, to be honest, is not an area where I follow many people. So I started by using Twitter’s own search facility, and simply searched for “psychotherapy”. I found the APA, and also @Mental_Elf. I had encountered this account before, retweeted by other people. I took a look at its followers page and saw it was being followed by a lot of people, including quite a few respected health librarians. How many people follow an account already – and who those followers are – can help you to evaluate if it’s worth following. I also looked at the timeline of tweets, and saw that it was posting the kind of content that seemed relevant and interesting.
I then looked at which users @Mental_Elf was following, and found a couple more people there.
Hopefully, this has suggested a few people you might like to follow. More importantly, I hope it has suggested a few ways to find people to follow for yourself. Mutual acquaintances, hashtags, followers, searches, lists – all can be useful starting points. So, get out there and start following people – I’m https://twitter.com/fechtbuch, by the way.
Do remember that you only really know what an account’s like once you’ve followed them for a while. The good news is that if you do decide after following someone that their tweets aren’t for you, it’s just as easy to unfollow them. No harm, no foul.
And finally…
If after all this, you still don’t know who to follow first, there’s always